Friday, May 27, 2011

What Is Holding You Back?

A contribution of mine to the Slight Edge community site could help you look at your own limiting behaviour.

Claire had a problem with mirrors.

Not the seven-years-bad-luck kind. This was more a mirrors-don't-exist problem.

She had a nice feature mirror in her living room; it was there to "open the room". She never consciously stood in front of it and looked - it had as much significance as a department store print.

Then there was the porter's mirror in the hallway, conveniently situated so that Claire needed to wear killer heels to be at eyelevel. Claire wore ballerina pumps.

There was the shaving mirror in the bathroom, but that was for her son's use. Claire didn't need it.

There was no mirror in her bedroom.

Claire didn't even realise she had a problem until she went shopping for a housewarming gift with her daughter. Her daughter selected a beautiful full-length mirror, along with a number of other items. Claire paid for everything, but it wasn't until they got to her daughter's new home that she realised she'd left the mirror behind at the store.

Claire just couldn't pick up the phone to contact the store about it - she gave her daughter sufficient cash to go and buy a new one, went home and stared at her empty bedroom wall.

She hadn't been born like this, or grown up with a needless phobia - like every other teenage girl, she'd sung in front of her wardrobe mirror, hairbrush in hand, diva to the fore, ignoring her mother's comments about her being a show-off.

She knew what had caused this. She'd lied to herself for too long about having moved on. She needed therapy. Unfortunately, she couldn't afford it.

Claire was proud to be a survivor. 22 years ago, she'd left her abusive partner with nothing more than what she stood up in, walked into a lawyer's office and started the fight to regain custody of her children. She learnt patience, tolerance and strategy by reading books in her local library. She worked at two jobs to ensure she could show she had enough money to support her family. She coped with harassment, abuse and a judge who thought she was barely capable of being a decent mum. She did what she needed to do to move forward, whatever it took.

It left her with scars. She wasn't prepared to indulge in self-pity, so pain was hidden away in locked boxes, scattered around the attics of her memory. One of those boxes has a mirror in it.

It was time to unlock the box.

She drove to another store before her courage gave out, and bought a cheap full-length mirror, the sort you stick onto a wardrobe door. Before she fixed it to the door, she got changed into an outfit she knew her daughter thought she looked good in. Then she put up the mirror, stepped back and looked.

She saw the past, heard the words again, felt the anguish and the physical pain. She looked away.

- I am a survivor. Whatever it takes.

She looked at the mirror again and saw herself. A little overweight, scars on her face caused 22 years ago, but slim and hey - her daughter was right - those browns and greens were a good colour combination, they made her eyes greener.

- I am a survivor. Whatever it takes.

Another look, this time imagining her family around her, smiling and happy. It was getting easier, now.

- I am a survivor. I am no longer afraid of my own image.

She turned away. From now on, she was going to work on opening the other boxes, one at a time. And soon, she'd buy a nicer mirror.

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