The room was small and strange in a peculiar way. I did everything in my power to divert my gaze from what I knew was there. I imagined the warmth of people around me, holding me, laughing, smiling. But it was all imagined. I was alone. The walls and floors were of no substance, but seemingly kept pushing me toward the center of the room. I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t want to. Maybe if I didn’t breathe I would pass out. I would never face my only company in this room. I refused the air that eagerly made for my lungs, but the room would not allow it. I was forced to face it, the mirror. I was forced to see my life the way it really was. The promise, that one promise, I knew I couldn’t keep. I was forced to see my greatest fear.
People distract me from life, their smiles cloud out the truth, and that’s how I like it. I like to look at the world when everyone is laughing and believe that’s the way things are, happy. This room couldn’t allow that. This room had to take away those smiles, the laughter, and show me what I ignore.
My childhood flowed out of the glass. Solitude, loneliness, and abandonment clawed at my resilience. A father who never cared and let his anger control his heavy hand. A mother who was too overwhelmed with the two disabled children to aid the “perfect” one. That’s what they called me, the perfect one. I suppose that’s due to how hard I tried at everything. I wanted to know they knew I was there and success wasn’t enough to grant that, being their kid wasn’t enough to grant that. I stayed up hours on end, alone, studying spelling words, writing them hundreds of times just to pass the test. I was dyslexic and even when I needed help, it wasn’t there. I learned to be independent. I knew how to cook for myself before second grade, resulting in chairs rarely being by the kitchen table. There were several times as a kid when I wanted to die, and once I tried to accomplish that.
I saw my brother in his downfall. Friedreich’s ataxia’s onset. His wheelchair at only ten. My curiosity getting the best of me. The first time I researched the disease, finding it was genetic. Every time I fell or slurred my words has a dreadful implication. That chair would take away my independence, something I could no longer live without. I promised her though, I promised her I would never pull the blade across my skin or steal the breath from my lungs ever again. If my independence was taken the virtue of that promise would be robbed from me as well. I saw myself before the promise sitting under the shower head, the water tinted slightly pink with my blood.
My face reeked with shame and sorrow. My heart was twisted in agony. But despite my pain the mirror was not done.
I saw my parents divorce, my father’s near success at killing us all. I could see my faith waver and then snap with no angel to revive me. I could feel the pain that kept me in a bed and hear the doctors ask the same questions but never have an answer. I was a mystery they would say as another test came back disproving any theory of why my stomach pain was severe enough to make me faint.
I saw my realization that I was a mediocre artist, a mediocre writer, and a mediocre student. I was not special and I was most definitely not perfect. However, I wasn’t good at anything else. I grew up thinking the world had a place for me, a purpose only I could fill, and then I realized how misled I was. There are a lot of people and if I don’t fill a slot of purpose someone else will. Life did not factor in every individual. Life is not fair. Life is not designed to meet my needs and wants. Life leaves surviving and finding happiness up to me, and I’m afraid I failed.
I saw it all. Everything I pushed out. Everything I shut away. This was my greatest fear, to face reality, for the fog to lift and to see everything as it is, and then realize there was nothing I could ever do. I was independent, but I was powerless. I could want to do everything myself, but life could take everything away, life could make me unable to do things myself, dependent in a heartbeat.