Monday, April 14, 2008

Hope rises

Outside, tenacious night yawns dark still but in the distance, tendrils of sunlight glint a promise of surcease on the restless muttering lake,

I stand, eyes unfocused, staring beyond the reflection in the window, seeking for some sense of what the unfolding of the hours mean as restless and unsettled, I seek a small sneaking solace in the glimmering hint of light which holds in its warm embrace a promise I am scared to believe.

I find myself endlessly fascinated with the way the mind can manipulate and distort our perceptions of how we look and present both to others and to ourselves. It is an impossibility to truly see yourself as others see you- a reality I find frustrating if somewhat amusing.

As if I look in the mirror of the window, reflecting back to me my wavering image, around the edges of my body I see the blurring and blending of my corporeal body into the stuff of the reality around me. My skin, always pale, starkly white, freckles glowing on its skin which if I look carefully seems to be thinning and becoming transparent.

I lean forward and stare intently into the image of the person reflected back at me. It is as if I can see the delicate tracery of blue veins beneath the skin, as though the very blood trickling through the complicated highway of my existence is exposed and raw. My eyes, are as I have always seen them – uncommitted, wishy-washy, unable to decide a true colour… green bleeding into blue into grey .. unable to make up their mind. Like my mind. Like my existence.

Sometimes I feel the reality of who I am fading into the fabric of reality around me. I feel the essence, the soul (for want of a better word), trickling away into the infinity of the universe where the blending and melding of that which makes me unique wanes into the vast abyss of sameness.

Have you ever had those moments, when in a store window, or a mirror you suddenly glimpse yourself, a fleeting glance and for that second, do not recognize that person? Its like listening to your voice on a recording … we don’t associate our voice – internalized and emitted from within – with that external rambling … that CAN’T be our voice …

So many of us suffer from some level of dimorphic vision… an inability to truly judge our appearance, a tendency (almost obsessive) to focus on what we perceive as negative physical attributes to the exclusion of all else.

I’m not sure if this is primarily female… and more so, a submissive trait? For it seems to me, reading through various blogs and musings, that more often than not, submissives as a group tend to struggle with their own self-worth.

Rationally, I know how negative it is to denigrate oneself; for truly, I am a harsh critic of my own appearance and personality. I look in a mirror and see the wishy washy eyes, the bloodless skin and see how time is encroaching on the canvas of my life. I note with sharp eyes the beginning of slackness in a jawline, the hint of lines at the neck and cup breasts soft now compared to the hard firmness of youth. Worst of all and oddest to my rational mind, is my vision of my overall size – despite zipping up size 6 pants, I see myself in terms of billowing thighs and protruding stomach, of a non-existent waistline and legs grown generous.

Even in my twisted reasoning and distorted vision, I find a certain bitter humour. I marvel at how rational and emotional thinking collide and repel each other – that my rational mind recognizes that I am not the what I see in my mind’s eye but emotionally, I am drowning in flesh which surrounds me, embraces me, squeezes me and smothers me in its cloying embrace. I yearn for the jut of bone and sweep of smooth flesh, for the bumpity bump of a rib cage skimmed by firm skin and undisguised by softness. I flex my arm and hunger for sweep of muscle and sinew and the throbbing blue reality of veins under a thin membrane of pale skin. It is as if I cower within the confines of a body whose reality is as concrete as the touch of the glass against my forehead, as I gaze out over the lake, glinting now in the early morning sunlight ..

I know this negativity, this loathing of my own body is not just self-destructive but ultimately disrespectful and irreverent. For as D. pointed out one day, frustrated and angry at my negative self-image, I was, in essence, insulting his taste!

And when I look rationally, I know that my delight in yoga, my cycling, my obsessive use of the treadmill (although far from making me model material) – has given me long sleek muscles, and the long, strong bones of my frame are there – but instead, stupidly, I focus on the slackness of the flesh over a stomach loose from carrying four healthy children, the small pad at the back of the hip … finding, obsessing and focusing on the nots instead of the haves …

I stand looking out over the lake, the restless, mumbling water an intense deep navy, struck through with crimson and gold as the sun triumphantly rises in the east. Gold cascades through the deep purple of the morning sky, pushing back the night, dancing and weaving and sliding along the opaque expanse of air until it explodes against the exposed flesh of my face and shatters into a million glittering diamonds and hope, tremulous, tentative breathes against the vibrating confusion of my mind.


Buffalo said...

"Have you ever had those moments, when in a store window, or a mirror you suddenly glimpse yourself, a fleeting glance and for that second, do not recognize that person?"

Yes, I have. Once it pleased me - I wasn't as bad as I thought. I suspect if it happened today the image I saw would be grimmer than I think. I hope what is inside is worthwhile.

Beth said...

I read this post earlier but the kids erupted and I couldn't take the time to comment ... First, I just want to say that you are the most beautiful, poetic writer -- I love reading your posts! Okay, enough gushing.

Ah, the slackness of flesh ... mostly, I feel that the gifts childbearing gave to my body are the best ones ... except sometimes, when I'm feeling small inside. Seeing ourselves as we truly are is a difficult thing ...