For several months now, I’ve been chronicling my chronicness by taking mirror reflected images.* The process started with the interesting way in which the mirrors in my mother’s bathroom could create cascading reflections within reflections. I published some as a photo essay on being a chronic for a blog carnival.
I try and ”point and shoot” at least one self-image a day; some of these might be considered more flattering – the mask that makes me look like a reasonably healthy, happy, and stable individual. This is my outer face; the mirror reflection I project for the real world to see.
But what strikes me as I look at the images later (I try not to “peek” until I have uploaded the pix to my photo editing “gallery”) is how some are so reflective (please excuse the thinly veiled pun) of how I am feeling mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically at that moment in time. As if I had truly captured my soul inside my Nikon; whether edited/automatically adjusted or no, the feelings are more raw; the images more visceral.
Who is she when the mask comes off? At times, still the lonely child and troubled teen, friendless and forlorn, trying to avoid the bullies, the mean girls, the taunts, ignored or shut out/not invited. Physical pains to match the emotional ones; the litany of meds, sleepliless nights and exhaustion days. What concerns her the most? New pains that have created limitations (having to close the lid on my laptop and disconnect from the cyberverse for increasingly longer periods); inner demons that whisper in the deepest darkest part of the night, the soul, the mind; depression that blocks out the sunbeams and prism-colo(u)red light of life. Inner and outer self-image bruised by weight gain (meds and emotional eating). Not that I’m shy in the virtual world from sharing my fears, my hopes, my sorrows, my wishes. In the virtual world, I’m an out-law with the in-laws (3 strikes and you’re out: no $, no kids, no career) and family gatherings require a mask that is half paper maché, and half titanium.
This Halloween, as I pass out the goodie bags to the kiddliewinks (pencils, erasers, glow in the dark snakes, pretzels, stickers), I think I’ll go as myself.** Which self? Given the occasion, of course, the scariest. Some days, I’m just not sure which self that is.
* hope to someday be able to complete the creative endeavor(u)r I envision as “project 360″: 360 days of self-portraits, poems, prose and whimsy as a means of enacting/recording a 360 degree shift in my life. But that’s for another day, another blog carnival.
** best adult Halloween costume was the year I went to my friend’s annual party as my alter ego. Had to learn how to walk in high heels, remember what wearing pantyhose felt like, take the braids out of my hair, and dress in a tasteful suit with short skirt. Brought back very scary remembories of my life as a secretary as we were called back in the “old days.”