“I want to ask you a question.”
“Sure,” I replied. Seemed only fair since we were meeting for tea because I was curious about the master’s program in Spiritual Psychology my colleague was taking.
“How do you feel about mirrors?”
“How do I feel about … what?” I hesitated, sure the noise in the coffee shop had garbled his words.
“Mirrors. What do you see when you look into one?”
It seemed unrelated to our conversation. The response on the tip of my tongue “Fine. I feel fine about mirrors.” But it wasn’t the kind of conversation where fine was a sufficient answer to everything.
I paused and chose honesty.
“They’re not my favourite thing in the world, but it’s improving from the ‘avoid-really-looking’ place it used to be. I’m slowly learning to look and really see myself.”
That was September 23rd.
I’ve been thinking about mirrors ever since and what I see has been changing. In good ways. In ways I never imagined were possible. In ways that are allowing me to see myself with kindness and acceptance.
As part of that journey, I decided to take Vivienne McMaster‘s 10 day Beloved Beginnings course. It’s an easy, dip your tip-toes in kind of introduction to the life-changing and powerful gift that Vivienne is bringing to the world by teaching people to use self-portraits as a way to see yourself with compassion.
It started with a simple exercise. Put one hand over my heart and whisper a little love to the woman I am today. And then use the other hand to take a photo. Late one night after I was ready for bed, I tried out the suggestions that Vivienne had given. Words like “You’re enough” and “It’s all going to be okay” but I realized that those weren’t the words I needed to hear in that moment. What I needed was to speak three small words out loud and hear them quietly ring in my ears.
I needed to say out loud the words that had become true to me in a moment of surprising clarity a few days before as I’d continued to ponder why I felt the way I did about mirrors.
With my hand on my heart, I whispered the words quietly, hesitantly, questioningly at first. Trying them out to see if their truth still held up in the light of day.
I’m not broken?
I clicked the shutter button on my camera phone. I grimaced at what I saw reflected back on the screen, but the words, while unfamiliar, still felt true.
I whispered the words again, just as quietly but with a little more confidence. If they still felt true when I saw myself with eyes half closed, hidden behind glasses obviously thick even when they’re made with “thin” lenses, maybe they really were true. The shutter clicked again.
I’m not sure how many photos I took that night. Each time, I pressed the camera button, I said the same words over again. Soon there was no hesitation. The love I needed to hear from myself that night was a strong declaration of truth that was in stark contrast to the lie I’ve believed about myself for as many of my 44 years as I can remember.
I’m not broken.
Each repetition of the words allowed the truth it sink a little deeper into a wound so old I don’t remember when I first began to believe the lie.
As I continued to take photos, the words took on a new tone.
They became a celebration of truth that I could now hear and claim as my own.
So many of us have breathed in that lie. That we are broken, damaged, not good enough no matter what we do, no matter how hard we strive. But it’s not true. Even if you learned it in childhood, in Sunday School, it’s still not true.
Yes, you may do broken things. There may be parts of you that have been broken and damaged by whatever life has thrown in your path. And it may even be true that we have all “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, but there is a truth deeper than that, a … deeper magic, if you will. We are all created in the image of the divine. At our core, we’re not broken.
I’m not broken.
You’re not broken.
At our core, we are beautiful and whole and we reflect the divine.
So what about you? How do you feel about mirrors?
I’d love to her your story in the comments or over on the facebook page.
P.S. Getting to meet Vivienne, hang out with her, give her a great big in-person hug and say thank you was definitely one of the many things I loved about Soulsisters!