A Glimpse in the Mirror

It’s not that I’m afraid of mirrors. There are some in the house. There’s even a full-length mirror in my son’s room, though you’d have to move a hell of a lot of stuff out of the way to get a look. But I find that I avoid them, because what I see in them frightens me. This is not eisoptrophobia, the clinical anxiety of mirrors, which seems to find its roots in the supernatural. (A brief perusal on the topic finds one afflicted young woman after another commenting that when she looks in the mirror, something else is looking back. Not to make light of it, I’m sure it’s a crippling problem, but this made me think of the response that puppies have when they first see themselves in a mirror.)

Over the years I’ve made a lot of self-portraits in mirrors, or reflective sheets of glass (like a plate-glass window) or even my reflection on the surface of smooth water. If I have time to compose, I can look. I can even study. But God forbid I catch a glimpse of myself in a department store mirror, or in some other similarly unguarded moment. It’s horrifying. Who is that woman? Today I experienced a riff on that with the new phone, which has a dandy gadget on it so that you can take pictures of yourself, and see what you look like while you do so. Mary, Mother of God, help me. Do I really look like that?

Okay, so it was late in the afternoon on a humid Ohio August day. My hair, graying at the roots and temples and hairline, was frizzy. It was shoved off my face by readers perched on top of my head. Whatever little makeup I slapped on this morning was long gone and my eyes looked small and plain and raw. What happened to the contours of my face– those once smooth plains are wrinkled and puckered , my face sags and droops and seems “lumpy” somehow. Who is that? It can’t be me.

The full length version isn’t much better. Despite my efforts over the last months and the moderate success I’ve enjoyed, I look and I think “How can I look that bad?” Because when I compose myself in front of a mirror, I don’t. My brain edits out the bad parts. I cock my head this way and then that way and I think “Okay, not too bad for 50.”  But when I catch a glimpse of  it in the mirror it’s more like “not too bad for seventy.”

I’m two pounds away from my 30-pound-prize: it’s a mirror, from IKEA. I’d like to say something profound about making peace with our fears, or coming to terms with one’s self– but you and I both know it’s not like that. This big mirror will be like the others in the house– safe enough. It’s those lurking outside that I worry about.

Today’s target 72.  Steps 2595

Breakfast: yogurt with granola. Lunch: fish sandwich, two cups watermelon, Dinner: 4 ounces ground beef pattie, half an avocado, two hard-boiled eggs, ear of corn, six ounces of raspberries

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