I’ve struggled since I started this blog trying to figure out how to explain this particular painting. On the one hand, it needs no explanation in a general sense. I have found it is a piece that touches the hearts and souls of many wounded individuals. Yet, for me, like most of my paintings, there is a story. There is something that drove me to create this.
So now there is the dilemma of how to publicly speak of my pain (which I will grant you is hardly a unique pain) without “airing dirty laundry” and by default speaking poorly of another, no matter how warranted I may feel such descriptions may be. At the same time, if I am honest about the feelings and emotions that are behind this piece, such a perspective and criticism is unavoidable. My caveat is I will try to do so as tactfully and gracefully as possible without delving into too many details.
Completed in 2013, I knew at the time I painted this my life was amiss. I knew I was turning into a person I didn’t like and while I knew it was a particular relationship in my life that was responsible for that change, I had no idea the depth of what was happening to my soul and spirit until nearly a year later.
This piece was based on 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
Our life, our reality, is but a dim reflection of what God intends for our lives and our world. The pain, the sorrow, the suffering, and the poor self image many of us carry around is a distorted reflection of what is intended.
Life was certainly distorted for me at the time. I was struggling to make sense of a life and relationship that had been spiraling for at least a year into a chasm of chaos that seemed more like a Lifetime movie script than real life. I lived in a fog, clinging to the hope that the crazy around me would at some point settle down and “normal” would one day return. I awoke every morning taking a deep breath, forcing myself to get out of bed, then would take a long look in the mirror and wonder where the vibrant woman I had once been had gone. “It will get better,” I told myself every single morning as the reflection in the mirror became more and more foreign to me. I kept telling myself that there would come a time when every day wouldn’t be a battle that chips away just a little more of your soul. Some day, you won’t feel the despondency and sense of swimming upstream. Some day, you’ll wake up, look in the mirror, and won’t have yet another wound slicing open another piece of your spirit.
Some day… the crazy will end.
That became my mantra, even though eventually the image in the mirror became a complete and utter stranger.
This was not my life. It couldn’t be. I didn’t recognize myself anymore—a shell of the person I had once been; spiritually, emotionally and mentally beaten down into a world where simply surviving had become my goal. Nothing made sense and I was torn between my sense of duty and saving my own sanity. (And, admitting that even otherwise intelligent people sometimes make really bad choices in life.) Tears were the daily norm, and my reality had become so skewed that there were no longer any lines between truth and fiction. It all melded together into some surreal fantasy-like world where everything had been turned upside down. (Hmmmm… I think I just gave myself a new idea for a painting! Alice in Wonderland’s got nothing on the rabbit hole I fell down.) 🙂
Thankfully, saving my own sanity eventually won out. I soon realized through the help of many friends, family and colleagues that there was nothing I could do to salvage the other individual. The help they needed I was in no position to give, even if they had been willing or capable of receiving it.
It’s been a year now since I began the road to recovery. Where I was a year ago seems like another lifetime, and I see the vestiges of who I once was reflecting back at me again—albeit not exactly the same. Such healing is far from over and some scars you simply carry for the rest of your life. There will always be trauma triggers that I never used to have, anxieties that will likely never go away. My life, like everyone’s life, will continue to be a dim reflection of what God intends, but it will hopefully move forward toward some semblance of wholeness and peace.
2 thoughts on “In a Mirror Dimly”
Thank you for opening your heart. I relate. I am not who I was years ago but I still cannot look in a mirror. I can’t take in the whole picture. I still see a scar here, a memory there, an anxiety over there. I still can’t see what He loves about me or what others love about me.A very dear friend of mine once saw a drawing that I had done about how broken I am. We discussed it and then she asked me to draw a picture of a completed me, a put together me, that was in 2010……I still have yet to be able to draw it. Again thank you for your testimony and openness.
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Staci – interesting that you mention the picture of the “completed you.” I started a painting that was a self portrait. It had cracked glass running through it and a hand placing the shattered pieces back in place. (It was meant to be sort of a companion piece to my painting “Shattered.”) I had to stop working on it, though. I just wasn’t ready. So it sits in my studio unfinished – because I know it’s not where I’m at yet. ❤ Peace and blessings upon your healing process and remember that you are a beloved child of God, but to de-program yourself from believing the lies that caused the scars is a long and arduous journey.