Long before I started drinking, I had a hard time looking at myself in a mirror. I didn’t like what I saw…ever. If I had to look in the mirror to fix my hair or something, I’d squint. If I had my glasses on, I’d take them off, and then I could breathe easier. If I forced myself to look in the mirror and not squint, I’d make some kind of crazy face. I hated the way I looked, and to an extent, I still do. This all started when I was around thirteen, and the problem continues to this day.
I’d hoped getting sober would take care of this issue, but it hasn’t. I’ve certainly gotten better about it, and this morning I forced myself to have a neutral face and look into my own eyes as I dried my hair and brushed it. The moment wasn’t terribly long, though. I’m so accustomed to squinting to avoid seeing myself, it feels downright bizarre and troubling to do anything different.
I’m not being to hard on myself about it, and I certainly don’t throw this out as some kind of ploy for pity. It’s just part of me, and I have a idea of where the habit began, psychologically-speaking. When I was younger, I felt like I didn’t measure up on the inside, so I naturally felt that my physical appearance mirrored the internal sense of myself. It’s the same reason that today, with nearly eight months of sobriety, I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would want me around for, say, a party or any kind of function. But I don’t let those thoughts control me any more; I let them come and go, and if I feel kind of crummy, I feel crummy. They’re just thoughts, and feelings are just feelings. If I need to narrow my vision in front of the mirror for the rest of my life, I do. At least I’m doing it soberly.
Since taking on my new job, I haven’t been able to make it to therapy, and I’d like to correct that. I’m sure my therapist would have some good suggestions for me. I’d also like to build in more time for meetings, but regardless of therapy or meetings, I’m committed to remaining sober. Come what may, there isn’t any situation that picking up a drink will improve; not a single damn one. My life could completely fall apart and leave me a sobbing mess on the floor, and adding alcohol to the picture would just add to the problems.
These thoughts are coming to me, I suppose, because I have some time between classes, and I’m not accustomed to that. I’m prepared for my next class and even tomorrow, so I’m able to get in touch with what I’m feeling, and I do best when I process my feelings through writing (and making music, but I don’t have a guitar or piano handy, so the blog will have to do).
On the way to work this morning, I looked at my tattoo (if you’re new to the blog, it’s a dragon holding a shield emblazoned with the AA symbol and my sobriety date). I tend to personify all kinds of objects, and my tattoo is no different. I’ve named him and appointed him as my guardian. I had a moment of weakness as I drove past the grocery store where I used to by wine, and I reached over and placed my left hand on the dragon. “We’ve got this,” I said quietly. “Everything’s fine.”
This post has gone in directions I hadn’t anticipated, and my first reaction is to edit it, but perhaps someone needs to read what I’ve written. As the Big Book says, we seeks spiritual progress, not perfection. Also, I’m not going to “should” myself, because that won’t help. I shouldn’t be anything other than what I am right now: a sober 41-year-old man, husband, father, teacher, son, brother, writer, and musician. If he happens to be someone who can’t manage looking full-on at his reflection, so be it.
There’s no drink in my hand and no promise of one this afternoon or this evening. That, my friends, is enough.