I've been thinking about mirrors again. It all began because I finished a sweater and I thought I should photograph it. Since the particular sweater was a fairly easy knit, two basic rectangles, a photograph of the sweater itself, laid flat, seemed pointless. This meant I needed to capture a photo of me wearing the sweater and this became a problem... but not necessarily for the reasons one might automatically assume.
It seems I have no particular issues with taking a photo, of how I look in the photo, except that I just do not at this point feel like posing for a photo. I thought a mirror would be better. I thought I could hide behind the camera, again not because I have particular issues with how I look, but, surprisingly to me, I have issues with the reflection in the mirror as a reflection of who I am.
But wait. That last sentence resonates in my brain. I'll repeat. I have issues with the reflection in the mirror as a reflection of who I am. I know who I am. I am in one sense becoming more integrated than I have felt in a long time. And yet... And yet, I don't know who I am. The world has changed and I don't yet know who I am in the context of this new world.
When someone we love dies, we not only lose this other person whom we hold dear, we lose a part of ourselves. My father died when I was 25. It was a very rough period for me. I was, at the time, coming to terms with aspects of my personality that were much like my father, and they were not always characteristics of which I was proud. I was learning that those very issues that seemed to be the most intense between us where reflections of the very ways we were alike, even though our experiences were different. When he died, in some sense I was no longer his daughter, or I was, but the dynamic living part of that equation was removed, and the focus of my struggle moved from being external to internal. At the same time I missed him, I missed the papa who told me stories, and I regretted that I had not yet reconciled my own coming-of-age, with the memories of the papa of my youth.
And so here I am, once again a stranger in a strange land, the land without G defining part of my existence. G and I were together for 30 years and our 27th wedding anniversary would be this coming October. And I realized, with some shock, that I had been dealing with loss and the gradual loss of this person I hold dear for over half of that time, 18 years to be exact, I can remember that first shift as if it were yesterday, not 1995.
Not only do I need to define who I am as a person who is not part of an "us" I also need to define myself as a person who is not dealing with a constant battle againt loss. I need to define myself as a person unburdened. Many things were cast aside during that time and the road was steep, often rocky, and filled with potholes. In retrospect I harbor no real regrets. I did what I had to do with the inner resources I had available to me at the time. And although things were lost, other things were gained, and there is much joy in those small victories.
But now I find myself battle weary, alone, and oh so very tentative. Oh I have friends. I do not despair. But each of those things that were given up were a death of sorts, and they pile up onto that bigger void, the death of the loved one, and with that death, the end of the war that defined an entire period of my adulthood. And the absense of these things is palapble. There are moments of clarity and sunshine, and periods of fog. No wonder I prefer the fractured view. I still feel fractured myself.
Here is a better view of me wearing the new sweater. It is a simple thing really and exactly what I needed to be knitting now, an instant gratification project to rekindle my love of yarn and the joy of creating a sweater. Apparenlty it is perfection other ways too, not just as a knit: simple yet obscure, solid and yet open, hiding yet revealing. Oh my, I didn't think of all that until I looked at this photo.
(And yes, I love the upside down view as well. I intentionally leave the magnifying mirror in exactly this position so I can see myself upside down every time I walk into the room. It reminds me that nothing is as it seems, not to jump to conclusions, and most of all, not to be too serious.)
If you want details about the sweater itself, or a scarf which is in a tentative state of completion which in some ways mirrors my own tentative state, you can find that information here. It seems that sleeping blogs might live again.