Mirror of Self

Mirror of Self

“They will ask me when I first knew I was in love with you.

I will sigh and say I don’t know.

It happened in fragments, piece by piece, separate moments over the years. Moments – that’s how I remember it.”

~Chimeka Garricks (A Broken People’s Playlist)

Dear darling,

Eugene says I should do a better job at covering my mirror at night, the one that directly faces my bed’s headboard, so that sometimes when I sit up in bed in the morning, I see my face in the reflection and wonder whether the lovers who look me in the eye every morning, and whisper sweet nothings in my ear have a good brain between their ears.

I complain that I am having a hard time falling asleep, tossing in bed long after I have put away my phone. Long after I have fantasized about everything and anything. Long after I have filled my gratitude jar with sticky notes, and planned the following day’s to-do list. I say this is unusual, because sleep has always come easy to me, even on days when I was battling anxiety and panic attacks.

Eugene listens, silently, and when I finish my rambling, as I wait for him to offer solutions, he laughs and says, “Just cover that mirror when you go to bed.” I begin to laugh, but it ends in a chuckle when he quickly adds, “Just try for one night, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll think of something else.”

I try it. It works!

So nowadays the first thing I do when I wake up, before the pilates, before brushing of teeth, before reaching for my phone, is to pull that fabric that blocks the mirror and smile, before I begin speaking to myself. 

I have been speaking to myself lately, walking myself through the fragility of this life. Holding my hand whenever I felt scared. Patting my back, urging myself on even when the roads ahead seemed too uncertain, too dangerous.

It is difficult, this speaking to yourself, about yourself, while looking straight in your eyes. It’s is difficult, this reaching out to the bottom of your existence, fishing out memories that your mind had done a good job at blocking. This speaking to yourself, about yourself, in truth, because you realise this love in which you want to drown yourself can only blossom in the presence of truth.

And truth, the absolute truth about myself, has always been a subject of touch-and-go. Like touching hot coal with bare hands. Or holding frozen ice in your palms. It has always been something I mention in passing, as if these little moments of self, separate moments over these years I have been alive, are not the real meaning of my life, and this love in which I seek to drown myself.

But what is truth, if I want people to see me in truth, yet I can never face my own truths? Always fictionalizing my moments, making them look less daunting. Always treating these small moments, especially the ones laden with hurt, as if they were not meant to happen to, for, and around me. As if I was not destined for these truths that unsettle me even on days when I am not thinking about them. These truths, especially the ones laden with hurt, always finding their ways towards my heart and soul, begging, sometimes forcing to be addressed. To be acknowledged. To be told that maybe it was not their fault they look or sound the way they do. But truly, if we are being honest, they deserve this love in which I am drowning myself.

So I began this speaking to myself, about myself, while looking straight into my eyes. It started slowly, with lightness in my heart and joy in my eyes. Speaking about the things that bring light to my soul. Laughter. Books. Writing. Touch. Softness. Calm. Silence. Rain. Darkness. Music.

It was easy, speaking to myself about these things, because they leave my mouth even before my brain thinks about the right words. Because, somehow, my mind knows I never have to be right when it comes to these things that bring light to my soul. I exist in them, for them, with them, freely, without seeking permission from anyone, or anything.

But then I ran out of the light things, and promised myself that slowly by slowly, I’d begin trusting myself with the heavy stuff. These ones that weigh down my tongue, and make me lose sleep even when the mirror is covered as per Eugene’s instructions. These ones that I have covered, always, with loose laughter, disappearing chuckles, and long periods of silence. These ones that I have run away from for so long, but are still attached to my skin, their ugly scents stubborn, remaining in everything I touch. These ones I still cannot let myself speak about them without breaking down, and risking to lose all this love in which I am drowning. 

But how do I keep drowning myself in this love, and flying as high as a kite without looking myself in the eye and speaking about these things in truth? How do I make sure this love is drowning all parts of myself, and not leaving an island of these things that are laden with hurt, and darkness, and uncertainty, sometimes anxiety? How do I say I am completely in love with myself if I cannot love these parts of me that continue to make me doubt my purity?

How do I look myself in the mirror, and speak to myself, about myself, without breaking eye contact? Without stuttering? Without skipping the gory details? Without brushing some moments off as fragments of my imagination? Without, albeit in murmurs, laying blame on myself?

How do I love myself, in whole, if I cannot let these things off my chest? How will I ever know how light I am if I never drop the heaviness that lies in these moments? How do I begin to love myself, again, after I own these dark truths?

How do I face these things, without breaking myself apart, and still continue drowning in this love for self? So that when they ask me when I first knew I was in love with myself, I will sigh and say I don’t know. It happened in fragments, piece by piece, separate moments over the years. Moments – that’s how I remember it.

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Meet Eunniah Mbabazi
Eunniah Mbabazi is an Electrical and Electronic Engineer with a deep passion for books and literature. She has authored Breaking Down (a collection of short stories), If My Bones Could Speak (a poetry collection), The Unbirthed Souls (a collection of short stories), and My Heart Sings, Sometimes (a poetry collection). She has also co-authored Kas Kazi (a novel) and When a Stranger Called (an anthology of short stories).

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