I have been trying to tap into my inner artist (I say “inner” because so far it hasn’t gotten to the outside yet!) and this morning I was reading about making a self-portrait and my brain came up with thoughts for a new post. That is how I write. I may go for days and days without any promptings to post and then something will trigger the idea for a post and no matter what I am doing, I HAVE to write. Man, I wish I could say the same for exercise…..
self-por-trait: NOUN: A pictorial or literary portrait of oneself, created by oneself.
What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you think of making a self-portrait? For me it is the fear of having to look into my own eyes. I may complain and bemoan my facial flaws but for the most part (and in candlelight and with my glasses off) I can live with what I see. But I cannot look into my eyes. What’s with that? I know it’s not because I am ashamed of who I am or who I was (I have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus for my past, present and future sins) but I am terrified of looking into them and seeing the pain of a fearful, little girl. Now, please understand I was not beaten or molested or any other of those horrid, horrid, things. I did have a very strict and quick tempered dad (whom I loved) and you never knew what might set him off and I was very afraid of him when he was angry but I was also terrified of just about everything in life.
I hated playing outside because I was so afraid of bugs. Any kind. Ants, flies, moths, bees and God help us if we got a woodtick on us! My mom would have to call in help as she was beyond terrified of them herself and could not take one off of us. Back in those days the way to get a tick off was to take a cigarette or a match and hold the hot end near the tick so it would pull its head out and you could grab it because Lord only knew what fatal disease you would get if the head was left in! (I now have had so much experience with them that if I feel one crawling on me when I am in bed, I figure I will find it in the morning somewhere and don’t give them a second thought. Joys of living in the woods. So not only did we fear having a tick stuck to us, we also had the fear of being burnt in the process of getting it off!
I was terrified of the dark. I had to have the hall light on and our bedroom door opened a crack so I could see the light. I think there must have been a time when our door had to be closed because my sister would yell out to my dad (if she was mad at me) that I had opened the door and he would tell me to shut the door and it was always a toss up as to which was the worse of two evils…the dark or my dad’s anger!
I was afraid of eating. Ya, I know. You are all thinking, “Well she certainly got over that fear”! Mealtimes were shall we say, “stressful”. My parents believed that there were starving children over in China and it was their responsibility to make sure we ate everything on our plates because of that fact. I, on the other hand, only could eat a few select foods without the abject fear of gagging which would lead to the BIGGEST FEAR OF ALL….VOMITTING. So you can see how mealtimes at our house were awful. Very awful. Extremely awful.
I was also very, very, very, afraid to go to birthday parties because what if they had food that I didn’t like (unless it was peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches I probably couldn’t eat it and those dang Chinese kids had infiltrated all the minds of the parents of the 1950’s so we were required to eat what was put in front of us no matter who’s house we were at!) and what if I felt sick? (Can you see an agoraphobic in the making?)
I could go on and on and on with my fears, but you get the picture. Fear ruled my life. Absolutely. 100 percent. All the time. In every area. I could never get away from it.
When I look into my eyes, I see the child who would lay in bed at night and pray to die.
“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray The Lord my soul to keep, If I should die before I wake, I pray The Lord my soul to take”.
I understand how little kids can take their own lives. Please, please don’t think it was because of how “bad” my parents were because they were just typical parents of the 1950’s. The pain came from the FEARS. The FEARS were my demons. THEY were in every cell of my body. THEY followed me everywhere. THEY were even in my dreams. I could not escape THEM.
Eventually I outgrew some of THEM but OTHERS took THEIR place. Today, 58 years later, most of them are gone. Most. Someday I will tell you about the ONES that remain. Not today.
So when I do actually make my self-portrait, I have decided to put mirrors in the space where my eyes should be. Why? I’m not sure. It just seems right.
“The eyes are the windows to the soul”.
Maybe I don’t want to see my soul? Maybe I don’t want you to see my soul?
What will your eyes reveal in your self-portrait? Go and look in the mirror. Look deeply into your eyes. What do you see? What do your eyes tell me about your life’s journey? Will you put in mirrors where your eyes should go or will you be able to paint your eyes in but maybe you will leave your mouth blank. How many of us have self-portraits that will not be able to be complete?
I would like to know what your portrait looks like. Will you be brave enough to share with me?