where a woman can build her strength and freedom

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

Smiling young woman. I ask her – who do you see ?

Who do you see looking back at you
when you look in the mirror?
Do you see your best friend?
Do you see a child of God?
Or do you see “an idiot,” “a fat slob,  “a loser”?

If you are met with a hateful sadistic judgment like that
I’m sorry.
It is extremely painful.

If you missed my post last week, I talked about how we can deal 
with judgments and attacks like that coming at us from within.
Here it is, if you want to take a look:
What does it take to have freedom inside our mind?

Fortunately, there is no law that says we have to submit
to the destruction of our soul.
So, when we look in the mirror
why would we allow ourselves to be greeted with an attack?
Is that how we would greet our best friend?

Well, that person looking back at us in the mirror IS our best friend.
At least potentially, the best human friend we will ever have in this world.
If that is not yet the case,
it just means we have some work to do in building ourselves.
As long as we are relying on someone else to be our best friend,
we are using them to fill a void in ourselves.

In psychoanalysis we call this having a “self object.”
Using another person as an object to plug an empty place in our own personality.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine” goes the theme song.
It is sad and pathetic.
Relationships like this eventually break down.
Nobody can make us happy by providing us with sunshine,
if we do not already have sunshine of our own,
glowing within us.

Let me tell you a story

I remember Laurie, a young woman I worked with in therapy.
She was heartbroken because her boyfriend of two years had left her.
During their time together she had called him on the phone
whenever life became too much for her.

He loved her, was generous, and gave her a great deal of time and support.
But she never took over the role of providing that support to herself.
Instead of becoming her own best friend, she relied more and more upon him.
In the end, her extreme neediness drove him away.
She could not understand why he left.

When she looked in the mirror, all she saw was a total failure.
She became depressed and suicidal.
Laurie did not believe she contained anything of value
that she could give to another person.
All she knew how to do was drain another person dry.

Actually, she did not even know who she was.
She had never really asked herself.

We had to work a long time before she began to see herself
as a beautiful child of God (“child of Nature,” in her words)
with a unique contribution to make to this world.

Eventually she became active in the environmental movement
and built a life that gave her an identity of her own that she felt proud of.
No longer empty, she became able to begin giving to another person.

So how about you?

You, too, are a miracle of life.
No matter what you look like, your level of intelligence, or the degree of your success.
No matter how miserable you may be feeling today.
No matter what you are up against.
You, too, are a beautiful person
and you, too, can build yourself up to give your best to others
in a life you are proud of.

But to do that
you sure don’t need judgment.
Yours, or anyone else’s.
You need compassion.

Maybe you’re not feeling much compassion for yourself these days,
so let me offer you some.
I care about that person looking back at you in the mirror.
I care if you are in pain.
I’m sorry if life is hard for you right now.

We are all coming through a tough time with this pandemic.
But we are going to come through it
and rebuild our lives at a higher level.

I believe in you.
You are going to find your way
to a life where you are happy.
Where you are proud of that person
looking back at you in the mirror.
Proud because you are giving to others
the best of what you have inside you.

But to contribute your best to this world,
you first need to know who you are.
So let’s begin at the beginning,
and explore that question together.

What does it mean when you can say “I know who I am?