(The story of a chronically ill man)
His gaze falls upon an unknown figure in the mirror. He has tried to ignore for year but fails to do so. You see, the wounds from surgical procedures must be attended to so he must look. There the image is, staring back at him. It is also looking at the same wounds and scars. It winces in pain. it cries at the sight. Why? Is it mocking the man? Teasing him because of his pain and agony? No. The image in the mirror is the man. He has forgotten who he was.
He no longer wants to be what is in the mirror, what everyone else sees. Try as he might to explain it, he just can’t . The fear of being judged and looked down upon haunts him.
The identity he made for himself is gone. No is no longer strong, confident, or defined.. The body is bruised and battered. Scars and wholes cover him. They are signs of struggle from a war that he is not winning. Pain and weakness cover his face although he crease his lips to force a smile. Even laughter has become a task…too much of it and he is fatigued.
The image that he avoided has become him. No one else sees it. They do not carry the burden of that visual. When he hears “you look good” all he can see is the image. Would anyone feel this way if they saw what he has to see each day? Hearing it has become a burden.
Denial of his condition pushed him too far. Trying so hard to be normal and escape the reality hasn’t worked. He now stands before that image and realizes that it is him. There is no more running from or ignoring it. There are no more calls to him for help for he can barely help himself. Own it, do not let it own you. Cletia thoughts like these bounce around in the mind. He wonders if he is a failure because he is sad and depressed about all of this. People make it seem as if one cannot mourn. So he hides it all in an effort to appear stronger. In the end he feels like a fraud. Who saves the rescuer? He has become tired and exhausted from the charade. Now the image speaks back, “Are you done running from me? I have watched you for two years. I too felt what you felt but you never comforted me. You ignored me and pretended I didn’t exist. All the while I was here, wearing down. I begged you to take care of me and to listen. You were in denial. So I waited. Now here we are face to face. Are you finished? ” Then I, the man, answered back, “Yes, I am.” As much as it pains me, I am finished denying that I chronically ill.
There isn’t anymore strength to pretend anymore. I am the image I tried so hard to ignore. So much time has been spent in denial. Constantly feeling ashamed and guilty for being sick and not being the person I want to be. There aren’t any more words to express. It is my identity.