I have little to no doubt, having grown up in a seaside town complete with fun fair and regular county shows,
that as a small boy (and yes that is me aged about 4) I would have been taken to the fun fair or indeed those regular county shows by my family.
Likewise, I have little doubt that I would have gone into the house of mirrors. I am sure that you know the kind of place I am talking about? Full of mirrors which are re-shaped and designed to distort your reflection?
They are fun aren’t they? Also, I guess, to some they are fascinating. I can tell you that as a child things fascinated me and what others seemed to just accept or take for granted, I had to analyze and dissect and understand.
I still remember at a very early age taking my sister’s “very real looking” small toy iron to pieces, checking it out and then putting it all back together and trying to plug it into the mains socket.
Boy did that create a very noticeable explosion and sudden heat in the socket discoloring it as it blew all the electrics in the house! Boy, did that then create lots of very noticeable explosions, a lot of heat and a very noticeable discoloration on my backside when my father realized what I had done! But I digress…
Yes distorted mirrors at fun fairs can be fun can’t they? Mainly, I think, because the distortions that they create are non-threatening as you know that they are not really happening to you and are merely temporary. You can easily go from one distorted reflection to another without even worrying. Leaving any time you please.
But what if it the distortions aren’t temporary? What if you can’t escape them? What if you are trapped within the very mirror that is causing those distortions?
And what if you aren’t 4 years old, and able to analyze and dissect and understand?
What if you are much younger? A small child, even an infant perhaps?
What if, even then your mind created altered images, distorted perceptions, corrupted reflections? Not only of situations and circumstances but of others, and the way that you saw yourself and thought others saw you?
It all seems very dramatic, perhaps even very sinister doesn’t it?
Mildly amusing at first perhaps – when I talked of temporary distortions and took an old photo of myself at age 4 and distorted it slightly.
But then it all got a little more real, a little less amusing, a little more sinister and disturbing perhaps when I took that old photo of myself aged 18 months and distorted it to the image you see directly above.
But mental health problems can do that and mental health problems in children can be so very hard to cope with so very hard to understand and can have a very damaging and long lasting effects.
If you were a child and saw yourself like this..
…and your family told you are loved, and valued, and wanted, you might well find it very easy to accept.
But if you were a child and saw yourself like this…
…would it still be easy to accept that you were loved, and valued, and wanted?
Of course today I am much older, and apparently much wiser. I still analyze, still dissect, still seek to understand and my ability to do so is (apparently) greatly increased. Greatly increased that is, whilst my mental health is good. But what about when it isn’t? What then?
I want to be honest here. Even when I am at my most rational, even when my mental health is good and I am coping well, I know I still have to fight to see myself without the distortions that have been with me all my life (or certainly for as long as I can remember).
But here’s the deal, I have to fight. I have to go on. I need to see myself and understand myself and accept myself with the right eyes, the correct vision, the true perspective. To see myself as I truly am, how God sees me, if you will.
And I ask you, “What of you? What of your reflections? Your understandings? Your perceptions? Your image of you, and of others, and of how others see you?”