December 11, 2011: I is for INTROSPECTION

“I stared into the mirror, long and hard into my own eyes. Right then is when it hit me, I began to realize…” (From New Best Friend – A Little Book of Faith by Vera Jones)

The bug to be an actress or entertainer hit me pretty early in life. I was probably about four or five years old when I began what I call “Mirror Madness.” I loved to stare into the mirror and make different faces and sounds to make myself laugh. Sometimes I stared into the mirror and I felt kind of ugly because I didn’t look anything like the Barbie dolls I got for Christmas. Other times if I had on an outfit I really liked, I would model it in front of the mirror acting out different roles and scenarios to match my cool clothing. Still other times I would just stare and count the little freckles on my face wondering where they came from and assigning each one a character role. One freckle would ask another, “Hey Mr. Mole, why have you grown so big? I am just a little freckle. You are taking up my space on this face. Could you move over some please?”

Before you organize a care committee to possibly have me psychologically evaluated and committed, know that I am really OK. In fact when it comes to taking a good look in the mirror, I think I have a jump on the rest of the population. I trust that I am very self-assured of who I am – me and all of my 1001 characters! Taking a good look at oneself is a very good thing to do. But it can also be a very scary thing to do. Just check me out on any given bad hair, morning breath, wake up moment. I’ve startled myself on many mornings, believe me! But far worse than the physical trepidation we may experience when looking into the mirror is the emotional or psychological truths we must face during introspective moments.

During a painful separation a decade ago, I remember crying hysterically into my longtime playmate called the mirror. My face was so contorted and hideous I barely recognized myself. I had been previously balled up on the floor screaming uncontrollably and babbling a bunch of incomprehensible syllables as I hurt so badly I had forgotten how to speak. It was by far the most distorted view of my physical self in that mirror I had ever witnessed. It was so distorted I began to giggle noticing my dark baggy eyes, my freckles glistening from tears and mucus, and my mouth white with pasty stuff gathering in the corners. My hair stood straight up on end as if I had just withstood an electrical shock and my white t-shirt was wet and stained with residual brown and black make-up from application earlier in the day. All I could do was laugh. The laughter felt really good, so I laughed harder. Soon I was a total nutcase laughing so hard I was crying and crying so hard I was laughing! Where was You Tube when I performed this act of pure psycho-mania? This madness would have gone viral in about five minutes flat! I could have been a star in no time!

What I came to realize in that moment was that I had become deeply depressed. A single mom with a three year old and a very visible television career at the time, I had done everything in my power to try to hide my true painful emotions. My cup of depression, however, had become a big bucket of lies, pain and sorrow spilling out of every corner of who I thought I was or who I was pretending to be. That long, hard moment of craziness staring into that mirror helped me to see I was not who I wanted to be and not even remotely close to who I needed to be. That moment of mirror madness helped me to reflect that once upon a time I was a very happy, fun-loving, faith-filled and creative person. After that moment of deep introspection, the voice of Faith spoke to me and told me I was still that person in purest form but I had allowed fear, pain, worry, doubt, bitterness and rage to take center stage in my life. I was acting way out of my God-given character. “Enough, already,” I said. It was time to pull the curtains on this bad act and re-cast Vera in a positive role.

Sometimes, as hard as it may be, we all need to take that long look in the mirror. We may not always be happy with what we see. But we have to have enough faith in the goodness of who God created us to be and ask for the courage and the strength to reveal that character, and not the negative roles that try their best to cast themselves as the stars of our show. When you are acting out of accord with the good person you are meant to be, you will undoubtedly experience pain. You cannot go on forever avoiding your mirror madness. Self-introspection is critical to personal growth. When we step to the mirror and discover we are wearing shoes or an outfit that simply does not suit our liking, we typically go and change it. Look a little deeper today. Does the countenance you wear or the spirit that lies beneath reflect your best? If not, have faith that you can change that for the better as well. You can put on something within that is most flattering for anyone on the outside to view, especially flattering to you, and most flattering to God.

Lastly, never be ashamed to talk to your freckles or any other body part for that matter. Laughter means there is still joy in the soul. From what I have experienced, virtually everyone wears joy quite well.

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