My painfully awkward awareness of the external image I projected to my teen mates was made more acute by my ever dissipating self-image. Before leaving the house, or in the cloakroom at school. I would stand in front of the mirror straining to catch a glimpse, through its milky film, of my ever dissolving reflection. Was this how everyone else saw me; a featureless, dislocated jumble with no clear identity? Or was i just becoming invisible like a vampire in a house of mirrors. I knew I was there, somewhere beneath the mirrors swirling mist and sometimes I would stretch out my hand to touch the mirror as if I might be able to reach in through its surface and grab the hand of my drowning self and pull her clear of its darkening waters. Though I couldn't see her. I knew in those moments that she too was reaching for me but we were never able to touch as the mirror's glassy surface, like ice over a frozen lake , would forever hold her captive, her image frozen in time.
She would never grow old, never look tired and never smile back at me. The features of self were being eroded in my mind's eye as well as in the glass. Without visual confirmation of my existence , in my darker moments, which were often hosted by the stock cupboard, I sometimes wondered if I did exist as a solid form or if I was as translucent and transient as the mirror and stock cupboard would sometimes have me believe.
Like most things there was an advantage to my increasing incapability to visually see myself. On days that I may have been horrified by my reflection's appearance, due to bad hair, a pimple or frumpy outfit. if I felt good in my spirit,I looked a million dollar in the mirror image of my mind's eye. The downside was that if I actually looked great but felt terrible, I had no way of reassuring my self -confidence, I literally saw myself as I felt not as i looked which, as a teenager, often left me wanting to hide or chanting silently in my heart ' Mirror, mirror on the wall ..... My invisibility left me craving the reassurance of others in my more insecure moments and thus could be heard repeatedly asking, to Ophelia's annoyance 'Do I look O K in this?" Irritatingly I discovered that a certain vulnerability accompanied my retreating reflection. The flippant cruelty of a teenaged comment had the ability to tattoo itself upon my self- image and self- confidence with a permanence that a glance in the mirror, looking at a reflection as distorted as the comment, unable to dismiss its validity and reassemble my self - image without its blemish. After a few too many lengthy sessions in front of my bedroom mirror straining to remove a mutinous hairstyle, crooked eyebrow or non existent freckle, the girl in the mirror trapped beneath the ice broke through my paranoia by sticking out her tongue at me or winking at me out of the corner of my mind's eye, as if like a friend trying to make me laugh and see how stupid I looked. I inevitably broke into a smile at this point and started to giggle at myself and at the girl in the mirror, wherein lay the beginning of a firm friendship with the girl beneath the ice - friendship born of dialogue not symmetry.