Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: REFLECTION (10/10/19)
- TITLE: Mirrored Sunglasses - A Hiding Place
By Judith Gayle Smith
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"I love seeing me in your eyes..." Gleefully picking through an array of glaringly reflective mirrored sunglasses, we, early in the throes of puppy-love attraction, giggled at how we could not see each other while wearing these wild fashion specs.
I remember a photograph of us, taken professionally, where we looked so eager, so happy and young. Eyes wide open, freckles and uncombed hair - what were we thinking? Yet - this picture stayed on my desk, reminding me of what we thought we had.
He was a California "sun god" - with teeth whiter than today's picture-perfect smiles. Tall, bronzed, golden-blonde curls crowning an unforgettable face - he looked like a young Henry Fonda blessed with the intensity and charm of Peter O'Toole. Six feet tall, impressively muscled biceps, he constantly wore an uncertain smile. As if he could not believe it was possible to be caught smiling? Serious, bookishly knowledgeable, he was a Professor of Comparative Literature when we first met at church.
He hid behind a veneer of aloofness that protected him from other people's impressions of him. Crippled with an IQ of 183, he wrote on a college paper that he wanted to be known "as a nice guy with a cruel streak." He lacked "street smarts" - escape from his cocooned self, thrust into the real world would be throwing the baby to the proverbial wolves.
I loved him madly. I didn't see myself glowing in his eyes - I sometimes saw a slight glimmer I thought was me there. I saw the unrelieved torment in his eyes. He was a beautiful, brilliant man - but soulless. I was too besotted to see what he saw and desired from me. He told me he loved my ability to befriend all comers. He carefully presented me with the fifty definitions of love, found in his psychology books. Paranoid, he was not a "people person." But he was movie-star handsome, strong, and a joy to converse with.
We made a blissful photogenic couple - he with the wind teasing his hair into spirals, me with my teased, bouffant hairdo and love-sparked cat-green eyes. His eyes were Paul Newman blue. sigh. Friends knew we were meant for each other. He professed to love me, and I was blissfully, blindly reciprocating what I hoped to see in his sad eyes.
He, addicted to his mother's prescriptions enhanced with Ritalin, reflected back to me what I pitifully believed was true love. He saw in me the strength and indomitable will of his mother. Her nurturing strength, financial support, her iron will. He was eight years older than me.
He hated his mother.
His Anger Management psychologist and his mother both convinced him that I wasn't capable of helping him fight his demons. He divorced me and moved back in with his mother - at her insistence. He fought her, quitting college a few weeks before getting his Ph.D. He had married me when his mother was living in South America. We had a wondrous mental and emotional bond. He struggled spiritually. I was still a virgin when we separated after almost three years together. It broke me that he would not fight for me.
He was a gorgeous, tortured genius - beautiful to see, but pitiable. I responded to what were tormenting dragons tearing him apart, refusing to see the hunger and misery his heart shouted because I wanted to be in love with him. He wasn't ready for my innocent love - I was too eagerly ready to accept what I thought was love reflected in his baby blues.
I am fifty years matured past this tragic bonding. I still love him. His haunted face still follows me.
It took years for me to stop looking for myself in other people's eyes. I still search for the "me" that people actually see and desire. But those are whispering moments, pregnant with self-love, not prompted by unselfish caring. I look in the mirror and see my mother and my grandmother. Nurturers both.
I must put the mirror down and find my reflection in the Holy Scriptures. Do I want to be loved? Jesus offers it to me, honest, unflattering at times, and rock solid. His expectations for me bring me to life - not to engulfing misery and tragic memories of lost love.
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