I am an artist and I have learned a special art.
I was once shut off from the world, eyes closed, my lids hiding my retinas from seeing or being seen. Unfortunately for me, this life was unacceptable to others who wanted to see me, the real me. They felt I was too shut down and closed off.
So I decided to give them what they wanted & I learned to paint. I started with black circles in the middle & little glimmers of light that spread out into blues and browns, ending in a thick row of lashes. I had learned to paint eyes, the window to the soul.
I began to paint these images on the outside of my eyelids. At first, in my amateur hand, it was obvious to even the passerby that my eyes were still closed, it was just an image covering the truth that I could not face the world. But I worked and worked and eventually no one but those very close could see the reality.
I was quite proud of myself and people were quite pleased with me. They said I was so open, so real and so inviting. I had grown so much! I congratulated myself for how far I had come but all along I knew nothing had changed, I had simply become a great illusionist.
Everyone saw me, saw the eyes I wanted them to see, but no one knew their real color, no one saw tears build up behind the rims, no one saw them burn with passion or shift in guilt, no one saw my soul & in return I could not see theirs. My eyes remained closed and my life remained hidden.
One day in conversation, a wretched human got too close and I cried too hard and the paint began to smear. They staggered back and were shaken by the fact that I was a fraud. I expected them to rant but instead they reached out to wipe some more of the paint away. I stepped back in anger and ran.
I fixed the bright images on my lids and found someone new that did not know my secrets. If anyone saw that these images of my eyes were a fake, I would simply move on and pretend it was their fault for judging me wrongly.
I learned to maintain a safe distance so that the smudges would not be seen. I learned to nod when expected and tilt my head to make my eyes look as if they understood. I was respected for taking on life so enthusiastically and for never blinking at the fight.
What a joke of authenticity. What a blanket of depression to sleep under knowing that your greatest effort and most noble endeavor is to simply hide! What a shame to wake up one day and realize you can’t even look into your own eyes & you don’t even remember what color they are.
So you see, I am an artist and I have learned a special art.
And then I regretted it. So with a warm cloth dipped in grace, I began wiping the dried paint, crusted and caked around the cracks in my eye. I washed and washed and washed and at first I looked like horror itself, MY eyelids cracked & swollen, hardly able to open them, it’d been so long.
People gasped at the sight. I shuddered. I wanted to run.
But sliver by sliver, my lids lifted. My eyes were green. Up, up, up they raised. My eyes were full of tears. They shifted in fear and anxiety. They were blinking at the light for the first time. I was afraid.
And the melting began. The falling apart of my self created identity. And it got ugly before it got beautiful.
Years later and my vision is still clearing. Hope can be seen in my real eyes. Faith can be found around the edges and pulsing from the depths. And tears are always washing over them. They are not sure and unwavering like the ones I painted. They are not always confident. But they are real and they are brave because my soul has found rest.
So look into my eyes and look close because what appears at a distance to be real is not always, and what looks to be genuine at first glance, can be the greatest hoax. Look deep into my eyes and if you see a hurricane, if you see a swirling tornado of emotions, I hope you will know that it took a lot of courage for me to show you. And it is the beginning of revival. It is the beginning of change.
The chaos is not who I am, it is the shedding of the skin as I stretch into who I was created to be. But without the shedding, the glory is never seen.