By Marcee Murray King
I can’t escape it. I have spent my life trying to not see it, to forget the similarities I bear to you in personality.
Behavior. Looks. I have not seen you in almost nine years—your choice—yet there you are, having spent the last three years alone, drunk, on pills, haggard and now filled with cancer that is eating you alive.
I am here, of course.
And still, all everyone says when they see us together this day in the nursing home is, “You look just like her! It is unbelievable!”
I joke with my aunt, alone as we walk down the hall, “Is it any wonder I’ve been suicidal most of my life?”…but it isn’t a joke, really.
I am terrified as I listen to you, convinced I not only wear your face but that I have become you. You’ve told me this my entire life, that we share a soul, that we are twins, that we are inseparable even as you have spent your entire life trying to rid yourself of my presence, attempting to erase all the traces of my existence .
I spent my teen years, my early adulthood, my mothering years, my entire life trying so desperately hard to not be you.
Yet, in every gesture, every tone, every glance, I see myself there, etched in the lines of your face, the slant of your jaw, the tone of your words.
All that I tried to not be….and this, I am afraid, I have become. The familiar fear has returned, and once again, I am afraid that one day everyone I love will see me under this mask we share, and know what I am really like, deep inside. Know that, really, I am you after all.
I had come so far, I thought, and yet here I find myself back at square one, feeling small once again; the same horrible knot in my stomach.
After all of these years, though, I have grown enough to be able to step aside and, with love and compassion, notice this. Witnessing my reaction. I can feel it, experience it, but my reaction, my falling apart inside…it is now just something to notice, something to be curious about. I am honoring my feelings, my distress, but believe—maybe—I am something more, something far beyond this reawakened despising of myself. Because, in the last year, for the first time in these fifty-some years of life, I can truly say I like myself. Love myself, even.
Maybe this time I am too strong to be destroyed by you again, even if I do wear your face.
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