Behind Those Eyes
There was a time, many nights and lives ago; that I looked into her eyes and was completely stunned and paralyzed with what she showed me as she stared back at me. I could not look away or even walk away because I wanted to know why she was so full of pain and mistrust and almost blankness other than the pain. For some reason, I felt I could help her and wanted nothing more than to make the pain go away and ease her soul and eyes. Behind those eyes was a soul of someone so much older than her maybe ten years of age. She did not flinch or try to look away or even try to pretend she was other than who she was. She did not smile, but then how could she smile through the life that was hers and the hells she must be living in. I did not want to blink or move suddenly to scare her or lose her gaze at me. I could not understand why she was not crying and begging me to save her, but she was not. There was no judgment or expectation in those eyes that this was what I, the adult, should do. There was no feeling left inside her because that had been taken away some time ago.
You see, her story is like so many more that we hear about but never meet, see in front of us but never look at, know what is going on but never want to get involved. My first time seeing her was in a convenience store mirror and she was looking very different on that early evening. She was blank and seemed to have no soul and showed nothing of herself as her gaze met mine in the high mirror in the corner where thieves could be seen and caught. There was no look of needing me or my help as she just stood and stared at me. Under all the things she wore, the masks and clothing, I could tell she was a very beautiful girl and I could imagine her smile would be radiant and her laughter something that warmed a room. She seemed tinier than I think maybe she actually was and maybe underweight under the clothes she had on. That first sight of her left me so full of questions and even the inability to look away as she held my look for what seemed like forever but was probably only minutes. I finished up what I was there to purchase and went home in almost a daze, haunted by those eyes. At that time I had no idea her and those eyes would be something I would run into over the next many years of my life.
As I grew into adulthood and changed the way I looked as we often do when we grow, I would see her from time to time in establishments like public stores and she changed the way she looked as she grew; but she would always take my breath away with that pain I could see in those depth filled eyes into her soul. I wanted to help her so badly every time I saw her as she was getting progressively smaller and in more pain each time she came into my view. I already knew I could not though as she had that do not touch me feeling about her. It would sadden me as I saw her and make me angry as I wondered where her family was and why they were not taking care of her. I wanted to ask her that but she always moved away before I could get to her. It was like she knew I wanted to ask questions she was not ready to answer and would run like her life depended on it.
Over the years I would imagine different lives and living situations that took her to such pain in one so early in her life. I would imagine her kidnapped from her family, that she was being abused and even that she was homeless and without family to take care of her. But I never knew if one of those was the real one or even a different one because she would never let me close enough to ask her; she was like a deer caught in headlights and left the scene of my life quicker and quicker each time. When we would catch each other’s eyes she would always show me the pain but never show me why. She would never ask me for help but her soul would beg for kindness through her eyes and then she would run again.
And then my life kept moving on and I kept moving on and I could still feel those eyes burning into my head every once in a while when I would think about her and wonder where she was and how she was. I would say prayers for her to a God I did not believe in, to keep her safe and out of harm’s way. And as my life took twisted turns and my roads became ever harder to maneuver; I would think about her less and less often. But once in a while those haunting eyes would come into my head and then leave just as fast as they had come, and she used to come, and then my day would take over again and she would be gone to the back of my head once more. This went on for many years and she would occasionally pop up in my head at random times and I would wish to see her and see how she was doing.
And then I awoke one morning and was going about my day and I just happened to glance up and there she was. It had been twenty some odd years, but there she was moving down an aisle in the grocery store. I caught her eyes and we did not turn away from each other. She did not run and she kept my gaze for what truly felt like hours, but was only a number of minutes. In that short time, she let me see into her soul once again and realize that things were not better for her at all. She seemed to have lost so much of the pain I thought, and then I stared longer and realized she had just found ways to hide it. Her soul was almost gone and where it was there now seemed to be this black hole of nothing. I almost cringed at the hate she had behind those eyes because that hate was for me. Guilt filled my soul and mind as I tried with my eyes to let her know I was sorry. I tried with my eyes in that mirror to tell her my life had not been easy either and that I so wish I would have done something way back when our eyes first met. I tried to walk the aisle over to her to hug her and apologize to her but she was already gone, again. I left that store without my shopping and I found a private corner of the parking lot at the edge to continue to expel all the tears that were pent up inside me for so long for her. I waited what seemed like hours for her to come back but she never did. I finally left the parking lot drained of tears, swollen eyes, and filled with guilt for not helping her way back in the beginning when I first saw her, and she showed me her pain.
And then I felt the truth and saw the truth and knew the truth. I finally figured out her story and what had caused those eyes to become so full of pain and sorrow and then emptiness and void. I finally knew what had happened to her and why she was back in my life again. I was moved to excitement and then fear and then anger. Wave after wave of emotion coursed through my body, heart, and soul. I couldn’t make it stop and it was hard to breathe and I could barely catch my own breath. I wanted to rip the rope around my neck, or so it felt like it anyway, but there was nothing there choking me and yet I still felt like there was. I wanted to throw up but there was nothing in my stomach to make this happen. I was shaking like I had never shaken before and I sat in the chair where I lived not wanting to do this anymore. I wanted to have that numbing feeling like she was having. I needed to not feel these overwhelming emotions running through me, just the same as she had needed. I needed to not be the girl with those eyes that had caught my attention in a mirror so long ago in a different life when we were maybe ten years old.
Oh yes, it was myself that I saw in that mirror all those lifetimes ago and then I would only really look in a mirror after that when I was not expecting to. It did not look like me as I only saw the eyes and not the face. And maybe back then I couldn’t have faced the truth that it was me and that is why I only saw the eyes. And the pain I felt way back then was that I did not belong in the life I was in. That life was not a bad life at all; but the places I had to go to feel accepted and the things I had to do to not feel the pain I did not even understand I had at that time, well, that was not any of the stories I had imagined for those eyes. The pain at that time was not a physical one or even psychological one in her life; it was in my mind and my soul where these pains lived. It was in my mind, heart, and soul where these grew over time.
It has been many moons since this truth was shown and I was ready to heal those pains. I had to add so many more pains to these before I would come to a day when it would be over. My time came to be me and do me and love me.
When I think back to all those mirrors, in all those stores, and always being mesmerized by those eyes. Behind my own eyes and into my own soul as I watched from a distance my life being taken over by pains I did not want to know and feel even less.
I remember coming into the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous, so tired of trying to die and so lost in my pain and anger and hate. I remember the work I had to do to become part of the living and still not liking me in the mirror. I would detest getting my picture taken and still do a bit today. Then I did the work on me to learn how to tolerate me, then like me, and today I love the eyes in the mirror. And when I catch these eyes in a mirror today; the ‘behind those eyes’ is a very different picture. Where there was once sadness and pain; today there is love and light.
Thank you for taking this journey with me today, and as always; if you enjoyed the read please like, follow, share, and even comment if the mood so strikes you. And as we come to the end of this day’s piece I am going to continue on with the commonalities we human share.
The twelvth word I am going with today is pleasure. I truly believe we all have the ability to be pleasure or be given pleasure. That feeling we get when we do something nice for someone or they do something nice for us. Whether it is as simple as buying a coffee or holding a door open for someone right through to having someone appreciate how hard we work or notice when we are not quite right means we do all share this trait and ability.
My week, going forth is going to see how much I can bring pleasure into my world by making it in your world. Make your week filled with pleasure; whatever that looks like for you.