Each to each a looking glass, reflects the other that doth pass.
George Herbert Mead (1903)
My sense of myself depends on how I think you see me.
When you stare in the street, it makes me feel ugly, unacceptable. I hate the staring. I notice the quick glances, too. The glances that yell, “you’re different”.
I care so much about what you think of me. I study your facial expressions, body language, to check for the minutest sign that I am annoying you, boring you, that you dislike me.
I expect you to dislike me. I feel rotten, bad as bad, to the very core. Hell, my entire personality – all that I think, feel and behave is fundamentally disordered. The psychiatric looking glass. I try to cover that up in a cloak of kindness. I want to please you. I want you to like me.
When meetings are cancelled, messages go unanswered, I worry that it is because you would rather not have anything to do with me.
I need you to like me, but I can never ask. When I asked as a teenager, there was a long list of things offered; reasons why I was disliked; being avoided; being excluded. I thought I was OK before then. Wanted. But I was very, very wrong. I can’t trust that I am acceptable anymore. I fear your rejection, most of all.
I am frightened that you will see how bad I am. How full of rubbish. I am frightened that if I show you who I really am, you won’t want to know me. I don’t feel able to trust you with who I really am. But I want to trust you completely.