I’ve always been scared of eyes.
I don’t like
things touching my eye
talking about eyes,
thinking about eyes.
Bright lights are fires
sticks of eyeliner are
sticks of dynamite,
eye contact is painful.
I’ve always been scared of eyes.
This is because there is something living behind my eyes,
a part of myself I will never grace with a name
or try to drown in tears
for fear that I will baptize him.
There is something living behind my eyes.
It’s veiled in a haze of distance,
hiding in the twisting riddle maze of my iris,
embedding itself in the lining of my pupil,
this thing living in my eyes
is something that has grown in the darkness
just as the darkness has grown in him.
I didn’t always know it was there.
I grew up checking the closets and curtains
for monsters without knowing
the real monster sleeps
behind eyelids that flutter at night
building minefields into my pupils,
weaving fear into the lining of my retinas,
festering within the perimeters of my blind spot,
biding his time.
There he lives, behind the glass
behind the distance –
the most real part of me
and also the most hideous.
Barbed wire smiles and teeth of flint,
child of the knives in his back, hateful
but trained to be
because of the people
who named him ugly, grotesque,
he make meals of remorse
and spins scars out of guilt.
My body trembles with repulsion,
I’ve tried so hard to blink this thing away
so I don’t have to feel
like I’m not a good person.
But the twisted thing is,
I don’t know who I am without my monster.
I’ve always been scared of eyes,
because I’m afraid
you’ll look into mine and see
this thing that might just be my soul
blooming out like a disease,
he’s been contained for so long
that freedom has become
just another form of vengeance.
I’m ashamed of him.
These mirrors, these lights, these eyes
they don’t know what they’re looking at.
This thing likes
tying my eyelashes into nooses,
this thing plays hide-and-seek
with my sense of direction,
drawing the line between heaven and hell
like it’s something that
can be redrawn in chalk.
Games can be made out of anything, after all –
and I’m afraid if I try
caring for him,
I’m afraid the next time you scratch me
with knife coloured nails
I’ll hurt you back.
Because my monster keeps telling me about
the certain perverse pleasure
of learning to dominate someone
who once terrified you.
I want to be better than that.
But I still can’t look myself in the eye.
Maybe I just haven’t found a mirror
or a light
or a pair of eyes
strong enough to hold him yet –
strong enough to hold me
in all of my parts,
in light, and in the darkness
This was a poem I wrote for my “Portrait of Me” presentation and expresses how my very real aversion to eyes is a result of fear; it is a fear exposing how terrible I really am, at the core of my being. As much as I try to be good in every way I know how, there is a part of me that begs to be selfish, a part of me that is stronger and more influential than I would like it to be.
My eyes are the most vulnerable part of my body, thus I am very protective of them. For example, I wear glasses even though I could wear contacts because they are a stronger physical barrier between the world and my soul. I don’t like it when people force eye contact for too long, because even if they don’t know me, there’s always a chance they might catch a glimpse of this cruel, angry thing I have tried so hard to bury.
I desperately want to be good. But I am selfish by nature and I am selfless by nurture; this means I am still trying to find a balance between who I am and who I want to be.
The thing is, I am only so ashamed of selfishness within me because I have been taught that ‘selfish’ is synonymous with ‘evil.’ Selfishness is wrong, and that’s all there is to it. Conversely, selflessness is pure. To be selfless is to be good. It’s that simple.
Except that it isn’t. By definition, selflessness is something external to self and occurs when someone concerns themselves with someone else more than they do themselves. So wouldn’t an obsession with someone else technically be selfless? Wouldn’t the act influencing another be a selfless act, being as it is external to self?
The complicated interplay between selfishness and selflessness is something that fascinates me, but also terrifies me. How is it that I know myself to be selfish and want myself to be selfless when I don’t really know what either of these things are?
What I do know is that the monster who hides behind my eyes, whether I decide him to be selfish or selfless, is impulsive. He is emotional and exhausted and confused. He is to be pitied. But he is also to be treated with caution.
I guess I’m still trying to figure out how to accept him without giving in to him.