What I Learned About Recovery From Creating a Self-Portrait

Recently, I invited one of my closest friends to my apartment with the intent of crafting in an unusual way. We were making self-portraits, although I don’t think I can call it that because I was not creating a portrait of myself, we were making portraits of each other. We had no rules, or restrictions on what we could or could not do, just two young college women, sitting on a dorm room floor, hot glue-gun ready for firing, fingers already dipped in paint, and splattered glitter on the floor.

We were talking, and laughing, and I found it so easy to look at my friend and see the beauty in her. I was trying to keep my work private, but I was nervous as I saw her swooshing around the paint on her canvas, curious as to what she was doing, and even more terrifying was the thoughts that were running through my head. “Oh God, look at how she’ mixing colors, she’s probably painting me as some sort of distorted blob! Does she really see me that way! Well, of course, she would see me that way, who wouldn’t?”

Well, to answer my own question, the answer is nobody. Nobody sees you that way. Your disorder sees you that way, and your disorder is not a person.

Your disorder is a coping mechanism, it is a manifestation of your pain and your struggle, but it is certainly not the self

My friend knew that. She saw something in me that I didn’t see, and that I couldn’t see, but now I have to, and now I will.

The portrait is sitting on my desk, and I looked at it long after she left for the night, and long after my lights were turned off. I was lying in bed, and I burst into tears, and I realized that the person I was looking for, and the person that I wanted to be, was right in front of me, and she always will be.

©2016 Rachel Onefater

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