In the new age, I find myself looking forward to my deaths more than my rebirths.

The process of destruction is one that begins in the mirror, having always represented the final form of vanity. Something about the fragility, the careful and breakable arrangement of molecules, sends a warning to my system. Were even one of the shards to fall out of place, they’d turn fatal. I’m expected to put my trust into something that could spill my blood, and what does it give me in return? An image that destroys me from the inside out, that twists my mind to see something nonexistent?

As a child, I could never look into the mirror, especially at night; I feared what would be looking back at me. How ironic. The reason I now avoid the mirror stems from something completely foreign, something halfway between dysphoria and dysmorphia. Seeing my brain warp my body like a funhouse mirror has become the new reality; my balance is skewed at the need to leave my body and go somewhere else, on a simultaneously physical and emotional scale.

The temptation to rip my skin to the floor and see what I find beneath is beyond overwhelming. If I could just carry that act out, I could finally see what’s waiting below. If I could take a scalpel and cut down halfway through my face, I could see what’s been missing all along, some sort of escape or answer. All I know is that I can’t stare back at the person I used to be, so docile and unmarred. There’s one problem attempting to revive yourself after trauma: It’s impossible to do well. People try to carry it through directly in the aftermath of heartbreak, grief or adversary, and fall straight back into their old, sickening habits. Exceptions only occur in the darkest of places, by killing off the innocence, the parts of yourself that got burned.

Maybe I’m just being dramatic, or playing up a tragedy for the purpose of art, but there is one thing I know for sure. Before you can shed your skin, you need to let it heal first. Picking at the scab too early on only ends in blood. Facing the outside can be easy, but only if you remember to put on your face first.