Sunday, April 9, 2017

Mirror Mirror, On The Wall...

When I was young I was terrified of looking in a mirror after midnight. I’d read somewhere you’d see a ghost over your shoulder. It was probably the same book that said you could find out the first letter of your future husband’s name by throwing a long piece of apple peel over your left shoulder.

Unfortunately it’s impossible to make the letter ’T’ with one long piece of apple peel – I wasn’t convinced Tim was going to be my husband for about ten years.

These days I throw my apple peels straight into the compost bucket, but I’ve never been able to kick the habit of not looking into a mirror after midnight. I guess by day it’s easy to laugh at a silly old superstition, but in the middle of the night I just can’t shake the idea of glimpsing a luminescent figure behind me.

My solution is to keep my eyes closed. I rationalise doing this by telling myself it’s good exercise for my other senses, so i
f I have to get up to go to the loo I feel my way along the walls, searching out familiar corners, registering the change underfoot from carpet to tiles. Of course, along with not seeing any ghosts, there’s the added advantage I can’t see the enormous pile of dirty clothes that has materialised.

Once upon a time I may have thought I was alone with this strange fear of seeing ghosts in mirrors, but a quick search of the internet tells me I’m not, in fact, (like everything these days) there’s even a name for it: Catoptrophobia. There are probably chatrooms and such devoted to it too, or self-help blogs written by sufferers who have worked at overcoming their phobia.

Maybe I should read them and get some tips. They will probably tell me the answer is to gradually expose myself to mirrors – but what if that exacerbates the problem? What if, like people who are scared of spiders, who scream if they see one at any time of the day or night, I start becoming scared of mirrors in daylight hours too? What if I become so skittish and terrified that I jump like a kitten spooked by its own reflection every time I see one?

Maybe lots of people have this same fear and are working to keep it in check all the time – all those people exercising in mirror-walled gyms for instance, that’s probably the real reason you see so many people in active-wear away from the gym – because they’ve chickened out of going! And maybe that’s why people love their hairdresser so much – they’re like therapist-magicians, flourishing that cape across your shoulders, hypnotising you into believing the illusion of what you’re supposed to believethat mirrors aren’t dangerous.

But they are.

Perhaps my fear of mirrors is already out of control and I’ve been in denial, after all there are some mirrors in my house that I favour over others, and a few I try hard to avoid - there are certain mirrors that you shouldn’t look in.

Like the mirror in our downstairs bathroom – when I stand before it the light from the small 1930s window is slightly yellowed giving me a tired, wan appearance, the lines on my face are accented. ‘Don’t I look old!’ the voice in my head says, and it’s my mother’s voice and in the mirror I see parts of her face staring back at me and I wonder if I will suffer the same fate as her – maybe that’s the real ghost I am scared of seeing.

Have you seen a ghost in the mirror? 

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