You’re the real you: A story about mirrors, reflections, and Self

I’ve based a lot of personal philosophy on Granny Weatherwax from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books.   Sometimes, Granny weaves herself directly into my life – rather than being a foundation, she becomes a teacher in her own right.

That’s exactly what happened with one of my gorgeous clients.  Let’s call her Sweetie.

Sweetie is dealing with a huge transition phase, torn between who she truly wants to be – the authentic expression of her deep Self – and who she is right now – a person shaped by ‘should’s and ‘have to’s.  The fear of not fitting in terrifies her so much that she doesn’t recognize herself in the mirror anymore.

The dissonance between who she really is and the person she’s become is so profound that when she looks at her reflection, sometimes she doesn’t know which is real – the image in the glass or the person standing before it.  She said, “Sometimes I feel like I’m in a house of mirrors.  I literally see something different from day to day.

And so I told her the story of the Weatherwax sisters, Lilly and Esme (Granny).

The trouble with mirrors

Lilly Weatherwax is Granny’s younger sister who became a fairy godmother, which isn’t as nice as it sounds.  By the time Witches Abroad begins, she’s completely gone to the bad – she believes all stories have to turn out perfectly, with fairytale endings, and that she’s the good one, which is the trademark sign of a villain.

What’s special about Lilly is that she’s a mirror witch; she splits her soul into billions of pieces by standing in a ring of mirrors and sending herself all over the world.  The power she gains is immense, but it comes at a terrible cost.

When Lilly’s sucked through her mirror at the climax of the story, she goes to Death’s country, where there are billions of her standing around.  She furtively asks Death when she can leave, and he says she’s free to go when she finds the real Lilly in the crowd.  She runs off, searching.

But when Granny is sucked through the mirror and Death says she can go when she finds the real her, she immediately says that “this one” is the real one. And she comes back to life.

The difference between the two sisters is that Esme knows that her true Self is her true Self, but Lilly had put so much time and energy into scattering her soul into other selves and voices that she couldn’t remember which was which when it mattered most.

You’re the real you

Anything can be a mirror.  Your reflection is held in the faces of your friends and family, the work that you do, the beliefs you have, the things you own, and even your own body.  Each element of your life is a sliver of you, a tiny fragment of the whole.

But the reflections themselves, even glued together into one big mirror, aren’t You.

When you rely on the outside world to tell you who you are, you’re lost – like Lilly.  You’re so intent on using the mirror as a path to Self that you forget that the person doing the looking is the real one – the only one that actually matters.

There are dozens of voices and false selves swirling around in your head, trying to tell you to be this or that.  The voices/selves that scare you, hurt you, and confuse you are mirror copies – they’re not real, and they’ll never get you where you want to be.  It’s easy to get confused and chase down the shades of Self instead of knowing that the voice that guides you through hard times with love and honesty is the real You.

Granny knows who she is, where she is, and what she is.  She can see into the mirror without losing that confidence of Self.

Can you?