• Ilan Cooley

the mirror

Updated: Aug 25

"I have spent the past year taking a long hard look in the mirror. I knew parts of me were shattered. Loss and grief had impacted my self-image, and I was looking at my own fragmented reflection in a broken mirror."


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I saw a meme posted by someone I know. It said, “one day someone is going to hug you so tight that all of your broken pieces will stick back together.”


She was in an abusive relationship and told me she felt it was her fault. I offered my support, but knew it had to be her decision to leave. I could tell she was shattered, her distorted self-image formed by looking at her own fragmented reflection in a broken mirror.

I was also once in a destructive relationship. It took some time to put my broken pieces back together again. Hugs are comforting, but I learned through my own healing we need to be our own glue.

It is hard to watch someone you care about struggle, but you can’t fix other people. There is no shortcut to figuring out who we are, what we need, and how to be happy. We can’t make other people happy either; it just doesn’t work that way. The road to healing and self-cohesion is a lifelong journey. There is also not just one-stop – it takes checks and balances, introspection and hard work all along the way. It involves constant self-monitoring and maintenance to stay on track.

If you have self-love and acceptance, and you know and trust the person you see in the mirror and like the person you see, you will reflect that version of yourself onto other people and into the world. This reflection of yourself will resonate to the people in your life and you will attract the same kind of people – the laws of attraction.

If you have self-doubt, and loathe, or don’t know and trust the person you see in the mirror, you will reflect that version of yourself onto other people and into the world. This reflection of yourself will resonate to the people in your life and you will attract the same kind of people. The laws of attraction work both ways.

I believe we encounter people to teach and test us. If you meet someone and they make you feel accepted, complete, wonderful and amazing, but you have still not repaired your broken pieces, you may simply be seeing a reflection of yourself in them. Perhaps you feel like you've finally found your soulmate, and things seem magical being near them. The truth is, you need to feel these things in the absence of others, so if you don't already feel that way about yourself, the person most likely has similar problems, challenges, or unresolved issues. They are the mirror reflection of yourself turning back towards you.


I have encountered another type of person who proved more difficult to navigate. While some people may reflect back on you, this kind of person is simply a void. They are good at hiding their true self. They learn to adapt by counter-mirroring your traits in order to earn a place in your life. They do not have authentically formed qualities of their own. They will take more than they are willing to give, and will only stay until you are depleted, or you push back, question, self-preserve, or set boundaries with them...then they will move on. They generally can’t answer questions about what they value, their goals, or what they want out of life. They will make excuses for problems in their past, and likely have no real long-term friendships. They will tell you what you want to hear, or repeat your point of view in order to seem similar. The only way to regain a clear picture of yourself with someone like this in your life is to eliminate them, as hard as it may be.


The only true and accurate mirror is the one within you. For better, or for worse, if you take the time to reflect, you will see everything clearly.


I have spent the past year taking a long hard look in the mirror. I knew parts of me were shattered. Loss and grief had impacted my self-image, and I was looking at my own fragmented reflection in a broken mirror. Even though I had once known myself completely, difficult circumstances had changed me. I worked hard to pick up the pieces and put myself together again. I set out to find answers that only exist inside me. I once again love, accept, know and completely trust the person I see in the mirror.

It is not tragic that someone can’t hug you back together. Navigating life is hard, but if you learn to fix your own broken pieces, so you can see your true self in your in-tact mirror, nobody can take that away from you.





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