Last night I dreamed I was in my cousin’s childhood home in Avon Lake. In the dream, I went into the bathroom and closed both of the doors for privacy. While looking at my face in the mirror, I took a cotton ball and wiped my left cheek with cleanser. When I took the cotton away, there was no longer skin but a small circle of solid silver. In shock, I started to wipe my entire face to see what would happen. My face started to disappear and the silver set–hard and solid–over my face like a statuette. Barely able to move my lips, I called out for my Aunt Kathy to call an ambulance. When I was no longer able to speak, I woke myself up.
At first, the dream seemed to be a nightmare. But the more I thought about it, I realized it symbolized how I am changing by turning into a prize–a trophy–for myself. I place a lot of value on the people in my life and the things I own, but it’s taken me awhile to place a greater value on myself. Because let’s face it, I can be a pain in the ass. My list of flaws is long and my internal chatter likes to remind me on a regular basis. But my value to myself? That’s been a constant negotiation based on a complicated equation of achievements divided by perceived perfection multiplied by the amount of love I’ve given and received over the amount of money earned squared by a factor of intuition. And, while this little bit of psychological math might sound exhausting, I’m guessing it’s more common than most of us would like to admit.
I remember when I got my very first trophy. Our softball team came in first place. I was really proud of it, so I started a collection. I won trophies for softball, bowling, and cheerleading. I even won a best historical speech trophy for Susan B. Anthony’s address on why women should be given the right to vote. I could really drive that one home in the seventh grade. As a child, I was convinced I was collecting treasures I would pass down through the generations. But when I hit my teens, I decided they were worthless and I got rid of them.
I think I got rid of myself for a while, too. But I’m changing. The more I center myself, the more clearly I can hear my heart. I’m the big prize. I don’t need to look for it to be given to me because someone else recognized me for something I can do. It’s about who I can be. Who I already am and have always been and will continue to be whether or not I exist in this body named Marlene.