There’s that familiar phrase when people study a child’s face. “Oh look. He has his father’s eyes.” It’s the proud marker of relationship, the expression of lineage, of continuity between the generations. “She looks just like her mother, but she has her father’s eyes.” Harry Potter looked like his father, but he had his mother’s eyes.
Like Harry, my eyes are green.
If the topic comes up, I tell people that everyone in my family had brown eyes. That’s not quite true. My mother’s eyes were brown. And my sisters’. My father’s eyes were green. I have my father’s eyes. And he – I can’t write what he did. That’s not a literary device. I cannot write it.
When I was old enough to know that it was messed up and wrong, I thought that I should hate him. Wasn’t that the correct response? But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t. Just like I could never love him. He was broken, and so incredibly sad. All I could feel was revulsion, and pity. When I saw his eyes, his pain bit so deeply through me that I would fold in on myself, even as I tried to avoid him.
When I was young, I could look in the mirror. It was only the colour that was the same. Now I am in the decade of life that he was when those things took place. I hate the mirror. The eyes that look back are tired, and sad. His eyes look back at me from my face.
My husband asks why I wear makeup. “You look so pretty without it!” I cannot explain it to him. I want to mark my eyes as my own. I want to change them. I never wanted to see those eyes looking at me again. But there they are every night when I wash my face. I will never, never escape.
photos by the author
Well, I have my mother’s eyes. And hair colour. And lots of her facial features. Can’t help any of that.
What I’m trying to avoid is her narcicism, her physical and emotional child abuse and her alcoholism. So, yeah, turning into my mother is literally my worst fear.