This is written from the perspective of Sybil, from Flora Rheta Schreiber’s classic novel, Sybil.
When I look in the mirror, I see myself. Duh.
I don’t know why I hear lots of people addressing me as “Sybil” when I walk down the sidewalk, shop at the local Hannaford, or walk my cat. Yeah, I walk my cat.
When I look in the mirror, I see a man. With a beard. With chest hair. Wearing boxers.
Somehow, they still call me “Sybil.” And Sybil is a girl’s name.
I guess I should give you a little background, a brief personal history lesson. Got your pencils? Paper? ‘Cause we’re gonna learn.
About me, myself, and all the others.
It took a really long time, years even, for me to confront this issue. In fact, I couldn’t do it alone. My psychiatrist, Dr. Wilbur, eventually played the tapes for me. The tapes of me talking all crazy. I guess you would think I was crazy, but you don’t know my whole story. Or even part of it.
When Doctor Wilbur played back those recordings, she explained to me that the man screaming, the fourteen-year-old crying, the country girl whistling, the Peggy Ann and the Peggy Lou squabbling…these were all me.
It changes from time to time, who I am, or who I think I am. My voice changes. My facial expressions change. My eyes get big or my eyes get small. Even my gesticulations change. Just ask Sally Field! (Check out the 1976 classic film, Sybil.)
This issue used to overwhelm me. It defeated me. I had a normal job. I went to a normal school. But then things became too difficult.
But after many sessions with Doctor Wilbur and many personal aggravations–and by this I mean lots of time and lots of work, I rose above my diagnosis.
So, you still got your paper? Still got the pencils? ‘Cause this is what I want you to remember. Maybe write this in pen:
Thanks to a supportive doctor and my own true grit, I have overcome my difficulties.
Now when I look in the mirror, I do not see a man or a baby or a country star.
I see me.
I am Sybil.