A man who looks a Gorgon in the eyes is said to turn to stone. Medusa is a fitting goddess for women recovering from eating disorders, I think -- she stops the wandering eye in its path, protecting herself from anyone who would criticize her or look at her harshly.

The only problem is that Gorgons can turn the same harsh gaze upon themselves. Though I prefer not to think of it, because I like Medusa too much, I can’t forget that she conquered with a mirror in the end. Perseus held one up to her and, looking at her own reflection, Medusa turned to stone, not unlike the bronze statue that I came across in the Boboli Gardens in Florence.

Even frozen, there is something of the magnificent and daring in Medusa. She is a woman who stands alone, proud and wise; her vision cuts through the quick, spotting everything, revealing every secret, every flaw. I think of her as a goddess who won’t take any crap from anyone. She is honest -- honest unto death.

Studies have shown that people with depression don’t necessarily have distorted thoughts -- it’s just that they can’t maintain the usual rose-colored glasses that most of us carry around to convince ourselves that things really aren’t that bad. We prefer these small fibs to point-blank honesty; we’d rather believe that the glass is half-full than admit that there are only a few drops clinging to the bottom. People with depression often see things just as they are -- and so much honesty can hurt, like Medusa’s gaze turned upon herself.

Still, I find her image helpful, when I’m confronted by lies and confusion around me, and can’t find the way. Those are the times when I want to be able to “say it like it is” and put a sharp wall between my own thoughts and feelings and those of the people around me. I haven’t had much need for such a stance lately, but stumbling upon this image of Medusa reminded me of all that it took for me to learn to see things with my own eyes, and honor my own visions of the world and myself. Goddess, you are great.

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