~ Selah Janel

It’s silly, but it works, trust me. I’ve been right where you are now. I know your feelings, the churning of your inner, conflicted thoughts. I know all about anxiety in this strange, crazy world. That feeling that everything is new and overwhelming, that you’re not in control? I’ve had it, I’ve battled with it, I’ve nearly been drowned by it. It’s something you can overcome. I’ll gladly help you do it. After all, your goals are my goals in this unfamiliar place.

Breathe. Start there. Just breathe. Eyes closed, in and out. Lungs filled. Lungs compressed. Good. Set a slow, easy rhythm, get used to the feel of things, the feel of your organs, the feel of movement and momentum. Experience it. Revel in it. After all, baby steps lead to bigger steps. Very good.

Now, open those eyes and look in the mirror. Keep breathing: slow, smooth, steady. Keep feeling your innards, for they are part of you now. It’s not easy to make eye contact, to see all those nerves, that desperation trapped in blown pupils. I get it. Still, don’t panic. Focus on your breath and the feeling of your insides. You are capable. You can do this. You’ve got this.

Remember your mantras, the ones you’re embarrassed to say. No one will hear you but the one who needs to hear those words most. Let go of all those worries and expectations. Square your shoulders, straighten your posture, and look right into that glass. Hold it firmly if it’s a hand mirror, hang onto the counter or table if it’s on the wall. Ground yourself. Keep breathing.

Remember, this is for you.

In and out. Breathe deep. Stand tall. Feel every bit of yourself from the inside out. Maintain eye contact or else none of this will work. Say your words. Affirm to yourself what you already know.


Today is going to be amazing

I will live today to its fullest.

I am confident in my abilities.


Does the face in the mirror still look worried? Are the eyes still troubled?

Keep going.


I deserve the life I want.

I’m confident in my abilities.

There are no limitations I cannot overcome.

I will have the life I want.

I have the power to take control and have the life I want.

I will have your life, because I want your life, and I will get the things I want.

I deserve them. Not you.

At this point, if the face in the mirror reacts, let it. Do not be fooled. You will not get what you’re after if you stop now.


Today I will use this gift to be a better person than you.

That’s how you were tricked, after all.

You deserve to stay on that side of the mirror.

I deserve all the opportunity and possibility your life has to offer.

No one will ever know since we share the same face and the only limits are in my mind.

I shall live my life to the fullest and you shall stay trapped in the void, your existence at the mercy of my comings and goings, your entire life dependent on my actions.

You shall stay there and hope I don’t cover or smash the mirrors that are mine now.

All mine.

Because I am worthy and I deserve it.


Is the face in the mirror terrified, panicked, face contorted? Are matching hands pounding the glass while the face is silently screaming, perhaps? Good. Take another deep, deep breath. Close your eyes and cleanse the moment. Raise your hand—but don’t touch the glass until you seal the spell.

Now you can murmur those words. Your secret mantra, the one I don’t have to remind you of because it’s too precious to ever write down. The words that were gifted to you in that reflective, other realm long ago, that place you were trapped in for far too long. Say them loud and long.

Deep breath.


Open your eyes. Smile at the screaming face. It will tread the line and obey you soon enough. Brush your teeth. Wash up if you need to. Pamper yourself with a sheet mask or cosmetics—just frame the face (lashes, brows, lips) if you don’t have much time. Shave if you like, add some cologne or perfume. Whatever you feel like, that is your right answer now. Whatever will give you a boost to start your new life and a new day in this strange, sometimes overwhelming world.

Freedom can feel that way sometimes, but remember: you deserve it.

Eight of Swords


Selah Janel has written many e-books, including Mooner, The Ruins of St. Louis, The Inheritance, and Candles. Her work has appeared in anthologies including The Grotesquerie and The Big Bad volumes 1 & 2, as well as publications such as Electric Spec and Siren’s Call. An unrepentant theater geek, she worked for over twenty years in theater and entertainment building and designing costumes in regional theater, holiday events, amusement parks, and haunted events.

Keep up with her and her work at,, or @SelahJanel on Twitter.

 [ issue 1 : winter 2021 ]