I was more shocked than anyone when it began to seem as if i might be an introvert.
I was born to be in service to my mother. I have no way to know just how intentional my birth was. My educated guess is that my conception was accidental, but her decision to keep me was made consciously, and with purpose. It was her second pregnancy with no husband, and in the 60s, in her tiny and uber religious community, that was a huge deal. The first time she was sent to the US to have and surrender the child for adoption, which she did, and so even though she no longer lived with her parents, for whatever reason she went again. At their behest? Mm, doubtful. More like it was her best option, because she had nothing, and they were of some means and would pay for it. I think Grandpa had sold the ranch by then, and he and Grandma had moved to the big city. All their family and most of their friends still resided in little towns dotted around the south of the province, where 1 faith rules most, and even though my grandparents eschewed the Latter Day Saints for the United Church, everyone else they knew were adherents. I imagine the home for wayward young ladies accepted her without a blink, and besides, a non-believer is merely an opportunity for conversion, is it not?
I heard a number of stories around the adventures she had, and the events leading up to her leaving the States and me being born in another province, but i’ve been unable to find much supporting information. Yes, the home existed then (and still today). They wouldn’t confirm she’d stayed there, which is only as it should be, i was merely doing my due diligence to inquire. I have a birth certificate that confirms when and where i was born, and was able to speak to the hospital archivist, but they don’t keep records of any of the details of my birth beyond height and weight, and that it was uneventful. I don’t know if she knew the man i called “Daddy” before she conceived, but i suppose it doesn’t matter; somewhere along the way she decided that it served her to serve me up to him for his purposes. Before, during, and after her association with him, she was my 1 true god, anyway. I always knew it, and she knew that i did too, although she still reinforced it regularly.
I was adept at dissociation, and abuse was ubiquitous. It was nothing for her to pick me up from a “visit” and immediately place me in a social situation. I’m not entirely certain if i knew what had happened prior or not, but being as well acquainted with my system as i am now, i strongly suspect not. I might have been molested an hour or 2 before, but there i’d be, shining as brightly as my mother wished, for whatever audience she’d placed me in front of.*
I was always somewhat conscious of how important it was that i behave in a friendly and outgoing fashion; i must leave a favourable impression wherever i went. To do anything else my mother would see as reflecting poorly on her. Not only did she feed on the admiration of others (psychically and monetarily), it helped blind them to what was festering inside her, underneath the facade. To that end, i was her centerpiece of subterfuge. I was bubbly, animated, sweet, and yes, precocious. I spent most of my time with adults, a lot of whom were highly educated. My grandmother was a school teacher who had me reading fluently by 4yrs old. How could i not be?
By the time she and “Daddy” parted ways, my personality was set. At least, it seemed to be and that’s what i’d’ve said had you asked me. My belief now is that what i displayed was more psychological affect than personality. Some of it was me, but some of it was the mask that had been given me to wear. After a time, i forgot to take it off. No, it’s more accurate to say that i’d worn it so long i didn’t know it was a mask. I looked in the mirror and assumed what i saw was me.
It’s taken years to pry that sucker off, so i could get a gander at what lies underneath.
I first noticed something a few months back. A loved one commented, as they all seem to eventually, on my lack of desire for vengeance, or even justice, against those that harmed me. I’ve never wished death, torture, pain of any kind, on any abuser. I wanted to hit my mother one time, when i was prepubescent – and that’s the extent of it. My son brought it up the last time, and when he expressed his lack of understanding, i shrugged and said, That’s just me. That’s who i am.
I’ve been puzzling over that ever since.
I’ve been an automaton wearing a mask for most of my life, long after the danger had passed, and well into being a mother and a wife and someone’s best friend. I’ve been that way for so long that, as i’ve stated – i thought how i was, WAS me.
Then the safety of a loving relationship came and gently held my head up, as therapy held the mirror, and i saw myself. I saw my costuming. And i wanted to take it all off.
When i responded to my son that day, i got a looksee.
There was a heretofore absent surety in what i said to him.
See, i’m always questioning myself: what i think, how i feel, what i say, how i act… ALL OF IT, ALL THE TIME.
When i said, That’s just me; that’s who i am, there was no question. No obsession, no angst, no elipses. There was a period at the end. I knew what i knew.
I’ve been chewing on that, and i can see it in my recent postings. I know the sun is rising on me as a functioning human being. I know i’ve shucked my funeral clothes. I know i’m naked and new. I step from the shower and stand before the mirror, and the foggy coating covering it is fading. I’m trepidatious, but my ache to see myself is greater. My hunger to know myself is stronger. Blurred lines are sharpening, colours are intensifying, and i’m coming into view. I’m tremulous, but my feet are planted shoulder-width and i am set. To see. To know.
I’ve been joking for a few years about being a hermit. When i moved out of the big city in 2007, i remembered the comfort and peace that i’d felt as a farm girl. My home life was hell then, and school was a misery. The only safety i could find was in the endless chores and quiet beauty of farm life and livestock. The wind and the smell of grain and cow poop made me feel happy and calm. So when mania threatened to break me, i retreated to my Little Crooked House on my quiet farm at the end of a No Exit road. I realised that i shifted into automatic around people, and if i really wanted to deal with my shit, i had to remove the stimuli that triggered the reflex.
I’ve done my best work here, alone.
After that i noticed that whenever i’d go into town for socialising or to run errands, it wasn’t long before i wanted to go home. And then i began marking how quickly my energy drained when i was out and about, and how i could feel my depleted stores filling back up as soon as we turned onto our road to come home.
The entire time though, i was wondering if i was hiding. I thought maybe i might be kidding myself, that i was retreating to avoid, to ignore. I worried my behaviour was unhealthy.
Over the years i’ve tried to be a part of many different groups. I kept looking for a place where i belonged. I’d ken the group dynamic, their values and aesthetics Then i’d shrug on a new coat, and walk amongst them for a while. See if i fit the group; if the jacket fit. It never did, or at least not for very long. My chameleon colours never lasted. I’d be identified for the imposter i was and be cast out, or i’d feel claustrophobic and need to GTFO ASAP.
While standing in front of that psychic mirror recently, i saw that i was wearing a spiked leather jacket. It’s a i’m-tough-stay-away-from-me thing. I thought it was an introvert costume. I looked into the mirror, who is me of course, and i saw that i don’t need it. I’m an introvert.
That’s just me. That’s who i am.
This is not so much a process of figuring out or learning who i am.
I’ve created a safe space, and now the bits of myself that i hid away so that i might survive what i could not have otherwise, are coming out to claim their place.
They know exactly what spot at the table is theirs.
I sit at the head and wait.
The banquet will be lavish.
Love and Peace,
*I refuse to mangle the flow of a sentence to avoid ending one in a preposition. If this offends your delicate grammarly sensibilities, i do apologise. Be advised that i regularly, and in a multitude of ways, play with and pervert this language, that i think is a bit of a mutt to begin with. Heh. See what i did there?
One thought on “Me, Myself, and the Mirror”
“Over the years i’ve tried to be a part of many different groups…”
I SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO grok. *skish*
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