Hall of Mirrors

The Man Behind the Mask

I am becoming quite ill by all the inanity floating around. It’s like the more proliferate that social media gets, the lower the collective IQ becomes. Everything is devolving into a popularlity contest and bullies are taking over because they are the loudest, most obnoxious voices.

It’s like High School all over.

heh. I say that, but that wasn’t my High School experience. I was the nerd who read all the time. Walked down the hallways, nose in a book. Carefully tuning out all the crap, biding my time until I could leave.

Now I have to laugh. Is this why I’m reading so much again now? Because the amount of crap floating around is just beyond my ability to tolerate, so I have to tune it out with a fantasy world? Sounds about right.

But I was moved to make a post here after over a year of silence because I’m revisiting the Hall of Mirrors. There’s all this anti-gun rhetoric, and now all this anti-Confederate Flag rhetoric. As a Southern, that stupid flag is near and dear to my heart … and it does not in any way mean racisim to me. To me, it’s a symbol that says “no matter what the Northern aggressors tried to do to us, we survived.” It’s an F-U which declares “I am not dead, so take that you fuckers”. Can you hear the Civil War themes still echoing in that sentiment? They caught me by surprise, that’s for sure. It made me realize that these issues are far from dead, culturally speaking. Glossed over, ignored, shoved into the shadow to simmer in a silent rage which has gone unaddressed or acknowledged. It’s a complex cultural wound, with many facets. Robert Ohotto, one of the very few intuitive coaches I still listen to, talks about psychic DNA and how we inherit the unaddressed stuff from our parents. Our grandparents. Our great-grandparents. From our culture. Our religion. Our gender.

And the above was a Hall of Mirrors moment for me. When I sat down and looked at the emotional response that was raging to the surface as idiots demanded that the South once again lay down under someone’s boot … Wow. That’s … Not mine. I wasn’t there. It was over 150 years ago. And yet it rages, absolutely RAGES now that the surface was scratched. All wounded pride. Surely … Noooo… *wince* No wonder the people who do not want to surrender the Flag are so passionate. Do they know why? Healing will never happen until the source is recognized. Until then, it’s a distorted and unrecognizable reflection.

And if I can feel the echoes which I grew up marinating in, what else is there? Fortunately, by this point, I have some experience dealing with inhereted crap which isn’t mine. I’m learning to recognize it, be with it, and let it flush from my system. This latest one with the Southern pride is new. I’m still working my way through it. But my first brush with the idea and reality of inherited attitudes struck much closer to home. I’ll share this with you as an illustration of the journey, and that it’s OK to be with the experience of it, to feel it. Hiding gains nothing.

Now I love my mother and grandmother, but my grandmother had a seriously unhealthy relationship with the idea of what consistuted being worthy of love. Namely, illness requires that everybody drop everything and pay total attention to the ailing individual. That being sickly is what earns love and inspired other to care for me.

Egad. What a terrible concept! I denied it being in me. Vehemently. Until my husband looked at me one day and a bit exasperated said “you sure are sickly.” Emotionally, that was a massive slap across the face. *crack* I was appalled that he would say that, blustering “I’m not sickly” while at the same time feeling utterly betrayed. It was the feeling of betrayal that caught my attention. “If this idea is so not true for me, then why do I feel betrayed?” I noticed the incongruency.

In moments like this, a body has some choices to make. I had some choices to make. I could deny the whole thing, label him as an unfeeling jerk and huff on about my life. Would that actually address the problem? Would that truly live up to my ideal of having the courage to look into the Hall of Mirrors and challenge those reflections to show me the Truth? No. Denial will never lead to truth.


So I sat down and told these feelings “alright, out with you. What is this? Where are you coming from? How do you think you’re trying to help me?” This is a secret I’ve learned. Usually, what is often judged to be a ‘destructive pattern’ is actually a mal-adapted attempt to help me get what I think I want. By framing my request in the way that I did, I’m attempting to remove judgement and actual listen for the answer. In response to these questions, I began to get a serial by-play of small moments over the course of my life. Nothing direct. No one EVER said “honey, to inspire a man to care for and love you then you have to be sickly and weak.” But they DID say “wow, look at how devoted and wonderful Uncle XY is for taking care of Aunt XX in her wheelchair.” They DID say “I’m the sick one, you have to take care of me.” They DID say “ooooh, you’re sick, you just sit right there and I’ll do everything for you.” Now in moderation, this is fine. Wonderful even! Who doesn’t appreciate being pampered a bit when the rare and occasional illness strikes me low? But when I saw my grandmother conveniently ‘falling’ every single time just before my parents left town for a weekend away just to ensure that my mom had to take care of her…. Oooooh. That’s a shadow relationship.

After being open to the concept that maybe some part of me does think this, then I could see it, trace it back over 4 generations of women in my family, even see it in the cultural attitudes that expected women to be weak and frail so that aman could “be a man”. I even knew one man who would “forget” his wife’s heart medication so she’d get sicker and he could “be a man” taking care of her. Dysfunctional. The kicker? That was her take. She knew precisely what he was doing, and found it … cute. *boggles* And yet … I could feel those same ideas running around in my self, dammit. I had to begrudgingly admit it’s part of my psyche too. It’s IN there, and fuck if I don’t expect that I’ll be catered to when I’m ‘sickly’ – so I got sickly a lot. This is the part where I started to rage around, angry at myself for holding such a limiting belief. Hell, I moved literally across the country to get away from that kind of thinking and bugger me if it’s not already part of the baggage train.

I am still working to defuse this idea in me. I now go to the gym. Eat better. Regular chiropractic care. Wellness doctor visits. None of that was on my agenda before. I actively look for any language which floats around in my head that might support the idea, and then I reroute them. I know that what we think guides what is possible. Indeed, knowing this is why I get to pissed off at the PC concept. “You can’t say ‘janitor’ anymore.” Thought police much? I digress there though. *steers back to the topic* It’s an ongoing process of awareness, and will likely be so for the rest of my life. I will say, I’m in much better health and far stronger physically than I have been in … forever.

So the Hall of Mirrors invites a closer look. Demands it. And it’s so hard. It really is. It’s uncomfortable, and not fun. You’re guaranteed to see some things you don’t like. I know I did. Still do. It never ends. I said in the introduction to the Hall of Mirrors that LIFE is a Hall of Mirrors. There is no escape, there is only the ability to realize “oh, that’s a reflection of me. I recognize this one.”

Right now, we as a country are seriously rockin’ our Shadow Selves and totally partying with our old buddy Denial. The social media mob mind is railing about gun control at the moment. But nobody is asking “why now?” I want to hear the hard questions like: Is the fact that ‘discipline’ has been interpretted as ‘abuse’ have anything to do with what appears to be an utter lack of impulse control being displayed? Or: Has growing up being catered to given too much of a sense of self-importance and entitlement at the expense of empathy and concience? Nope. Those questions aren’t being bandied about. It’s easier to think “guns are the problem; get rid of guns, get rid of the violence.” This ‘by the nose’ leading has an agenda which requires that we remain the Somnambulant Public (sleep-walking masses). And we’re doing our damnest to accommodate.*rolls eyes* But it’s a naive thought. A very simplistic view and one that does nothing to address the root of the problem – seeks instead a dangerous band-aid.

Alas, it’s human nature to want to take the easy way out. To want to avoid the hard questions. How much easier to walk around in the Hall of Mirrors screaming at our reflections “you’re a bastard! you’re a racist! you’re a sexist! you’re a bully! I hate haters!” They are still just reflections. And until they are looked at seriously, all we’re doing is yelling at the person in the mirror.