Why do we see something strange when we stare at ourselves in a mirror?

CreepyPramcreepy pram

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 “The face you give the world tells the world how to treat you.”
― Gillian Flynn

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Who are you?

How do you answer a question like that?

How do you define yourself, explain your being, capture your identity… for yourself, for others?

What’s your synopsis for yourself?

Now, most of us have pat answers we give to that question – Who are you?

We’re prepared for this question. It’s a common question for humans, which others ask of us, which we ask of ourselves, which we ask of others, and others ask of themselves.

We have practised answers, and we may have a different answer for different people and diverse situations.

But all of us are fairly aware of the fact that who we are is a moveable feast. A cornucopia… but not everyone wants to taste all of us, they just want the part of us which they’re asking for, which tastes good to them for this reason or that… or something like that.

A prospective employer (or a date or a friend, a potential partner of some sort, in love, friendship or business and such) does not necessarily want to know everything about you, they just want to know you’ll be a valuable asset to their own Who Are They? They want to know who you are with regards to who they are. Does your identity fit well with theirs? Does your you support their them?

If they’re into one thing and not the other – ie. into science but not philosophy, into supposed facts but not fiction or the abstract side of facts – then they’ll want an answer from you which reflects their own proclivities…

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creep_by_moonvoodoo-d6axvbr

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This morning, the second time in the short span of a week, I was woken up by Jehovah’s Witnesses ringing my doorbell.

This happened when I first moved into this place, but hasn’t happened since then… so I thought the local chapter had put my address down as ‘unsaveable, so don’t bother’. Which was a relief – I really don’t want others trying to save me as part of them saving themselves, the intention behind their motives to help me seems a bit… questionable.

The first recent visit ended with the two fairly young male JW’s accepting my – Thank you, but no thank you – and not arguing with me about it. They looked a bit frightened by just woken up me who greeted them. Which was nice.

The second recent visit, this morning, as soon as I said – Thank you, but no thank you –  the rumblings of an argument began because this JW was older than the previous ones, and me, therefore… checked out my exposed legs as though they were rather more interesting than my face (the guy was lucky or unlucky that I was dressed at all)… felt that I didn’t know what I was saying, thinking, feeling, believing because he knew better. He asked me if I’d read the bible, which I nipped in the bud with – I don’t discuss this kind of thing with others. Which scared him off… or maybe he saw the cloven hoof slippers on my feet (I wasn’t wearing slippers…).

What I wanted to say was – Dude, I don’t know who you are so I wouldn’t tell you if I’d read Bridget Jones’ Diary.

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“Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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I should probably mention at this point that even if I know you, love you, trust you… don’t wake me up, especially if I’ve worked through the night and have only had an hour or two of sleep. Sleep is my precious, and if you wake me up, I may look and behave as though I’ve barely escaped Mordor and am still trying to escape it. My eyes may be crossed and seem like one, that of Sauron.

I’m also on my period… no, you really didn’t need to know that, it’s TMI, but I’m on that horse, riding it like Lady Godiva on steroids… still want to save me?

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Dissolving by MoonVooDoo

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Sometimes when I get woken up, especially by the doorbell, and forced to socialise, especially with strangers… afterwards I look in the mirror to see wtf random doorbell ringers were forced to face. It sometimes scares me too, other times it makes me laugh – I’m not pretty in the mornings, and not particularly pleasing even when I make an effort to be that way (my partner told me that this is BS… and asked that I include his objection to my view of myself in this post… he’s very sweet and deluded).

Do you ever look in the mirror and… think you’ve seen a ghost… of who-knows-what?

Are you the person you see reflected in a mirror?

Okay, I admit, that’s a trick question because who we see when we look in the mirror is elusive. That person, and what we see, can change in the blink of an eye, a shift in mood, a variation of thought which alters our perspective… or the mirror is flawed, ’cause mirrors have issues too.

And what we see is still only the physical, our view of the physical, even when we see beyond that… there is just so much to each and every one of us that eyes can’t perceive.

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CreepingMist by MoonVooDoo

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The title of this post comes from a search term which led someone to my blog, and which stood out because it was intriguing…

Why do we see something strange when we stare at ourselves in a mirror?

Strangely enough… what I see in the mirror when I look in it, which these days is less often than I used to… is a friend, a very old friend of mine who was there for me when I had no one else… someone who looked at me and saw me rather than what they needed to see in me, what they wanted me to reflect for them… and so on… those times between me and the mirror… were the only times I didn’t feel strange.

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“There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson

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What about you?

What do you think?

What do you feel?

Who are you?

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8 thoughts on “Why do we see something strange when we stare at ourselves in a mirror?

  1. Hahaha. 🙂 Great job with the JWs and so very, very true.

    I once saw myself on a video and didn’t recognize myself until several seconds in. The video showed me from behind and at a distance, but still, it was a peculiar feeling. So not recognizing myself in a mirror? A good possibility! 🙂

    I enjoyed reading the commentary between you and Hippie Girl.

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      The JW’s… kind of sweetly naive to think they could save others when most of them start off their ‘saving’ speech by telling you that the end of the world is nigh.

      I saw a very twisted comic recently about a little girl who tells her mother that she dreamed everyone in the world had died due to an apocalypse… her mother reacts by telling her child – Oh, what a nightmare! The child pauses…. does a bit of a double take…. and then agrees very carefully that it was a nightmare (in other words she agreed but didn’t agree… she just told her mother what her mother wanted to hear). Made me chuckle 😉

      Have you ever seen a photo of yourself and someone else had to point out that it was you? Sometimes… it’s funny being ourselves and not recognising ourselves when we think we know ourselves so well!

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  2. I like this, it’s philosophical, interesting that you mention the word ‘philosophy’ in it. Initially, my reaction was a backlash (as it usually is) to the concept of only wanting to know certain aspects of someone and not know everything. My reasoning for this was because if everyone has flaws, you would need to know them in order to know the person fully, and you would need to know the person fully in order to assess whether or not you like them or if they fit with you and they the same with you for the same reasons. For instance, with a significant other, I think (though I realize this is not true at all for many couples) that you should know the nuances of them, their character, personality, thought process because if you ignore these things…well, that’s how divorces come into play, not that knowing as much as you can is a foolproof system to eliminate that. I don’t think I’ve ever really looked at anyone and decided that I liked them or didn’t because of any value they could provide to me, I either felt like we ‘clicked’ on some level or we didn’t. I do, however, do the opposite and try to shy away from people if I feel I have no value to them.

    Then I thought, why the backlash? In terms of an intimate relationship, it makes sense, but not with everyone you meet. I’ve gone through periods of both ends of the spectrum, times where I didn’t want anyone to know anything about me, what I was doing, or my thoughts, then I noticed that certain people would go through my things, talk to others about me and deny hearing any information, so I rebelled. I told every ridiculous detail, no matter how personal or embarrassing, to everyone, everywhere. Now I still mostly don’t want anyone to know anything about me. I don’t like when what I think or say is used against me, so then it seems best to say nothing at all. There are many things that I’ve known about others for a really long time, and it is knowledge I wish I never had and would love to wipe from my neuro-database. As with everything in life, there must be a balance and it’s always dependent on the circumstances and variables.

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    1. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      I agree about finding a balance, and I think one of the ways it can be found is through experiencing all sides of an equation. The more we do ourselves, the more we can understand what others are doing. By not wanting other people to know anything about you, this allows you to understand it when other people have that approach, so if you’re with someone who is being secretive, shying away from revealing themselves, and doesn’t want to let you get to know them, you have an internal perspective of being that way and are more likely to be accepting of them as they are, not try to pry, yet at the same time you can see inside without trespassing because of your own experience of being that way. That brings a certain balance. Just as if you’re with someone who tells you everything about themselves, you can understand why they might be doing that, maybe they too have had an experience which made them decide to rebel and reveal everything. I think most people know what it is like to have something they said used against them, to have someone go around gossiping about them, spreading rumours, and things like that.

      We’re all very different from each other, yet we share many similarities. The similarities help to give us an immediate connection, the differences make us take our time to get to know others.

      Getting to know others is as slow a process as getting to know ourselves. And there is always something new to discover because even when we know ourselves well, know others well, we may not know ourselves or others in every situation and under all circumstances. It is definitely dependent on circumstances and variables. We may know who we are or who others are when in our comfort zones, but do we know who we will be or who they will be when thrown into a situation which we or they have never been in before.

      Intimate relationships are particularly complex because self and other have a chemical reaction of sorts, and so who we are and who they are is affected by what happens when we’re together. One extreme of that is folie-a-deux, Bonnie and Clyde. Of course there is the other side of that, the teaming up which is creative and inspiring, Pierre and Marie Curie.

      Something which stood out for me in your comment is when you said that you tend to shy away from people when you feel you have no value for them. By not having value for them do you mean that they are disrespectful towards you, that they treat you as though you’re worthless to them or do you mean that you don’t feel you have anything to offer them and are not sure why they’re interested in you?

      I was made aware of the whole value issue in relationships by growing up with narcissists. My parents were obsessed with the value issue, from many diverse angles, and it was a major lesson in my life. It was impossible to escape from being made aware of this interaction dynamic. Narcissists are always scanning people for potential value, as valuable assets, and they assume that others do the same thing with them. They’re study how to make themselves of value to others, which is partly why they ‘lovebomb’, they offer a valuable service, cater to the ego of others, feed the ego of others delicious treats, then when someone is hooked, they withhold the service and only give delicious treats if they get what they want.

      Growing up with narcissists made me rather cynical about the motivations and intentions of others. For instance, with the JW’s who recently knocked on my door, what I saw were people who didn’t look at me as a person and did not treat me like one either – not one of them considered my side of the door. If I knock on a stranger’s door I tend to consider how they feel about me (a stranger to them) knocking on their door, and I am conscious that I’m imposing my presence on them, may have interrupted them, may be bothering them, that by knocking on their door I’m asking a favour of them. They were too focused on their side of the door, what they were doing and what they wanted. They saw me as an object of value for themselves which would help them achieve an objective, but of course they told themselves that they were offering me the chance of a lifetime, and that they were doing me a favour by knocking on my door, not that I was doing them a favour by answering their knock. My value to them was dependent upon whether I reacted in a way to suit them, if I was not who they needed me to be for them then I would be discarded as an object of no value.

      Yeesh… I know how cynical that is. I’ve tried ignoring my training from the school of narc, but narc’s also taught me that being naive is how you end up getting used, abused, then throw away once you serve no purpose.

      I’m still trying to find that copacetic point on the seesaw. 🙂

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      1. Everyone has a cynical side, you almost kind of need to. Anyway, I have been told that I am useless by more than one person on more than one occasion, although they were not necessarily wrong, I’m in a bit of a denial about hearing that sort of thing, so I do my best to eliminate those people from my life entirely. What I meant by not having value is a bit reflective of the useless trait. All relationships, friendships, anyships should have an equal contribution, or as close to one as humanly possible. The narcissist in me tends to ask for help from people I’d much rather not have anything to do with when I’m in a tight spot after exhausting any other efforts I can think of because chances are, they will help financially (always repercussions for that though), so I portray myself as a “user who gets by using other people’s resources”. Whether it’s family, government aid, school assistance, etc. I can’t stand that, I prefer to work and pay my way through life just like everyone else, especially when it comes to sucking up to people that make me feel like lighting myself on fire would be a better option, so in the real world, away from family (because there are completely different reasons to want to avoid them), if I feel like my associating with someone would be more beneficial for me than for them, I tend to shy away from them. I’ll talk to them on whatever level I need to for the situation, but I try not to go beyond that. I’m not in a position to contribute much of anything to anyone and I don’t need more people thinking I’m trying to use them for something, nor do I want to feel like I am either.

        Moving on, your descriptions of the Jehovah’s Witnesses crack me up! They are salesman like any other, whether for monetary gain or to get more numbers in their organization, they are still door-to-door salesmen. My experience with them has been extremely limited. The only JW that I recall knowing was a girl from grade school. She was super quiet, conservative, and unbelievably smart. I always felt bad for her because she was not allowed to participate in ANY celebrations because of her religion. She couldn’t accept anything because of it either, no candy on Halloween, cupcakes on birthdays, cards for Valentine’s Day, she told me that she didn’t even celebrate her own birthday. I always thought it was a sad way to live life and I guess I tried to become a little salesman myself trying to convince her to take things because I wanted “her to have them” and “not to think of it as a gift just a friend being a friend.” Eventually most of our class ‘parties’ would take place in the late afternoon and she would just go home early. I really have no other experiences with them other than her, at least not to my knowledge, but I’ve never been too fond of them for that reason. To each their own I suppose, but I thought, and still think, that it’s wrong to deprive a child of childhood things if you have an option to let them experience it, but that’s a whole other long rant. An option for you would be to invest in the Necronomicon or satanic bible just to answer the door with it in hand the next time they come along, of course I suppose that could backfire and they’d truly want to save you, but I think they’d simply stop coming by. Anyway, hope all is well with the move and all the boxes are unpacked 😉

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        1. Thank you for sharing 🙂

          I haven’t moved yet (that’s still in the process of being made into a reality and that reality could still fall through), I’m where I’ve been for a while which is why I was a bit perplexed by the visits of the recent JW’s. They did this ritual when I first moved into this place and we all agreed, or so I thought, that the local JW chapter would not bother with trying to save those at this address as it didn’t work for either side of the equation.

          I’m not one to play games with people, that only causes more trouble than it is worth, so I opt for – this is me, deal with it or don’t, but don’t make me deal with it if you can’t, won’t and don’t and think I should help you not deal with it.

          I see them as people, humans like me, if they can’t see me as a person, as humans like them, that’s their problem not mine. I realise we’re all humans dealing with being human differently. That’s okay with me as long as they don’t expect me to do things their way. I’m not making their problem mine, just as I don’t want to make my problems theirs.

          I did once live on a street which also housed a local JW chapter that used my street as a training ground… and while I lived in that area I was once semi-circled by three JW ladies who thought it was okay to do that while I was taking a break from life on a park bench. I’ll never forget their beady eyes. Reminded me of my mother’s eyes.

          I’m used to dealing with people who want me to be who they want me to be for them so that they can be who they want to be – it’s getting kind of boring and old.

          Anyways…

          You do realise that people who tell you that you’re ‘useless’ find you anything but ‘useless’. You’re providing a very useful service, and have immense value to them in your status of being ‘useless’ to them. You have the power in this dynamic because they’re using you to make themselves feel rather valuable and useful. Take yourself out of the equation and… they’ll need to find someone else who is ‘useless’ to make themselves feel valuable and useful.

          When you study human nature and human interactions… everything isn’t as it seems or as people try to make it seem for their own reasons.

          From what I know of you, and I realise this may be perceptual misperception, you’re an awesome force of nature within a human being. Make sure that you aren’t the one telling yourself you’re ‘useless’ because others have told you that. You’re anything but useless… remind yourself of that. Be gentle with yourself. Honour what you’ve been through.

          All human to human, soul to soul, interactions have a value element to them, but it’s different in each case. Sometimes the greatest value you have and bring to your relationships is just being yourself as is – as this allows others to do the same. When we are who we are, whoever we may be… it allows others to do that too, and that is very precious to all of us.

          When someone allows me to fart in their presence, when I feel able to do that and they feel able to do that with me – we have reached a copacetic understanding of being human between us, and it’s okay to be human with those humans. I tend to use things like farts. and other things which some humans can’t deal with even though they are natural, as a gauge for realness. As I see it – you as you are as is, that is what is of value about you to me because with you I can be me as is, and that is of value to me. Or something like that. Can’t really explain it, just have to live it.

          When you are of value to yourself… then you are of value. And others can… either get with the program or not. Something like that, not quite as aggressive as that.

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          1. I didn’t mean you should play games, although I suppose it does sound a bit that way. I’ve studied different religions throughout life a bit, and although controversial, I think satanism, atheism, and witchcraft fall under the religious categories. I have not read the Necromonicon but I have touched on the satanic bible a bit, mostly because it just sort of ended up in front of me, it’s interesting. If the JW’s saw it in your hand or on a coffee table, I think they would have a negative reaction. I always find that sort of thing funny because religions tend to teach acceptance, love, forgiveness and the like, yet when it comes to others choosing to believe in something different than their particular religion, especially something as off the beaten path that it can be considered cultism rather than religion, their tolerance goes right out the door. This is understood if they’re out sacrificing kittens, but if they’re reading books other than bibles and still walking around like “normal” people, I don’t see what the difference is.

            Of course, if you were referring to the “using others resources” comment I made, I can understand how that sounds like game playing as well, but that’s a bit more complicated. I love that you have a “take me as I am or leave” attitude, because unfortunately, if they are going door to door trying to get you and others to convert to their way of life, they are playing games to draw you in. I understand others wanting you to be who they want you to be and it does get old and boring, but it’s also difficult to break away from that.

            I also feel I should clarify, that when I said ‘value’ I didn’t necessarily mean monetary value, although my example was exactly that. I meant values and contributions in any way. If im talking your ear off and you know way more about me than I know about you, there’s not an equal contribution, if you’re insanely more intelligent or worldly than I am, there’s no equal value there either. That said I don’t know that I can contribute to anyone’s happiness or quality of life either, so I suppose that is what I meant by value.

            As for the being useful by being useless aspect, I suppose that’s true, especially taking into consideration the people who have said it, but it also depends on your perspective. If they are working and therefore contributing to society, and I am not, then in that respect I suppose I am useless in comparison. If they make more than me, work more hours, hold more important jobs, then they are always more useful than me. My son watches Thomas the Train on occasion and the premise of that show always bothered me. They push the idea down children’s throats that if they are not doing their job they are useless. There was even an episode where one train tried out the jobs of other trains because he didn’t like what he was doing and he was told that he was not being “a very useful engine” because he was not doing the job set out for him. I think that’s a crappy concept to portray since the show is geared toward preschool and early school age children. Based on this, if my usefulness on the grand scheme of things is measured on how well I follow orders and pump money into the system to make others rich by buying junk I don’t need because some company with awesome marketing and advertisements told me I need their product in my life, then I gladly don the label useless. I don’t think the world should live to work and die, that’s not living, it’s surviving and living to make others’ lives better, not your own.

            I agree, that people are people and should each do their own thing and be themselves. I don’t necessarily think that your problems aren’t others’ problems and their problems aren’t yours, well I agree to an extent, that’s difficult for me to put into words. I think people should help others as much as they are willing to, but it shouldn’t be crammed down their throats.

            About your move, I thought I read in another post that you were going through and unpacking boxes. I must’ve read that wrong. Anyway, best of luck with the JW’s, sounds like you piqued their interest again, it’s never easily to shake those over zealous holy roller types. 😉 Thanks for all the blogs, they’re great to read. They constantly remind me that I need to expand my vocabulary, it makes the writings more interesting to read.

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            1. I know you weren’t telling me to play games, at no point did I think that’s what you were doing, you were giving me some suggestions, offering some assistance, advice, and the benefit of your own experience. You were giving me support and a helping cyber hand. I appreciate it and value your input.

              The game playing thing is just where I went with it, that was all on me. When I am enjoying a conversation, stimulated by an interaction, especially with someone I respect, my mind has sparks flying in it, and I make associations, am inspired, go off on tangents… and tend to sometimes sound aggressive, forceful, and argumentative… very Mars in Scorpio in the 3rd aspecting my Moon and Mercury (emotions and mind).

              When I get passionate I sometimes seem as though I’m angry – I’m not. I’m just really into what we’re discussing. I’m animated. If I was actually angry I would be stone cold and dead.

              Any argumentativeness is due mostly to me arguing with myself, caused by internal associations and tangents. Although I do love a good and meaty debate.

              Some of the things you’ve said about your experience stir in me memories of my own experience.

              For the largest part of my life I’ve felt like a non-person. Useless, without value, not contributing, not worth living, pointless, a parasite who was using up the air on the planet which someone else would use better than me, someone who had a life they didn’t deserve – someone else could do better than me with that life force.

              When you feel like that, you end up considering ending your life, you’re useless so why bother being here, your life is pointless and no one (including you) appreciates it so why not end the suffering and pointlessness, but rather than bringing solace that idea/solution/ending of suffering just makes things worse because there is always someone somewhere who is dying from some awful disease, someone somewhere who is better than you, who deserves to live more than you, and here you are, ‘healthy’, living, thinking of throwing away your life when someone else would kill to live, and wouldn’t take for granted, as much as they think you are doing, their life.

              I had many long moments of wishing that I could transfer my life force to someone else, switch places with them – I would die in their place and they would live in mine – because they deserved life more than I did, they were a better person than I would ever be.

              A lot of this impression came courtesy of growing up with narcissists who never ever let you forget how useless you are in every effing way, and you have to be grateful to them for giving you life and letting you live, they own your existence, and every day in every way they let you know that your life is a burden, a pointless existence which only has meaning if they allow it to have meaning, and they can rip that away from you the moment you question them.

              It doesn’t get much better once you make it out from the narcissists’ version of reality into society, because society is always judging you and your worth. Society is sometimes made up of people who gauge their worth by comparison with others – that is sometimes achieved by creating parameters which lift them up and shove you down into a muddy shit. For them to be better than you, they need you to be worse than them, and they sometimes make it so using games people play.

              Two books I would recommend reading:

              The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene – it’s an intriguing read and it references many other books and theories about the human obsession with power and other human psychology things.

              Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky – It’s a collection of transcripts form talks he’s given. Very insightful into the structure of hierarchical systems, and society, government, and such.

              The 1% need the other 99% so they can be the 1%. For one to exist it needs the other to exist and may create one to create the other. And those who see themselves as being of value, financial, and otherwise, need the rest of us less valuable people to agree with them, and to fight each other over whether we are of value or not, and to ascertain our own level of value based on criteria set up by… who exactly?

              One of the first financially prosperous things that humans did, when being financially prosperous became a thing for humans, was to sell other humans hierarchy based on accessories – accessories which could be bought at a price and which would make certain humans better than others, especially those selling those accessories to others. Some accessories are abstract concepts made manifest because humans often do that kind of stuff.

              I did try to read the Necronomicon – deliberately. I went in search of it to read it, the same way I do with many other philosophies and human writing about beliefs, theories, etc. I like to read as much as I can about everything – I forget most of it because my mind is a sieve, I’m intellectually challenged (or whatever you’re supposed to call being stupid in these days of ‘political correctness), I have dyslexia (whateverTF that is), and I’m a very messy human.

              The only thing I’ve learned, and that is questionable in so many ways, is – none of us know anything but often think we know everything, we get all rigid about what we’ve decided we know and them bash others with our rigid head hammers, we’re all confused, looking for meaning, have no idea why we’re alive, why humans exist, so we make stuff up and make it real, turn it into facts and then turn those facts into all sorts of candy, which is sometimes nutritious and sometimes poisonous (we’re not sure which is which – just look at the ‘healthy’ eating theories, one minute a food is beneficial and prone to causing miracles of physical health, the next minute it’s going to kill us and all data is incorrect).

              A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is a good read too. If only for a good laugh at being human.

              Your take on Thomas the Train – brilliant! Apply that to everything! I’ve never seen it but it sounds like a – Join us – campaign for children. Get them programmed early.

              From what I know of you, which I know is just touching the surface, and is mostly my impression of you based on our online chats, and your chats with other commenters on my blog, is – you’re a very intelligent, deeply thoughtful, and rather awesome person who thinks and feels for themselves. You have an independent spirit – that is priceless. So. Don’t base your value on the value systems of others, however you interpret the concept of ‘value’. Value systems are created by humans – you’re a human so you know the ins and outs of all things human.

              I’m passionate about that because… that shit has caused me all sorts of human mess.

              ps. Most of my stuff is always in boxes because I have never felt safe enough to unpack, I’m never settled anywhere or with anyone even when I’m almost that way… but sometimes I unpack a box because I can’t remember what’s in it or something like that. Human stuff…

              I know you say you’re wary of sharing yourself, I get that, me too… even though I blog I sometimes talk in riddles and share things without sharing things… I know this will sound… however it sounds… I love your comments because you tell it like you see it. That to me is priceless and very valuable (I interpret value as something way beyond finance. Money used to be shells… now it’s paper… often it’s just virtual numbers on virtual paper.

              TY for being real in an unreal world.

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