Losing Sight of the Fact that We are People

When you read a post on a blog, an article in the news, a book, a tweet, or look at the cover of a glamour magazine, browse Instagram, Facebook, watch a video, TV or a film, do you see people?

When you look in the mirror, or at a photo of yourself, do you see a person? Or are you just seeing the bits you don’t like, treating your body like a thing which needs fixing, and not seeing the soul within looking back at you with your own eyes alive with thought and feeling?

Do you think other people do that too or is it just you?

Do you feel as though you’re a person who is a people?

Are other people persons too?

“All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.”


― Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

It took me a long time to see myself as a person who is part of the collective known as people.

Does that sound strange?

Can you relate to it?

What are you thinking right now… and will you share it as is in a comment on this post, unfiltered, unedited for public approval, consumption?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to judge you for not commenting.

I’ve only just started commenting on other blogs myself even though I’ve been part of the blogging community for several years now and feel comfortable here.

I did comment a few times in the past. One of my very first comments on another blog’s post was a long rambling mess and after that… I didn’t want to do that again! The blogger was fine with it, but I wasn’t.

Since then (until now) if I commented on someone else’s post I felt the need to edit the thought I wanted to express via comment until it was a stiff and meaningless shadow of its former self. Afterwards I would worry about it, wishing I could delete it, that I hadn’t said anything… so I stopped saying anything except on my own blog in my posts and in the comments on my posts (took me a while to figure out that I needed to reply to comments on here, not leave people hanging… although I’m sure some commenters wished I had left their comment without a reply).

If I did risk sharing my thoughts as is on another blog… afterwards I would repeatedly go over and over it in my mind telling myself that I was an idiot, too weird to live in this world of people… who knew how to be proper people, proper people who could interact properly with other proper people, who knew the proper things to say and do.

That wasn’t me. But who or what was me?

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

― Albert Einstein

Then something snapped and clicked inside of me… and no, I’m not a proper person now, saying and doing things properly, but neither are other people.

I’m still the weird, strange, crazy mistake-making mess that I’ve always been, but now I realise that everyone else is that too, just in their own way (don’t worry, you’re not just like me… for a moment there you panicked, didn’t you)… and I really like being me now, and being a person who is part of the collective known as people.

[while I’m writing this there’s a tiny distressed buzzing sound coming from somewhere close. I think it’s a fly caught in a spider’s web, but I can’t locate its precise location… it’s been driving me a bit nuts, but the moment I decided to include it in the post, it went silent, it might be dead. I wonder if it’s a metaphor…!?]

Before I go any further into this post journey, I’d like to pause and pay homage to the person who inspired this ramble through the countryside of human life.

Melanie of Sparks From A Combustible Mind, read the post I wrote yesterday – Men – and shared it in her post : Man O Men…  Thank you very much, Melanie, for sharing 🙂 In her excellent post she took a tangential roam through the thoughts, feelings, and associated experiences within her which had been provoked by reading my post.

One of her shared stories reminded me of the following clip from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which is one of my favourite sketches of theirs. I saw the film when I was about 7 yrs old… it was my first introduction to world politics (I already knew about family politics, although this added to that), and it left a deep impression. Particularly the bit where the character yells: Help, Help, I’m being repressed!

Melanie asked in her post four questions. One of those is the inspiration for this post and is also the source of the title of my post.

Does our self image get so wrapped up in outward appearances, that we lose sight of the fact that we’re all PEOPLE, regardless of outward ‘markers’?

I commented on Melanie’s post and mentioned to her that I would be using her question in my post… I also mentioned that I might end up discussing narcissists.

One of the reasons I have struggled with seeing myself as a person, and being part of the collective known as people, is because my parents were narcissists.

Narcissists see themselves as special, they are not one of the people they are above the people – superior superiors, superhuman.

If you are a member of a family ruled over by a narcissist, especially if you are made from their flesh and blood, then you are not allowed to be one of the people.

You are kept isolated on Mount Olympus. Kept away from mere mortals. They are gods and you are their progeny, you must not be sullied by mere mortals.

You are not a person, you’re a thing, an object they own, an extension of them like an arm or a finger which they might use to point at someone beneath them. What you are is all about who they are, who they need for you to be for them to be who they need to be…

…which in my case meant I was the portrait of Dorian Gray hidden in a dark attic getting uglier and more horrible by the second while they remained as Dorian Gray, perfect, beautiful, powerful, with no regrets.

If there is more than one progeny, two for instance – one child will become the golden child (the good one, the hero, Icarus) while the other child becomes the scapegoat (the bad one, the villain, Pandora). These two will be pitted against each other, fighting in the arena to entertain and empower their parents.

If you think that you do not know a narcissist, have never met one or been affected by the dynamics involved… think again.

The seven deadly sins of narcissism described by psychotherapist Sandy Hotchkiss:


Shamelessness – Shame is the underlying factor in all cases of unhealthy narcissism. In a healthy person, shame is processed in a normal manner, whereas narcissists have difficulty processing this feeling in a healthy way. Narcissists also tend to inflict shame on other people, a concept referred to as projection.


Magical thinking – Narcissists tend to perceive themselves as perfect and flawless. The distorted thinking and illusion that causes narcissists to feel this way is referred to as magical thinking.


Arrogance – Arrogance and a disregard for other people’s feelings are typical characteristics of narcissism. Narcissists often have a low self esteem which they try to relieve by insulting or degrading others. This helps to re-inflate their ego when they are feeling deflated or lacking in worth.


Envy – Due to their sense of being superior to others, narcissists may feel insecure when faced with another person’s ability, which they may try to belittle by demonstrating contempt or dismissal of it.


Sense of entitlement – A sense of being perfect and superior means narcissists often expect to receive favorable treatment and for people to admire and agree with their opinions or actions. Failure to comply may be perceived as an attack on their authority and superiority. A person who flouts their authority is often considered to be a difficult or awkward person by the narcissist, who will proceed to demean them or their opinion, especially in front of others. Defiance can also trigger anger in the narcissist which is referred to as “narcissistic rage.”


Exploitation – This refers to the narcissist’s tendency to exploit others and show no regard or empathy for their emotions or interests. This often occurs when the other person is in a subservient position, where it is awkward or impossible to resist the narcissist. On some occasions, this subservience is only assumed rather than real.


Lack of boundaries – Most narcissists fail to understand their boundaries and recognise that other people are individuals rather than extensions of themselves. Those who support the self-esteem of the narcissist are expected to always do so, with the narcissist failing to recognize the independence of the other person.

Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism via News Medical Life Sciences

If you have been following the news in recent times and have been affected by one particular person who regularly manages to grab the headlines with their attention seeking antics…

For a narcissist, negative attention is more valuable than positive attention. Negative attention has more fuel to feed the seeker of attention. Negative attention is like a roast dinner with all the trimmings, rich gravy, stuffing, roast potatoes, brussels sprouts, etc. It is filling and satisfying (momentarily) for a bottomless pit of greed and need. Whereas positive attention is like eating a healthy energy bar.

… you might have noticed that they have split the big family over which they preside into a golden child faction and a scapegoat faction, and these two factions are fighting in an arena to the amusement of the great father narcissist, who is much entertained and empowered by the chaos and confusion.

He reminds me so much of my father… it’s uncanny.

One of the things which narcissists are very adept at doing is appearing glamorous to others, to their audience, to their worshipers, to the little people below Mount Olympus (don’t they look like ants from up here).

To a narcissist appearance is everything – if they look it then they are it. They love wearing the latest status symbols because that impresses them and others, and is a quick way of saying – I’m better than you, look up to me!

They are also very skilled at bewitching you with their glamour – the magic enchantment of their charm, or the spells they cast in the form of diversionary tactics.

All they have to do is make you angry and poof! you’re lost in a cloud of smoke, stumbling around in a house of mirrors.

All of which leads me to…

The Weekly Prompts’ Word Prompt: Glamorous This week’s word prompt comes with some added extras in the form of two sets of questions – one for the ladies and one for the gentlemen.

Ladies – Do you ever feel glamorous, and did you feel glamorous when you were younger?

  • Do you prefer smart or casual dress?
  • Do you make an effort with yourself when you are at home, and is it important to make an effort?
  • What about your other half does s/he make an effort?

Gentlemen – Do you think your other half is glamorous?

  • Does your other half make an effort for you?
  • Do you make an effort with yourself?
  • Do you prefer smart or casual dress?

Melanie also asked in her post –  Man O Men…  – the question: Do we as a society have a tendency to HAVE to categorize people into genders?

  

Gender symbols chart via Anunnaki Ray: All the Gender Symbols

   

SueW of Nan’s Farm, who is one half of the two genies behind Weekly Prompts, and who put together this week’s Word Prompt: Glamorous, wrote a wonderful and personal post, with beautiful photographs, in reply to the prompt: Playing the Part

Certain elements in SueW’s story reminded me of my mother, and her relationship with my father.

My father was an artist, and for a while in his career he was much sought after by society. The way he painted made women want to be his muse, many pursued him, many were very beautiful, and some succeeded in becoming a muse for a moment, for a painting or two.

My mother was an actress (she appears briefly in a 1950’s Hollywood film, so young, so innocent looking) before she married my father.

She had followed in the footsteps of the female side of her family which included a thespian (whose father was a clergyman and whose brothers were in the armed forces) who became an actress during the days when it was considered to be a job akin to being a prostitute. My mother adored this ‘Aunt’, as she was a formidable woman – that’s what and who my mother wanted to be.

  

Lillie Langtry in 1885 photograph by William Downey (not my mother’s aunt, but an example of a formidable woman, and look at the beautiful ouch of an outfit!)

  

Shortly after my parents were married my mother gave up her career aspirations and focused her attention on helping my father with his career (which included ignoring his many affairs). She worked hard to be the beautiful and powerful woman behind the successful self-made man.

My mother always dressed up, even when she was stuck on Mount Olympus wrecking her nails doing the gardening, sweating over a hot stove, scrubbing, cleaning, and fixing the generator. When she woke up in the morning, the first thing she did was to ‘put her face on‘. In other words she would apply a layer of make-up over her actual face. She did it even when she had the flu and couldn’t get out of bed.

My father eventually left my mother for a woman who was a Hippie and didn’t bother with make up or any of those ‘old fashioned’ ideas of being a woman. She wasn’t as beautiful as my mother, she didn’t help my father with his career, she didn’t bother too much with housework, but she did look after my father when he had his first stroke (she said that it happened on the very day that she’d decided to leave him for good… so she stayed and cared for him until he died over a decade later).

My mother, like many women whose husbands leave them for another woman (although technically my mother left him first because she hated being stuck on Mount Olympus), wondered what the other woman had that she didn’t and drove herself a bit mad obsessing over it (he hadn’t left her before for all those other women, women who had been far more attractive than this woman).

One of the things the other woman had was freedom, she was a free spirit who did as she pleased and treated the men in her life as lucky to have her in their life… she could leave at any moment.

My father met her while she was the mistress and muse of a married with children artist friend of his. That artist friend died suddenly from a heart attack, and my father inherited a mistress.

Nothing my mother did to try and get my father back ever worked to get him back… but I don’t think my mother really wanted my father back, what she wanted back was her youth, was all the time, the days, the years she saw as wasted on him.

If only she’d never met him, no matter how glamorous a life they led during the honeymoon phase and golden years of their relationship and his career. If only she’d continued pursuing her career, as an actress, perhaps as an opera singer, maybe as a musical star… but instead she was left with nothing. With burdens… regret… fury.

“Vile and ingrate! too late thou shalt repent
The base Injustice thou hast done my Love:
Yes, thou shalt know, spite of thy past Distress,
And all those Ills which thou so long hast mourn’d;
Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d,
Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d.”

 – William Congreve, The Mourning Bride

From observing the relationship between my parents, and getting sucked into the sturm und drang of it all (my conception was due to my mother trying to fix what was broken in their life together… my birth and I failed to fix anything, and apparently only made things worse but there was no button to press to rewind), from watching my mother applying make up relentlessly, religiously and ritualistically, from listening to her miseries, from viewing my father sail off into his many distances, and getting to know quite a few of his mistress-muses (one was an au pair)…

By the time I met my partner… I didn’t wear make up except every now and then for fun, I wore what I wore and wore it again and again, and the efforts I made were more about getting to know him as he was and letting him see me as I was.

One of the first things I said to him when it occurred to me that he might be interested was – I am very weird… he seemed to like that about me.

We’ve been together for over 20 years, we’ve been through a lot together, we’ve been through many stages of relating within our relationship including the one where you’re not sure why you’re still together, we live and work together and spend pretty much all of the hours in a day every day together.

We both wear what we wear, look how we look, every now and then we may dress up but only for fun or because it is necessary for an event hosted by others.

We’ve got one of those coming up soon, I mentioned to my partner that I might buy something new at the local charity shop… he said why? then said he might buy me something online as he did the last time we had to get gussied up, which was lovely but is a bit tight atm or I’d wear that again.

Clothes either fit me or they don’t, I don’t change myself to fit them. I used to change myself to fit clothes, I used to change myself to fit in with other people, fit into their narrow uncomfortable shapes for others… not anymore. Been there, done that, effing hate the scratchy too restrictive T-shirt.

The efforts we both make for ourselves and for each other is to be true ourselves and thus true to each other.

I often look like I’ve only just rolled out of bed, continued to roll through a pile of clothes and was dressed by static cling, kept rolling cleaning floors as I go, rolled all the way down the stairs and landed on my head. And yet my partner still smiles with his mouth and eyes when he looks at me and tells me I’m beautiful.

And I smile right back with my eyes and mouth and tell him he’s gorgeous because he is to me regardless of the fact that he often looks like a pirate who has just come back from a raid on a fleet of warships and is a bit ragged and peckish after the scrap (I find that look very sexy, rawr!).

my favourite fictional pirate – Sandokan – I hadn’t realised until now how much my partner looks like Kabir Bedi as Sandokan.

  

My partner is the only person I’ve ever met who just understood me without my needing to explain or excuse myself. He helped me to love myself as I am. He listened and heard. He saw and showed me how to see. He never judged even when he didn’t understand wtf was going on with and within me. He was patient, kind, strong, generous with himself. And so much more…

I owe him a lot. And I repay the favour in my own weird, strange, crazy, mistake-making messy way.

I try to pass that on through my blog, my posts, my comments, my replies…

I am finally really happy and comfortable with myself as I am, it’s been a long time coming and I was never sure if I’d get there but I kept going, and I love it when others feel comfortable enough around me to share who they are as they are with me…

Thank you for sharing, it means a lot to me!

“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.”

― Thurgood Marshall

Those moments when while reading a post on a blog, an article in the news, a book, a tweet, or looking at the cover of a glamour magazine, browsing Instagram, Facebook, watching a video, TV or a film, we see a person, the people behind the words, the story, the image…

Those moments when we look in the mirror or at a photograph of ourselves and we see the thoughts and feeling in our eyes talking to us, telling us about the person, the people we are…

Those moments we connect human to human, person to person, people to people…

and know that I am you and you are me and yet I am me and you are you…

what treasured and valued moments those are!

And now for a song released in 1982 (how things have changed…?…!…):

  

  

Featured image is Triumph of the Deputies from the Humours of an Election series by William Hogarth

8 thoughts on “Losing Sight of the Fact that We are People

Add yours

  1. Sorry…cackling at “moistened bint” from that Python sketch….bwahaahahha…. Oh my goodness. ARTHUR had disgruntled peasants? Sounds like *insert any country in the world where dictators aren’t lopping folks’ heads off for expressing an honest opinion* today, doesn’t it? Sorry again…I had some really serious thoughts, swear.

    Actually I loved the story of your life, the portion shared here. Your parents, the mistress, the rogue (father) turned dependent after the stroke and bad health on the woman who ‘would not be owned’ and yet, through compassion or sense of duty (I doubt it was love) stayed and saw the man through the last and worst of his days.

    Your own love story where you actually found that rarest of treasures – a man who is content to take you as you are and help you to take him as he is without limitations and restrictions. That’s truly beautiful. Thanks for sharing your upturned soul with this blogger. It’s enriched my own life immensely!

    Like

    1. Thank you very much, Melanie 🙂

      Haha! Yep that bit about the Lady in the Lake is hilarious, it’s classic British taking the piss banter! It’s also a very perceptive and cutting perspective on politics.

      I find serious thoughts are improved and sharpened by adding humour, if you can laugh while being serious, if you can be both serious and silly at the same time, it opens the doors of perception to new ways of viewing problems and issues. Sometimes in the silly there is the solution to a serious matter because it feels safer to state it in jest.

      After my father died I had several very long conversations with his mistress about their relationship, about herself, her life before, with and after him. And also about the battles she and my mother waged over him in a court of law. She loved him in a very similar manner to the way my mother loved him, he tended to inspire passionate obsession and the desire to ‘own’ him in the women in his life.

      There was a photo I found long ago in my father’s studio of him and his mistress in the early days of their relationship, in it he was standing up looking at the camera while she was sitting down looking up at my father – the expression on her face was one of a cult member to the cult leader, complete blind faith and adoration. My mother had never looked at my father that way, in all their photos together my mother was also looking at the camera.

      My partner and I tend to look at each other in photos 😉 it still amazes me that he loves me and that the love is without tons of terms and conditions. I have been and am very blessed.

      Like

  2. What a very interesting post. I cannot comment on Melanie’s blog becuse I haven’t read it, but as for Weekly prompts and those questions, I believe addressing both men and women separately was important, though I was careful to remain inclusive and use the shortened term of she and he when referring to ‘the other half’.

    Your article clearly showed you had an unhappy start to your life but are now very comfortable and happy with who you are.
    I was thinking about your mother, taking the time to apply makeup each day was probably something she did for herself, she probably believed it made her look nice and I don’t doubt it made her feel comfortable.

    I think I’m extremely fortunate because I’ve had a good life and I don’t ever remember a time when I did not enjoy it. I’ve never been uncomfortable with who I am. From being a tiny child I loved dressing up, I probably got that from my grandma whom I admired very much, a woman who always looked a million dollars.

    As an adult, having the opportunities to dress up and be glamorous was a dream come true. I loved every moment. Even now when glamour opportunities are a little thin on the ground, I still take the time each day to dress myself smartly because that’s who I am and it’s when I am most comfortable. It’s never been to please anyone else but me. It’s like having a tidy home, I coudn’t live any other way.

    Show business is an act where everyone plays their part including the other halves, my husband was very lucky to have found found me, someone who didn’t have to act, I was who I was and I am who I am.

    Thank you so much for linking to us again at Weekly Prompts, I did enjoy your fascinating post.:)

    Like

    1. Thank you very much, SueW 🙂

      I think your weekly prompts is a great solution to the dissolution of the Daily Post, you took a possibly negative and turned it into something very positive. And your Glamorous prompt was brilliant. I loved the added extras. It gave the prompt more dimension.

      I have a tendency to connect dots I’ve noticed. Melanie’s question and your prompt were two dots I connected. I added the image of all the genders to illustrate that humans like to categorise themselves and others. There’d be even more confusion and chaos if we didn’t do it to some degree. Maybe one day far off in the future we won’t do it, but for now we do it, sometimes well and sometimes not so well, and most of us try to understand when it is useful and when it is not. In the case of your prompt it was useful and fun to have the ladies and gentlemen, as with writing prompts adding a bit more meat to it can give a prompt user more to work with, or more to focus the creative mind, which you showed in your own post for the prompt.

      I loved your post, loved reading about your life and experiences, and loved the fact that when I read it there was a comment from your daughter which was heart-warming to read. You sound like an awesome mum, a super wife, and also a lovely person 🙂

      I had the childhood and early life that I had. Some of it was a thrilling adventure. Some of it was a pain. Sometimes I whine about it. Sometimes I laugh about it. I’ve definitely found a lot of writing prompts in it. We get given what we get given and we make what we make of it. And we can review it and see things differently each time. It’s a kaleidoscope!

      My posts and style of self-expression can be a tad on the slightly scary side, that’s just me, don’t worry I only bite when I’m sleeping 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It took me three tries to find a partner that loved me wholeheartedly for who I am — all my quirks and foibles, but I did, and I love him too.

    I had an absent dad and an angry mom who felt the world owed her so much more than she had (which wasn’t much — we were poor). She married a man 11 years her junior who didn’t like kids. You can imagine how that worked out.

    Anyway. to answer your question, I do know that the person on the other end of the words on the screen is a person. And I am often acutely aware that I don’t know anything about that person other than what they offer to me — the aforementioned words on the screen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing, Willow 🙂

      It’s an amazing experience to meet someone who just gets you and loves you as you with all the weirdness. It can be challenging sometimes especially if you’re not used to it, but getting used to it is fun!

      Parents are such a mess 😉 which is how we figure out that they’re human.

      The online world is particularly surreal, you can bond in seconds with someone through their words, their social media… and yet who are they!? What is their life really like? It’s like you know them and yet don’t.

      We’re living in very interesting times.

      Like

      1. Indeed we are. As my husband often says, “We (as humans) are still trying to figure out this whole internet communication thing.” Because when you look at the big picture, it’s only been around for a short period of time. Minutes really, in the grand scheme of things.

        Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: