“Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe
The Ancestress Hypothesis (aka my mom) made the following comment to yesterday’s post…
I wonder if to some lesser degree we do not all go a bit of this, as even those of us who grew up here in the US are stepping from childhood to adulthood and don’t know adult rules that govern and guide adult behavior. Adolescence is a time full of opportunities for making blunders and I remember making quite a few and being humiliated. Enjoy yourself when your mom wants to buy you clothes, pick out what you like, and wear whatever make up you want. Be beautiful and if anyone dares to criticize give them a blistering criticism for meddling in affairs that are not theirs
There are few things that I feel compelled to follow up on from things she addresses.
First, it was never my intention to claim that my experience transitioning into adulthood was special, merely that it was different and I hope I made that clear. I thought I had made an allusion to how difficult that stage is for anyone. My claim is that coming from a different culture where the adult interactions that I grew up witnessing were far different from those among adults in the US, even acknowledging all the variations within each culture. For example; men just don’t treat women the same way in each culture, nor do women treat each other the same way. And even though I was exposed to American adult couples and how they interact, it was always with variations that don’t exist in general in the US and it was more of an exception than a rule. I wonder if this assumption of mine is flawed. Adolescence is, indeed, hard everywhere. But the truth is that I was raised very successfully (to coin a phrase from my mothers last blog post); I am not a horridly flawed person, I enjoy the company of people, I give of myself often to everyone around me (occasionally to the detriment of my closest relationships).
The second thing is the directive to “Enjoy yourself when your mom wants to buy you clothes, pick out what you like, and wear whatever make up you want. Be beautiful and if anyone dares to criticize give them a blistering criticism for meddling in affairs that are not theirs”. This is where the problem manifest… I don’t know how to enjoy those things. Shopping is hard because nothing seems to fit either my tall frame or my aging shape… I don’t know what looks good on me, things are expensive, I feel lost in a world of notions of “personal style” or “trends”. I feel humiliated that I am in my mid 40’s and feel this way. This is what I am trying to understand and remedy. Being directed to enjoy something is not the path to enjoying it. If I can’t enjoy it then how can I dare to give a blistering criticism for meddling in my affairs when my own insecurities make those criticisms so deeply heard as a link or morsel to something I want to know more about.
I feel that in some ways the conversations that are coming out (of me) as a product of promising myself to blog daily for a month are becoming too destructive to the relationships with the people I love… It breaks my heart to have my husband tell me he feels sad and helpless about how sad he perceives me to be, the same with my mother and with others.
The thing is, folks… I feel abundantly loved. I know that the people who love me do so in a manner that includes all of my flaws and that will not change. I know that I am loved. That is so much more than many people have. I write this because I keep getting feedback that addresses perceived emotions that I may or may not have. If I come across as miserable it is because I do feel like a failure at being unable to address these issues, in part because I don’t understand the issue. I am trying to own that and to be responsible for it. I feel like a blind person that has run into a pole and been asked why “I did something stupid like that, couldn’t I see it”? I don’t think I can see it and I don’t know why I can’t and I don’t know why that which I am trying to see is so elusive to me.
These posts have been about my own perceptions of beauty and trying to get to the root of where they originate and why they manifest the way they do. I am trying to hold up a mirror and look at what I can do to make myself more comfortable in my own skin. I am tired of being judged as lacking, even if it is by people who either find me as lacking or dismiss me as a hippie, because I know I am neither of those things and I need to figure out a way to show these people who I am in a manner that is acceptable to more of us…. I don’t find it acceptable to be considered as something like a hippie because my hair is too long and I don’t wear make-up especially because 1) my hair is too long because I have no clue as to how to cut it and the hairdressers I have gone to create something that is unmanageable for me and that 2) I don’t wear make-up because I don’t know how to put on make-up in a manner that I find acceptable and lastly, 3) I don’t know how I can create something within me to make those two things a part of a lasting commitment as I will never ever be the kind of woman who will wake up an hour earlier merely for the sake of doing her hair and make-up.
“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ~ Søren Kierkegaard
So, in light of the feedback I was getting I took to asking the wisest person I know what they felt about beauty… Squink. We were riding in the car home last night and I asked him what he thought was beautiful. He told me things that are objects of nature and he said some kinds of art. So, I asked him what he thought made a person beautiful. He struggled with that one. So I asked him if he thought a female friend of his was beautiful. He said no. But I could tell he was struggling with the topic. After a few simple questions he revealed that he did not want to say she was beautiful because to him seeing something as beautiful means you love it and while he really likes his friend he does not love her or even have a crush on her and that he felt that if he called her beautiful it would set him up to be teased. I then took a leap and asked him if he thought that I was beautiful and he said that he loved me.
So, I was able to appreciate that to love something is to find it beautiful and therefore to be loved is to be considered beautiful… all because of that conversation with Squink.
“Beauty is no quality in things themselves: It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty.”
~ David Hume
So, perhaps I am chasing a standard that is exceptionally elusive because it is of my own making and in my own mind and I don’t even know what it is. It resides in a place of my own insecurities instead of where I find my strengths.
I think I have found a key.
“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.” ~ August Wilson
Today is the halfway mark, and goodness me but what a weird ride this has been.