I recently was told that the reason I needed to hang a blanket over a large mirror facing my bed in a hotel room was because I wasn’t willing to see things about myself, and that I was avoiding parts of myself. Even when I shared that my experience of large mirrors in bedrooms kept me awake and disoriented, this person insisted that she could be in a war zone and be at peace. I noted internally that I had not asked for this feedback, yet she felt compelled to share it. I also observed how she later interacted with her ex-husband in a phone call and wondered about her claims of holding a peaceful countenance no matter where she was.
This reminded me of how we are all walking paradoxes. We say one thing that we believe is true about ourselves and then behave in exactly the opposite, maybe even moments later. Over the years I’ve noticed a softening in my harsh judgments towards myself and others and an opening to the unfolding, a deeper awakening to wholeness, that I am clearly human and still capable of extraordinary acts of love and creative expression. And life experiences keep me humble quite regularly.
Years ago I was in a discussion with two friends about tattoos and piercings. I listened as they shared their discomfort with both and their awareness of the judgments they held about those who chose to be tattooed and pierced. What I immediately saw about myself is that I often don’t really notice the packaging, the outward appearance of someone.
Well, I do notice, but fairly quickly I begin tracking their behavior, how they treat others in different settings, and how they treat themselves. I find myself observing behaviors and who they are being (tone of voice, gestures, posture, body language) because this often reveals a great deal of information about people and about me as I continue to cultivate my “inner fly on the wall” that watches me be and do Laura. The gap often shows itself in the appearance and the being, the behavior and the being, the words people speak and their actions.
You’ve probably met impeccably dressed people who are chronically angry and others who smell bad, dress badly, and are the salt of the earth– kind and funny. I learned from my childhood training that people are not always whom they appear to be in their clothes, words, and shape-shifting ways of showing up in the world.
Inconsistencies can show up on a dime, like the girls in high school who could be so kind to me one-on-one in the bathroom, but walk into the hallway, meet their friends, and suddenly spit out mean comments about my hair, blouse, or out of date knee socks. Alternatively, there were those who could be syrupy kind in public and heinously cruel in private when no one else bore witness.
I learned quickly to look beyond how people dressed, how many tattoos they had, or how many cars they bragged about owning. What became important to me was to discover, hold curiosity for the people they revealed themselves to be in all different types of situations. It became important to me to live with some semblance of consistency in my words, tone, gestures, and behaviors both publically and privately.
Integrity, wholeness, owning the paradoxes in myself, seeing these with less shame and more light-heartedness continues to be the path that excites me. Evolving to embrace my humanity-the badass, dumbass, smartass, tenderass, cuteass, angryass, creativeass, comicalass, scaredass, “do I even have an ass?” and just plain ass from the inside frees me to choose to fuel the very essence of who I am as a Soul Self, a Higher Self with dignity, humility and grace.
I probably won’t get a tattoo, yet both my adult children have beautiful artwork permanently inked on their bodies. They also show up in the world as decent human beings with a great deal of love and compassion for others. After a brief rumination, I’m likely to still cover a mirror in a hotel bedroom and yet, I will continue to be curious about my own reflection through the eyes of compassion and how others experience me and how each of us reveal who we are standing– exposed in front of a mirror– willing to look at and embrace our vulnerable and brave, perfectly imperfect, beautiful selves.