I’m experiencing something which I’ve noticed before but seems to be getting more and more obvious. As I get older, I quite often catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and remind myself of my mother. Seeing those physical traits is always disconcerting but in addition to that I am starting to recognise character traits in myself that remind me of her too. As a child I completely rejected her as a role model, I did not want to be like her in any way, she was broken and I had to be strong. I looked for other female role models, my aunt was one of them, she was very messy and I was too. She was also a very strong, capable personality who got on with difficulties in life with a laugh and a joke, so even if she could be quite insensitive and ride roughshod over people at times, I admired her strengths.
As I am starting to tease apart my mother’s upbringing, leading into my personal relationship with her, trying to portray things in my zine, I am having to recognise that I AM part of her, I have 50% of her DNA. And that she had good traits and qualities as well as the ones I found more difficult. I need to find a comfortable balance for myself, embrace the good stuff without fearing slipping into the negative bits.
I found her way with other people was one of those traits that can be seen positively / negatively. When she met new people she was the absolute expert at getting them to like her. She was brilliant at mirroring them, agreeing with everything they said, her own real self was hidden. I didn’t like being around her in those situations, as an observer, should I play along?
So my recent interactions with other people are making me uncomfortable at times. Instead of holding myself aloof from others I have got on with some new people and been pleased when they have liked me. But does that mean I am turning into her? There has to be a comfortable middle ground somewhere. To me it is about authenticity, I don’t want to hide my true self. I don’t have to flag up differences but I need to be true to myself at all times and that is more important than the liking / not liking. For example, my new acquaintance I was talking about as liking me, turns out they were under a misconception about me. They had put me into the “cuddly granny” box. Now that is obviously a box they are comfortable with. But I’m not actually IN that box! And as we carry on interacting, I had to gently disabuse them of that stereotype.