Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

You might have noticed I petered out alarmingly fast on #resound11/#reverb11.

And by fast I mean I wrote on the first prompt and then...*cold-weather crickets chirping*.

Frankly, I really didn't want to do it this year. Last year...

Last year, I was coming off the high of finding a community of NaBloPoMo participants. I had found a groove, writing every day, connecting with other people who were writing every day. I enjoyed finding other blogs and letting other readers find me. I loved the connectedness of writing, publishing, reading, and commenting that NaBloPoMo inspired. Reverb10 seemed like an excellent follow up for more of that sense of community then.

But it wasn't. At least, that's not what I experienced. It is my opinion that, unless you had time to tweet all day - which I don't - most people didn't give a rat's ass about you or what you'd written. Along these lines, I didn't have a lot of spare time to sift through every single tweet with the #reverb10 hashtag to find links to blogs to read...so I, personally, didn't read very many.

Additionally though, answering the prompts was particularly difficult for me. Reading back through some of those posts, I remember how resentful - practically downright angry - I was writing about some of them. Sometimes it was because the prompts felt redundant (even Schmutzie commented on the redundancy issue at one point). At other times, well, it was because the prompt elicited a particularly negative emotion or conjured a horrible past experience...experiences I was trying desperately to avoid addressing in the blog.

On day 2 of #resound11, the prompt delivered to my inbox (granted, there are many other prompts out there for the resound11 project not to mention I was also welcome to make up my own) was this:

My Children Will Do it Differently - If you could choose one thing that your children will do or experience in a different way than you have, what would it be and why?

First of all, this is not reflecting on the year just past. Secondly, I don't have any children. And, reading this, all of a sudden, I felt angry, resentful, and disgusted with the project. Why?

I do not regret not having children. Not even a little bit. Remaining child-free was a choice I made early on in my adulthood and I am VERY happy with that decision for many reasons - some of which have yet to be uncovered. However, I resent prompts like this because it's presumptuous and kind of elitist. It assumes every single person participating has children and that is just not TRUE - whether that is by choice or by fate or by genetics.

The truth is that there are millions of adults in this world who are child-free/childless for a reason. That isn't abnormal or wrong or a black mark against our inherent character. It's just...what is and none of us ought to feel compelled to justify our reasons. Not even for a writing challenge prompt.

So I rolled my eyes, flipped off #resound11, and went about my merry blogging way ignoring each daily e-mailed prompt. Instead, I wrote about the grandest of grand parties I want to throw. Because hello! Pretty Princess Party with orangutans and hats and ballroom dancing!

And...I kept reading the blog posts delivered to my feed reader.

This morning, I read a post from Julie Unplugged - Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Find Your Beauty on this Word Tell All - A Continued Ripening from #Reverb11. I found Julie during last year's reverberation so it was no surprise that she was participating this year. I knew she was because I (try) to keep up with my feed every day and had already seen several reverb posts from her.

However, today, I was shaken from the start with this:

As I look in the mirror, I see… and I realize lately I have neglected to look in the mirror. Mostly I scan for stains or tattered edges, split seams. I notice I have left my eye contact with myself someplace else.

What is the secret I am hiding from my view?
Or what is the secret I continue to stuff into the closet behind me?

Ouch.

Nerve struck. Zen arrow hit its mark. Zen stick doled out its little love tap *THWAP*.

I haven't looked in the mirror lately...by design. Secretly, I don't want to because mirrors, well, mirrors reflect the truth - the truths I cannot hide if I actually bother to look long and long. Truths about weight gain, sadness, anxiety, fear, aging, rejection, rejection, rejection, and incompetence.

It truly has been a shit-tastic year and I am ill-equipped for the shit.

Anyway.

Later in the day, I was engaged in conversation with a woman whose ability to self-flagellate makes me look like the fresh-faced kid off the boat, taking his first tentative tip-toes into the leather scene. Describing a personal situation with a chronically, critically ill family member she said:

And I feel like a hypocrite! Telling her she must do this and must do that all the while knowing I won't - flat out refuse - to do those things myself!

I was struck by just how much of her own choices were being rudely mirrored back to her in a painfully obvious way - in a way that might get through to her. Little did she know I was feeling just as much a hypocrite listening to her talk and then responding with my sage advice...advice I was unwilling to admit was advice I ought to be taking for myself.

Because the truth hurts. And, right now, I don't want to be staring down the barrel of truth when it feels as though everything hurts.

And yet...


No lie is quite so damaging as the lies we tell ourselves.

And that's the truth.

Note: Somehow I managed to blog tonight about the GBE 2 prompt for this week: Truth. I didn't intend to but I like that I killed two birds with my one stone.

8 comments:

Jo said...

I really hate that you killed two birds at all, but I enjoyed the blog. I totally agree with prompts sometimes being spot on and sometimes being a huge challenge and sometimes just not for everyone. I think that's okay. Skipping prompts that are too painful or that you aren't comfortable sharing, pass it up!
That's one of the reasons I love this group. No pressure from anyone, including myself to follow the prompts. AND if one feels like writing about something completely off the scope, but relevant in one's own life, excellent! Write it and post it, just not in the thread for the prompt! lol
Great job of laying it out there.

Gaelyn said...

You REALLY NEED to have that party!

Guess I always have enough/too many ideas running around in my head that prompts just wouldn't be my thing.

I like what I read here. Keep up with the truth.

cdnkaro said...

Thanks for sharing so openly, Jane...you've given me a lot to think about today.

S. Stauss said...

I think that's a really dumb writing prompt... and I have children. As for the mirror thing, sometimes the truth that needs to be accepted is that it's OK to take a break from raw reality. Beautiful writing, Jane. And also? Always let the Wookiee win.

KAT said...

I really like your insights and honesty in this post. We all face rough times and certain topics hit way too close to home or just don't apply to us. I say pick and choose what fits and what doesn't. Blogging should be fun and when it becomes too painful it is time to pick another topic. Great post!

Lucy said...

Sometimes I think the MommyBloggers rule the blogosphere LOL!!!! Oh, and I have 'kids' but they are all grown up so sometimes I am not into a lot of the stories or I know the mommies don't really want me to comment, they won't like my two-cents, trust me LOL.
But, like you said below, I don't always like to look at myself and have to deal with my own advice or issues, you know that Mirror can be harsh tool!

Masked Mom said...

Two birds, one stone. You rock.

Word Nerd said...

Gotta love the combo-platter blog. :O)

Group writing prompts need to be very general. Even then, not every one will appeal to everyone, but a prompt like that one is sure to exclude people. Bad choice.