Being the Mirror
After a series of life changing events (or as I like to call them a Swift and Hard Kick in the Ass from Karma. Karma was wearing a pair of pointed toe stiletto 6 inch pumps; by the way. I didn’t bother to check if they were Louboutins, but I like to think that my Karma has good taste in shoes.), I’ve come to realize that my true purpose in life is that of Truth Teller. I know this contradicts what I said in a previous post about how writing was my true purpose, but in reality, writing is the way I am to realize my True Purpose.
I believe that I was always aware at some level of my true purpose in life. Up until that moment when Karma came calling, I realized that I was going about this the wrong way.
I am quite proud of the fact that, for an introvert, I am not afraid to mince words. I have zero tolerance for bullshit in my life. Forget the double speak and just cut to the chase. I’m a big girl, and I can take it whatever it is you can dish out, because chances are, I’ve heard much worse. Because I don’t like to be on the receiving end of a steaming pile of crap, I don’t like to be the giver of a steaming pile of crap, either.
There is an art to doing this. It involves being diplomatic. But when you are an angry person who doesn’t like yourself very much, diplomacy is a foreign concept. You offend people, but you justify it by saying “oh, I just tell it like it is and if you can’t handle it, that’s not my problem”. What you’re really doing is placing the responsibility for your lack of filter and manners and tact on someone else’s shoulders.
But you’re not really "telling it like it is". You’re just lashing out to make yourself feel better for awhile. And then when that false sense of self worth fades away, you're back into self-loathing again.
I know how this works because I was guilty of doing this very thing.
Now here is where the writer part comes in. Writers are the ones who hold up mirrors to the rest of the world. But I eventually realized that I am a mirror and some people don’t like that very much.
I used to have a supervisor who was referred to in polite circles as a “strong personality”. Anyone who used to work with me at my last job before I left Wisconsin probably knows who I’m talking about. I’m going to call her Louise.
Louise was a bully who also knew how to schmooze enough people so that she ended up in a position of authority. Louise pushed people around. She was also very loud, rude, and didn’t care. When she wanted to ask you something, she would bellow at you over the cube walls rather than getting up and coming over to talk to you. Louise had no regard for the fact that you might be on the phone talking to a customer or in the middle of a conversation with a co-worker. If you didn’t answer her right away, then she would start verbally abusing you.
Louise liked to step in and try to do things for you, much like the helicopter parent who steps in and does things for their children. In her mind, she was this generous person who was sacrificing her time to pitch in and help. Truth be told, people didn’t want her stepping in because she made mistakes, sometimes big mistakes. If you let her know that you didn’t appreciate her trying to take over and to back off, she would turn things around to make herself the aggrieved party. Louise was a martyr.
I don’t like it when people step in and try to take over what I’m doing. It’s a control issue. When someone else comes in and tries to take over, I always heard "you're incompetent". I am capable of doing things myself, but if I need a second opinion or some help, I will ask. Until I ask, it is best that the other person backs off. And if I do ask, and you cross that line into taking over, you won’t be asked again. Louise can’t comprehend this.
When Louise made mistakes, she never stepped up and took responsibility for them. Instead she threw the other person under the bus. I know this quite well because she did this to me.
Louise was a very negative person. She always had some critical remark when someone else had some good news. She wasn’t Debbie Downer. She was Debbie Downer with a mean streak. Because she was unhappy, everyone else had to be, too. She couldn’t be happy for you unless you were one of her favorites. I was not.
Needless to say, Louise and I butted heads. Our personality types were purely incompatible. Louise rewarded those who meekly followed her, allowed her to get her way, and didn't rock the boat. Those who didn’t step into line were punished. When she yelled to me over the cube wall, I never bothered to hide my irritation towards her.
Why did Louise and I butt heads? It wasn’t just because I stood up to her. I was her mirror. Being the mirror, I reflected back what she wished she could be and knew she wasn’t. When she looked at me, I represented all those qualities she didn't like about herself. I was competent and I did my job and I did it well. I appeared to her as confident, intelligent, and able to control my emotions while at work. I behaved professionally. She did not. Louise was prone to giving into her emotions and not forcing herself to stop, take a step back and collect herself.
Because she was a bully and in a position of authority, Louise used that to try and put me down. The only way she could attempt to make that reflection go away or make it become what she thought it should be was to push back at me and she put the responsibility for her failings and her actions on my shoulders. It was easier to blame me or to treat me horribly than it was to admit that the reflection in the mirror doesn’t lie.
In the end, I stepped down from my position because keeping what was left of my battered integrity was more important than having a salaried position and the perks that went with it. I was tired of her little games and the verbal abuse and the bullying. There was also a fear of the unknown. At the time, my husband had just received notice that his entire department was being eliminated. And being the least favorite in the department, well, meant that when management would do a sweep of the salaried positions, my name was probably at the top of the list for being let go. I was motivated by self-preservation.
I believe that I was also the mirror for my own father as well and that is one reason behind the abuse I endured growing up. I reflected back to him those qualities that reminded him of what he could have been and chose not to be. I think I still do that to some degree. But in the case of my father, I was a child and I couldn’t walk away and leave.
I do believe that I am still a mirror and a truth teller, but I’ve learned that I have a responsibility to do this with care and tact and that I have to do this from a place of love, not anger. But I’ve also learned that what someone else sees when they look in that mirror I hold up is not my responsibility, either.
It is our responsibility when we encounter those “mirrors” in life to look. I mean, really look. Not glance, and not pretend to see, but to play the “staring game” with yourself and be the one who doesn’t blink first. And it is also our responsibility to not blame others for the reflection we do see. That reflection is of us and us only. A mirror reflects back what is in front of it. A mirror doesn't lie.
You can take the girl out of Wisconsin, but you can't take Wisconsin out of the girl.