Warped Reflections

 

water ripples photo: Ripples water1.jpg

The Past needs to stay there, they say.

Romanticized memories, made so by glass-half-full optimism and naivety. Or was it self-preservation? I suppose it was.

Is.

Blips from long ago, like jagged stone, tumbled and molded by the river of life. Transformed into smooth, round rocks that glow burnt orange and mustard yellow under the shimmery surface. I’m mesmerized by their simplicity. Content.

I take one out of the water to inspect it further. See it for what it really is.

It’s ugly, jagged stone.

I recoil and throw it back in the water where it can beautiful again. Clean. Harmless.

After the stone breaks the surface, ripples continue as far as I can see. This gives me clarity.

I understand now why the past is still here.

Ripples.

I don’t blame her. But I do.

I hate her. But I don’t.

I resent her. Yet I try to have perspective.

I lean over the bank to see my reflection.

But too often, it’s hers that stares back at me.

The horror.

The beauty.

Do you find silver-linings in things that don’t deserve them? Do parts of your past still ripple into the present? Have you ever seen yourself in someone you don’t like? Share your thoughts, I’d love to hear them.  

128 comments

    1. It’s tough to write about, isn’t it? I’ve been stewing in these thoughts for a few days now and it just sort of all purged out into this post. I hope you’re able to write yours. I’d love to read it.

      Like

      1. My post ended up evolving into something else. I am not completely sure about it, but it’s scheduled and out of my system… Which is the point of me writing it out. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Excellent writing

    I find nostalgia stomach churning and a waste of time. I’ve never met a successful person or a happy couple of really anyone that’s worthy of attention that lives in the past.

    I think you draw on painful parts of your past to help you understand who and what you are. Also, that angst makes great art. But that should be the past’s only purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A little background on this piece: my mother was just in town for four days. Whenever I spend time with her, I get sort of….ummm…..melancholy I guess is the best word. Shit stirs up. Her very presence rips away my protective wall and leaves me bleeding and vulnerable. So I write, and it goes away. For now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Beth- oh how I so get you. It’s amazing how the past rears its ugly head full of jagged ends when people from our broken history make their appearance… yes yes yes. Oh, yes.

        Not only do we take those stones out- sharp and hideously jagged- but we see what they did to our reflection… and the ripples emerge and spill out across the glass peace that once was.

        And so we write… and I pray too. And I find my silent whisper that says It’s okay. It’s not who you are now, and that rock can sink right back down the ground from which it floated upward for those fleeting awful agonizing moments. It can be covered with all the beautiful clear and seamless layers that buried it all and added more goodness and light surrounding that dark blemish so very deep within the water. If we choose to intentionally gaze on those healing and nourishing bubbles that are produced when the rock plummets back down from which it came-

        We can discover that this ugly piece is left to rot while existing always, but never alive and powerful enough to build a current that keeps the ripples from going on and on and on and on…

        Instead- they slowly fade away…into the shore…and once again, the clarity of our reflection reveals the light from the sun. So bright, that all we see is illumination of the now. The trauma is over.

        And we are whole again.

        Like

        1. “We can discover that this ugly piece is left to rot while existing always, but never alive and powerful enough to build a current that keeps the ripples from going on and on and on and on…
          Instead- they slowly fade away…into the shore…and once again, the clarity of our reflection reveals the light from the sun. So bright, that all we see is illumination of the now. The trauma is over.”

          Your words have given me permission to change the trajectory of those ripples. Thank you, Chris. I literally feel lighter. *HUGS*

          Like

  2. Perfectly said, so spot on. The past is a necessary reflection for growth but sometimes can be hinderance. Yin and yang. But don’t hate her because she is a part of you and a part of how you became you. ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, sweet SW. Logically I know this is all true, and I do appreciate the events that have made me who I am. She tends to leave me reeling and raw, though. I’m better now. had to write it out, ya know?

      Like

  3. I’ve been writing. I’v been writing what I thought I always wanted to write about. My past and all of the stones in my pool. Like you, when I pick them up, they’re jagged, awful. Feeling those feelings and reliving that past, made me stop writing for a while. I didn’t want to feel any of it. However, now that more and more goes on the page, I find that the sky is brighter and I don’t look so bad in the pool of my own reflection.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think a lot of us were reflective lately! Kristi talked about decisions from the past and I wrote a little bit about my past. I used to regret my past, but now I know all of the mistakes and ugliness were necessary to bring me to the place I was when and HOW I needed to be there, to make THOSE decisions and so on….ripple effect. You can’t change the past but you can learn from it.
    A wise cartoon monkey once said that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, Beth, I just love this. I have some rocks and although a therapist has suggested that I need to look at them to get past them, I am terribly afraid of their edges. What a wonderful way to put it. Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This has actually been on my mind lately. I’ve been writing about a trauma we endured as a couple/family a couple years ago. Someone recently commented on how well things ended up, what a positive place we are in now, considering. And there are positives in our life now that would not exist without having endured that miserable time, I admit. But I cannot be thankful for it, even so. I don’t buy into the “everything happens for a reason” mentality. Shitty, fucked-up stuff happens, and it shouldn’t!!!! There may be a positive byproduct for which I am grateful, but I don’t think I have to also be grateful for the horror.
    A little rambly….
    Also, read the loveliest WS Merwin poem the other day and thought of you. I’ll look for it and send.

    Like

    1. I remember you eluding to something a few posts back. I need to catch up on your blog! I hope you’re able to write about it. I know you’d get tons of support. And yes, it’s very hard to be thankful for some things.

      Like

  7. It explains…well. A lot? I want to say that, but then you never know with poetry how much is real and how much is done for effect.

    As to silver linings – I’m silver lining my whole existence at the moment – building them around me like a nest, hoping to feel one day that it’s been worth the construction. I won’t touch “deserve” though, because no matter how sweet an idea it would be if the past only served as muse, that’s impossible and also impossible. And a bit more impossible. Unless you’re a robot (which you aren’t, not really).

    As to seeing myself. I have features I dislike for reasons beyond their heritage, but the reflection which upsets me is the occasional accusation “That’s so very like HIM”; “The kind of thing HE would say.”, which reminds me I’ve not yet grown into my own person, am still moulded into vile shapes by his opression, and still have more panel-beating to do on my ‘self’ before it becomes acceptable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THAT is exactly what I’m most afraid of. That I’m more like her than I realize. *shudder* I do everything I can to not be like her…..but sometimes I think of something and realize I’m acting like her and a little part of me dies.

      Like

      1. *hugs* I know. And it’s vile but inherent within us, and the only thing we can do is remain aware, be vigilant and not perpetuate the cycle.

        But also (more challenging) to let ourselves off the hook relatively lightly when it happens – because for those around us, our regression into whatever isn’t accompanied by the hundred million other wrongs wrought by them. So it doesn’t have the same impact on us, kit just devastates us because we’re still hooked into the memories.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent and deep Beth! Thank goodness mom and I have a wonderful relationship. I see her ALL the time. Of course we are long distance from each other. One time I was in a department store and walking towards one of the column mirrors. For a second my brain was trying to process what my mom was doing there and then I realized it was my reflection. I’m affected differently. I get sad for the day when she’s no longer here but I see her when I look in the mirror.

    Like

    1. Kenya! I was reading a post of yours last night on my iphone and didn’t want to mess with replying until I was back on my computer…..and of course then I forgot – so I’m glad to see you here!

      That’s awesome that you have a great relationship with your mom. I don’t physically look like her, but I’m afraid I am like her in some ways…..ways I don’t want to be. Like narcissistic. And a martyr. And passive aggressive. and a hypocrite. I could go on and on…..

      I need to do a post of all the things I’m thankful to her for. Maybe would help me. *scribbles down post idea*

      Like

  9. OMG yes..Yes I do often see myself in someone I don’t like and don’t admire.

    I’m really trying to find compassion for that person and myself, though..I am trying.

    Like

    1. Yes, it makes me angry and scares me, too, Guap. Exactly the reason I’ve been stewing for days. I don’t know what’s worse: Stirring old shit up, or feeling like I’m a lot like the person who did the shit in the first place.

      Like

  10. Pure awesomeness. I wish I could write like that…I’m jealous. I try to have an optimistic outlook on life, but sometimes it’s just hard, really hard.

    Like

  11. It’s like you crawled inside my brain and expressed what I don’t have the poetic tongue to express. This is one of those poems that I read and I see me and my life and things I’m trying to grapple with now. But then I read it again and see how it can mean something slightly different to someone else. The person I see staring back is me. And I realize that the person I perceive as me is not who I am or was. What I’m trying to say is this was beautiful and awesome and kinda “Wow” for me in a personal way. Thank you…

    Like

    1. I have no doubt you have the poetic tongue to express anything you want! you’re an awesome writer. I understand what you mean about seeing a person who is not who you are or were. It can be quite foundation-shaking.

      Thank you, and I’m glad this was “wow” for you. 🙂

      Like

  12. Sometimes I wonder if I am forever doomed to replay the images of my past in mind. Like the pond a single action will send ripples in our minds distorting and warping the images we see.

    Like

  13. I’ve been going through this with my memories lately. This was spot on, in fact.
    I should leave them in the stream.

    Like

  14. I got some serious goose bumps on this one, Beth.

    In addition to the fact that it’s beautifully written it really hits hard where it hurts. Whereas I don’t have a dark, gloomy past to hide, I certainly do have some scars due to little secrets that will likely follow me to my grave.
    Those scars are hidden and buried behind my smile until they aren’t. The reflection you spoke about describes it perfectly. I’m not overly proud of keeping secrets, but without their experience, I don’t think I’d be the same happy, grateful person that I am today.
    So glad you wrote something today…I’ve been keeping an eye out 🙂

    Like

    1. I adore you, and I totally get scars that are hidden behind a smile…until they aren’t. I am typically super grateful and optimistic, but this past week just sort of left me reeling. Like it always does, when SHE’S in town. It makes me look at things that I’ve “put away” in my head. It makes me remember. It makes me angry.

      Then I write. and the world is all better again. 🙂

      Like

      1. Tell HER to pack her bags, that this is YOUR house and she’s not welcome today.
        Sorry about your week…even happy, grateful people reel sometimes, right? It’s such cliche’…but these times DO make the good times better.
        Happy Saturday!
        xo

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Probably says something that I’m listening to the audiobook 10% Happier right now and am thinking about taking up meditation as a way to focus on the present moment and not be bogged down by the past so much. Humans are much too hard on themselves. We all have that in common I suppose, well except for the happy Mormon people, but I live in southern Idaho so it’s my right to bash on them a bit 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Yes. Yes I do see silver linings in things that don’t deserve them. And lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the ripples. This was a great piece and definitely something I glad I read. Thank you.

    Like

      1. Girl I know. If I’m being honest…and blunt…it fucking sucks. Being mature enough to reason and not excuse, but understand, another persons actions – that at some point really hurt you…is a double edge sword. It’s easier and much more comfortable to blame instead of understand. Ugh…makes me roll my eyes. And yet…I’m on the verge of making a very, very difficult phone call, despite how pissed off I am at my revelation that people truly are only human. I need another glass of wine.

        Like

        1. Dawn, I feel for you! I wish you superhero strength during your phone call. I’m sorry you can relate, and that you’re still having to deal with it. *HUGS*

          You’re right. It’s so much easier to be angry and blame. I think that’s where my perspective comes in. Or tries to. I need to see certain people as human. In a way I do. Sometimes better than other. Samara wrote this amazing post once about the “Tenses of Forgiveness”. I read it while in my car in the grocery store parking lot and was floored because I could so relate, but I never saw it that way until I read her post. My forgiveness really does happen in tenses. I have, I do, and I will continue to work on forgiving.
          Here’s that post if you’d like to read it. It’s brillz. http://samaraspeaks.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/my-mother-my-self-my-son/

          Like

  17. Beth. This gets one in the gut. It is so bittersweet beautiful… and speaks, so eloquently and poetically, what it is to look back. I’m grateful for those jagged edges, and the ripples, too. They make me who I am…it’s learning to be kind to them that is the tricky part. Right on the money for me this week, and I could read lots more of this from you! xox

    Like

    1. You made such a good point, Alarna. It is hard to be kind to them, especially if you just don’t like them as a person, yet, you have to be around them ’cause they’re family. It’s difficult to reconcile, but I manage. The aftermath leaves a stain on my soul, but I write it out.

      Like

      1. It’s interesting, because I took from your words an ambivalence about past memories concerning one’s own jagged edges. Re-reading them now, I understand differently what you mean by ‘her’ and can only offer you my deepest commiserations. I know what it is to have family like that…I’m not sure I manage kindness, in that instance. The best I can do is to stay at arms length, and say as little as possible until it’s over. Then, back home, take a deep bath to cleanse myself of that stain of negativity…. Love and hugs to you.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Wow, Beth, we really were on similar pages today. I love the idea of throwing the past back in the river to make it more beautiful looking. So true. Also those ugly jagged stones are the ones that shaped us, so how can we possibly hate them all the way? Really beautiful.

    Like

    1. Thank, Kristi! That means a lot to me. And yes, I prefer to just throw them back in the water and pretend they’re beautiful memories. I hate when circumstances stir them up to the top.

      Like

  19. Beth your writing is becoming so deep & beautiful!! Evolving into something wholly different it’s truly splendid in that it asks questions of its reader while allowing us to relate. We truly loved this one!! Sharing it now so that others can enjoy! 😉

    Like

  20. You’re like a coin. One flip and your spouting out clever, crude, and funny, and then the other side, poetic, colorful, thought provoking, and powerful. Your brilliance astounds me, Every time.

    I don’t know what was eating at you. I just hope that you feel better now.

    This might be my favorite paragraph I’ve ever read of your writing:

    “Blips from long ago, like jagged stone, tumbled and molded by the river of life. Transformed into smooth, round rocks that glow burnt orange and mustard yellow under the shimmery surface. I’m mesmerized by their simplicity. Content.”

    Sitting in awe of you, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. (***Transformed into smooth, round rocks that glow burnt orange and mustard yellow under the shimmery surface. I’m mesmerized by their simplicity. Content.***

    OMgosh, now this is your genre, Beth. xxx

    Like

  22. I find myself ALways trying not to be like either of my parents, who can both suck the air out of a room just by being IN it.

    I wonder why that is sadly true of so many of us–where the most hurtful thing someone could say is “You sound just like your mom/dad!”

    I keep my past in the past and leave those rocks under that water. Hot glue them down if I have to. I strongly believe my past, every good and bad moment of it, made me who I am and brought me to where I am, and I’m happy with both of those things, so that gives it a definite silver lining.

    I’ve also had to learn to say “No” more often, and only say yes to the good stuff. If your mom makes you feel that way…girl, you have to find a way to limit the time together or keep her out of your space altogether. It’s the hardest thing in the world–to stand up for yourself to your own parent(s), but sometimes things just *have* to be said–especially if they (our parents) don’t know they’re affecting us the way they are. I found myself having to do that very thing, this spring, which was simultaneously the hardest and strongest and meanest and best thing I’ve ever had to do-, but I’m not sorry. I feel relieved and stronger. I only wish I’d done it five years ago.

    Great post! Also sending a hug; I hear ya.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this comment, Stef. I’ve gone to pretty great lengths to keep certain people at arms length, but sometimes (like for kids bday parties or holidays) it can’t be avoided. Fortunately, I only see the people who I don’t like 2 times a year or so. I handle it, but there’s always soul collateral damage.
      *hugs back*

      Like

      1. I hear that. Does EVERYone have that one (or two) relatives who just leave a trail of strife everywhere they go? My parents don’t live nearby, so I deal with them in my own way.

        I do have one in-law who lives here, who I deal with like you said–arms length! I jokingly say the only way I can handle her visits is to keep the topics LIGHT, so I confine myself to “the price of coffee and the weather” and make wisecracks about everything else, until it’s over. Once or twice a year is plenty, and even then she can leave me sputtering and speechless.

        The older we get, the more we’re finding that nice, quiet, private family holidays are really lovely these days. And I also find that the older I get, the less I am willing to be forced to deal with people who aren’t enjoyable to be around, in my private space/life. I finally gave myself permission to shut some people OUT, related or not.

        We got to the point where we said the kids were having “just some friends from school” over for birthdays, and let it evolve from there, and I passed the host-every-holiday-at-my-house torch to my sister-in-laws (there are 6), so I’m basically off the hook these days, and it feels GREAT.

        Like

        1. Yes, I think everyone does have a relative or two that sucks the life out of a room! and that’s awesome that you’re off the hook as hostess, YES. That makes a huge different. Now you’re in control.

          a few years ago I put a stop to traveling at Christmas. Prior to that, we were travelling to my mom’s every other year. Well, she basically ruins Christmas, so I said eff that, we’re staying home. Best. Decision. EVER.

          Like

    1. Laurie, thank you so much. I’m sorry if it drudged up any shit for you, but I’m also glad you can relate and I’m not the only one who fears “looking” (inside or out) like someone they desperately don’t want to reflect.

      Like

      1. Oh don’t worry, Beth! It’s not stuff that hasn’t been drudged up before… multitudes of times… haha. 🙂 I’m dealing it it okay. I totally, totally relate. I desperately do not want to reflect my dad, and yet sometimes, I definitely do.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. My past is always there… I rather think of it like that stray piece of toilet paper that sticks to your heel and no one points it out so it just trails along behind you all your life. Getting rattier and tattier and more determined to cling. Disgusting and familiar it becomes; and yet you know instinctively: one of you must fall.
    I don’t want to fall.
    So the old must be flushed away.
    I can revisit — remember, learn, reflect, grow … whatever.
    But I don’t have to sit there and bask in my own stink.

    Sorry — your river rocks was a much nicer image.
    But the person who represents my past – well, he’s not worthy of pretty rocks or clear pools, so this is what I am left with.

    You can take a trip down memory lane, but you don’t have to pack a bag and stay there.
    That sounds much better. 🙂

    Like

    1. haha I read this 10 seconds after I opened my eyes this morning and was grinning the whole time at your analogy. Brilliant. Not as pretty as my river rocks, but brilliant nonetheless. Thank you for sharing, and for your awesome comment. Nice to “meet” you. 🙂

      “I can revisit — remember, learn, reflect, grow … whatever.
      But I don’t have to sit there and bask in my own stink.”

      I love that line. So true. I think when “she” visits, I’m left basking in my own stink. But then I write, and I get amazing comments and support (yours included) and I FLUSH THAT FUCKER DOWN!!! Lol.

      Like

  24. Ok. So. (Eloquent, I know :/) I have read this over and over and over. I have tried to comment but every time I just burst into tears. My past has reared it’s head in the ugliest of ways in the past week and this post. ….yeah. I want so badly to say something intelligent and lovely but I’m crying again so….just I love you. That’s all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, Sandy. I’m sorry you’re “there” too. (well, I’m much better now after writing it out). I hate that you’re feeling this way at all, and that my post made your cry!! NOOOO.

      If you ever EVER need to vent/talk/write, plz know you can email me personally. You and I have a lot in common and I love you to pieces. I’m always here for you.

      Like

  25. Wow, Beth, this was beautifully expressed. I envy your ability to go from absolutely hilarious to waxing so poetic.

    This is so timely. As you probably guessed, I haven’t been reading nearly enough lately, and trying to get a post out every month or so, lol. But I stumbled on an old notebook in a financial folder today, and behind the calculations on capital gains (from the 1990s!), I found some very detailed and personal thoughts on my past and the resulting stress and strife on my self-worth and romantic relationships over many years. It was the strangest thing. Fortunately, I don’t experience those feelings as much anymore, but it is just such a coincidence that I was drawn to your blog, only to find this post. Truth is, there are no coincidences; I was just meant to read your eloquent thoughts on this topic and tell you that I understand and have been there.

    The complicating thing with my mother is that now that she has dementia, and really doesn’t understand that she has it. I have said before that where some people get mean and nasty when they get demented, my mother was mean and nasty before, so now she is actually nicer. She is still a narcissist, which is interesting, because dementia is said to basically change, or eventually, remove your personality. I am afraid that narcissism is larger or more pervasive than personality, because it has remained the central trait that would describe her, even now.

    Anyway, I am so glad that writing makes you feel better. Don’t let the bastards (or bitches) get you down! We are better people today for the whole experience that brought us here. XXOOXX

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Roby, I agree…there are no accidents. I’ve been led to blogs before (by the Universe) that I totally needed at the time. I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. That’s so hard. Oh, and I see we’re both children of narcissists? UGH.

      Thank you for your beautiful and thoughtful comment. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  26. I’ve actually been putting off reading this post because I was afraid it would hit too close to home – and yes! I’m living through a situation right now, in which I don’t exactly see myself in the person, but our interactions bring out the worst in me, so I feel crappy about it from two perspectives. Yeugh!

    Like

  27. Oh Lord, do I. Too much, too much. Half of my brain is always in the past, I’m afraid. I was just thinking the other day about how badly I wish that “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” technology were real and I could have entire memories erased from my mind… I know the point of the movie is that this is a bad idea, but… I’d still like to give it a try.

    The tattoo on my hand, which I really ought to blog about, is called a “Sankofa.” It’s an Andrinka symbol from W. Africa and literally means “Go Back And Take.” The bird is depicted facing backwards even as it flies forward, and you’re supposed to take from the past what is helpful for the future… and then leave everything else behind. I try very hard to live by that, otherwise I get lost in all the “back” stuff.

    Like

    1. I LOVE the meaning behind your tattoo! It’s true, you do have to try and learn from the past, good and bad. It’s tough, and it sucks, but somehow it brings us to where we are now. Better. Smarter. Stronger. #sisterwives

      Like

  28. This was lovely. I can honestly say that I can see the upside of almost every terrible thing that has ever happened to me. The heart surgeries, the abusive relationships, my childhood, everything. And I actually feel gratitude towards some of those terrible things.

    Like

    1. That’s such a beautiful way to look at the past, Maurna. Gratitude toward some of the shit. I think most of the time I am okay with the past because it has made me who I am. Then I’m around certain family members, and I want to crawl outta my own skin. You know?

      Like

Speak to me! I wanna hear ya!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s