The packing puzzle ending in a mirror

I’m leaving Lightening Ridge. The owners have returned. And I’m homeless and on the move again. This time I’m heading for the coast my soul is in need moisture.

As I pack my bags I’m struck again by things that have always puzzled me when I’m travelling. These are the questions that kick me:

  1. How come things wont fit back into my bag? (Even though all I bought while I was in Lightening Ridge were a rather unattractive pair of pants, cotton, black with some strange round shapes on them, yeah I know they sound awful but they’re comfy and cool, in a temperature way).
  2. Why did I pack that in the first place? What was I thinking? Did I honestly think I would wear that again… ever? Why did I even buy it?

But then a third even deeper mystery strikes me,

  1. Why is it that no matter how many clothes I have in my suitcase or wardrobe, there are days when I have nothing to wear?

These are the mysteries I face in the outback as I pack up to leave. The last is a mystery that has plagued me for most of my adult years, and surprised some of the people I’ve lived with. They thought I was joking when I said I had nothing to wear as I stood in front of a wall of wardrobe stuffed with clothes.

Well now that I’ve raised the puzzle I guess I owe it to you to have a stab at understanding the why.

I have no idea why clothes never fit back into your bag when you’re on holiday. I think this is one of the great mysteries of the universe. I suspect it could hold the key to the final law of the universe that Einstein was searching for. Perhaps waves and particles collide when you pack a suitcase and change with context and time, relativity. That’s all I can think of at this stage of the packing game, but I’ll take a more dedicated and deliberate approach next pack, perhaps I need to take notes.

But it’s the final mystery, about not knowing what to wear, that interests me most. I think the second could be part of this final mystery. Because I don’t actually have a theory, this is my Einstein puzzle you could say, I’ll propose three possibilities and you can decide, or you might have some of your own. Perhaps this is a question that’s perplexed you for years and you’ve written a thesis on it. I’d be happy to hear from you if that’s the case.

Theory 1 – the other theory of relativity or subpersonalities

This is the theory of subpersonalities, which suggests we are a multitude of characters who play out in different contexts and times, ok yeah we could call it the other theory of relativity but I think we’re stretching our friendship with Mr Einstein now.

Take my inner bitchy chick for instance she likes to wear dirty jeans with holes in them, or very short shorts. She has tats and piercings. And her hair is multicolored and messy. The writer in me would never be seen dead in any of that especially the short shorts, ooh the cellulite shimmy.

And my writer and my professional self refuse to speak to each other let alone wear the same get up. Then there is the ultra dag. Some of you know her but usually I only let her out when no one is watching. Though she did get out a lot in Lightening Ridge. She fitted in nicely. And there are other characters rocking around in my psyche that I’m no even going to tell you about.

So, when all of them stand in front of my wardrobe – oh that’s right I no longer have a wardrobe, my metaphorical wardrobe – or suitcase, there is usually a squabble. Have you ever seen psychic characters fighting? Not pretty. No way is the inner bitchy chick going to wear those shoes that the professional woman is eyeing off. It can go on for hours, days even. I’m a bit concerned now that the inner dag has been given free reign for a while and thinks she can come out whenever she wants.

Of course I could compromise and each could choose an item of clothing. I can tell that’s how some people resolve the problem. It doesn’t really work for me I end up looking like the bag lady in drag, on a bad hair day.

Theory 2 – fat days

This theory is about my relationship with my body. A remnant from my adolescent and early adulthood when I was on the chunky side, ok I was fat, and it was very hard to get clothes to fit my butt, especially when I was travelling in Asia. Finding something that would fit was the first problem. And my inner dag was in charge in those days.

Because I didn’t like my body back then, deciding what to wear brought me face to face with what I didn’t like about it, which in my case was large thighs, ok thunder thighs not that they called me that to my face, it was a term my inner bitchy chick used behind my back.

So theory number two, fat days, states that looking into the mirror and trying to decide what to wear in the morning brings you face to face with your body. If you have a good relationship with your body, no problem, you can negotiate your way through those characters above til you find some kind of resolution, based on time and context of course.

If you don’t like your body, or if you’re having a fat day, everything you dislike, loathe, hate, etc about your body will stare you back in your face and nothing will look or feel right. But you have to wear something!

Theory 3 – mirror mirror through the wall

I don’t know about you but sometimes when I look in the mirror I get a surprise.

It’s as if the person I feel like on the inside doesn’t match the person I look like on the outside. It helps me understand why people respond to me the way they do. Inside I feel like a lovely happy child dancing around with flowers in my hair. But on the outside I look like a grumpy old woman or a dag, or sometimes a bitchy chick, or something else that I cant even decipher.

This is a psychological mystery directed by our orientation to self, and the subject deserves a whole book to unpack it. Perhaps I’ll have a crack at it after this novel writing phase.

But in the meantime, there seem to be two main orientations to self, seeing from inside self, inside-out, and watching self from outside-in.

If you’ve experienced traumatic or overwhelming events early in life it’s likely that you have some propensity for the latter. In other words you are outside yourself watching in. This happens because your system needed to become vigilant to survive if you were in an unsafe environment or experienced some extreme or overwhelming events. This is like having a watcher or a minder that keeps tabs on everything, including how you might be seen in the world, like watching yourself through someone else’s eyes, instead of being in your own skin.

Working with people with a history of trauma, including myself, this is one of the most important shifts people need to make in brain integration. It’s a symptom of recovery, indicated by a person becoming grounded in their own sensory experience, inside their own skin. And this has become one of the main parts of my work with i-brainmap. I discuss this orientation in the book.

Ok let’s get back to the mirror thing. If you’re outside watching yourself then the mirror is a different experience than if you are inside looking out. Well it’s complicated. Perhaps I do need to write a book, about the mirror of relativity.

But for now I need to wind this up and not launch the book, so here’s the thing, the mirror will reflect back whatever your orientation.

If you hate your body, your face, your hair, you’ll look into the mirror and find what you don’t like.

If you avoid looking at yourself, you will hardly see that person staring back at you, or throw on some clothes without bothering to look (or perhaps you’re so comfortable with your body and your reflection that you don’t need to check if there is smear of toothpaste on your chin). If you worry about what people think you might look for trouble in the mirror, like a zit or a hair out of place, or, god forbid, a wrinkle or grey hair.

If you’re looking for something and wondering about what it all means and if … and why… and why not… is this… can it really…? like me then you probably get a surprise when you look in a mirror, sometimes, while at other times you could be intrigued by the way you see yourself, especially if your inner bitchy chick is staring back at you.

There are probably as many ways to face a mirror as there are ways to see the world. So try it for yourself. What is your reflexive response when you look in the mirror? This may be what you are faced with when you go to your wardrobe or suitcase each morning and try to decide what to wear.

Oh dear now I’m more confused than ever, so much for finding some solutions to the puzzles and great mysteries of the universe. When I get dressed this morning I think I’ll just grab whatever is on top.

Have a great day and may your mirror be kind and never lie, except if it’s a dag day, or a fat day, or….

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