Friday, 29 January 2010

Alter Ego

Please can I remind you to change your links and feeds to

Reading MKL's post about <a href="">Hannah</a> and then contrasting it with the pictures of celebs without make-up, made me think about the situation from a slightly different perspective to my normal zealous schadenfreude at the plastic people getting caught out by the paps.

Sure, it still makes me feel good to hear about Hannah's determination and achievement.  And even better to see those painted ladies, who have always given me such an inferiority complex, as they really are.

But then I started to wonder what it must be like for those troubled women.  To be two people and to revel in their public face, the one that is airbrushed and primped and pampered to perfection, all the time trying to deny the real person.  To have that poor little mite paraded as something to be disparaged because she isn't wearing make-up or has a spot.  What must the emotional turmoil of that scenario be like to deal with?  How many counsellors will it require to repair that type of damaged psyche?

And then I am reminded of my own alter egos.

The first came about when I was locked in the depths of my desperate battle against anorexia.  After so many downtrodden, repressed years as a nobody, I reinvented myself as a woman trying to succeed in an extremely masculine world.  

She sought help from the great and the good and, for some reason, they acknowledged her struggle and her persistence.  They listened and advised.  No one had ever really done that for her before.  But, because she was so different to the norm, these men were kind to her, without asking for any reward other than that she put into practice what they were teaching and improved herself.

She listened and learned and made a name for herself.  She succeeded... and I looked for recognition and congratulations from those nearest and dearest to me. 

But there was none.

No mention of a hard battle, fought and won.  No appreciation.  No pride through association.  Nothing.

That was when she realised that something drastic needed to happen.  A coup d'etat that would free me from the binds that tied and constrained me.  It was she who gave me the courage and the determination to seek what happened next.

And so I met Ruf and pursued the chance to be happy with every breath in my body.

Joanna Cake exists because of him (and Angela, of course).  Joanna took up the weapons wielded by her predecessor and really started to make things happen.  She wrapped me up in her persona and made me feel safe, no longer weak and helpless as my world began to disintegrate around me. 

Using the public approval that she had acquired from the wonderful people with whom she had come into contact through her writing, she began to build me up until I broke down the barriers and forced myself to face up to what was happening in my life. 

Her dogged insistence took me to the Counsellor and her bravery forced me to act when I had reached the nadir in my marriage.  To bounce off the bottom and pursue an upwards path.

Her common sense and business acumen helped me to sort out the various financial implications and make myself a new life in a new home.  She got me through the long nights when I was frightened and living alone for the first time in my life.

And now she is helping me to begin to make a living doing what I love.

But, when I look in the mirror, wearing no make-up as usual, I see me.

Joanna Cake and her predecessor stare out from behind my eyes, defiant and empowering.

And now I begin to understand.  That inner fire and determination.

It has always been me.

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