Thursday, July 16, 2009

Split Personality

Overtly being oneself is a great thing and necessary, I think, for a happy life and having any kind of satisfying success in the world.

At the same time, I'd like to think it was possible for all of me to fit in at one place sometimes. With my most high-serious chums, the flip, brash part of my nature kicks in; I'm all McDonald's and bubblegum music. On the other hand, with my most unhesitating, just-do-it, no-nonsense friends, I'm more likely to become Ms. Brooding Artist.

Probably just a playing out of my own conflict about having such disparate halves. I'm actually pleased that it's so, serves me well in a lot of ways. But it creates a sort of friction too; I'm ever pulling the wrong club out of my golf bag. And, curiously, doing it on purpose.

Decades ago, I told my therapist Nick Stratas as we walked out his office door that I had a strong identification with two people: 1) his famous-opera-singer sister Teresa Stratas and 2) the then-governor of North Carolina, Jim Hunt. Different jobs. And it would appear, very different temperaments. Therapist's response in short: "inner conflict."

I had the same conversation around that time with my brother Franc Payne; I told him that my problem was that I had our father's tumultuous interior and our mother's stoic exterior. He said, "you've got your daddy's hormones and your mama's Methodism." Neither of those descriptions do justice to either of our parents. But they do make a fair sketch of me. I'm assuming something of this sort of mixed-bag-ness is true for everyone. Which is one of the challenges of "being one's self."

How about you? How many people do you embody? Or do you feel yourself to be all-of-a-piece?

(In any event, thanks for listening. This has been a great relief.)

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mamie said...

I have the "Mary Anne" part of me that is studious, serious, and shy, scared of new things. I have the "Mamie" part of me that is outgoing, bossy, adventurous, and confident. Until I was in the seventh grade, everyone called me Mary Anne, and then I changed it to what was formerly a family nickname, Mamie.

My astrological sign is Capricorn, and this represents the real me. The Mary Anne part. My rising sign is Gemini, the personna I present to the world, the outgoing part.

Interesting topic. I look forward to hearing from some of your other readers, and enjoyed reading about you.

Anonymous said...

What a provocative and fun post! Mamie, thanks for your astrological insights.

It is reassuring to know there are others who grapple with the ying and yang of being. Most of my life I have felt "I don't fit in." Tension between the business suit made up professional to the tshirt and ghetto shorts woodstock girl; the intellectual vs the change giver to homeless I know aren't homeless; right and left brain, and the list goes on.
My therapist (fun to compare!)
stated: "When will you stop letting other people's expectations define you?"
It is great to see your joy seeker side of the "brooding artist" Too many of my artist friends brood too much.

Peggy Payne said...

Anon, I think I let others' expectations define me, but do it in a rebellious backwards way, which is no better.

I'm also a Capricorn, Mamie. I was once in an office building of about a dozen one or two person businesses, and every one on my floor at that time was a Capricorn. Didn't surprise me.

Sara Jenkins said...

I find it liberating to discover and acknowledge various parts of myself. My Zen teacher introduced me to subpersonality work, which involved getting to know our parts by writing about them. I've got this funky little notebook, which I used to keep hidden, with subpersonalities named, described in detail, and depicted with simple drawings. I'm currently taking that work deeper with an "inner empathy" practice.
I don't usually think in terms of a "real me", but like Mamie, I too changed my childhood name to one that felt like a better fit -- more "real," I guess.

Peggy Payne said...

First I've heard of inner empathy or subpersonality work--at least by those names. I will find out more.

Also, interesting work I see in your profile, Sarah. Maghrebi Arabic?

Debra W said...

Very interesting to me when people feel compelled to change their names. Mamie, if you don't mind my asking, was there an exact moment when you felt it was time to define yourself more as "Mamie", or was the change more gradual? My second daughter(my 19 year old) is a Capricorn, and so I am familiar with and can really appreciate many of the Capricorn qualities. I like Capricorns!

Peggy, you are such an interesting dichotomy of personality traits. I love the way that you seem to enjoy testing the social boundaries by "pulling the wrong club out of your golf bag". You seem to do that in your writing, as well, which is very cool.

As far as how many people I embody, I am sure that this includes both of my parents(although I sometimes hate to admit that), but also, as the years go by, I also seem to take on some of the characteristics of my husband and my four daughters. Interesting how we can continue to add on like that.

And Sara, I am interested in finding out more about this subpersonality work that you have been doing. I will have to do a little bit of research into it. It sounds intriguing.

Have a lovely weekend.

MitMoi said...

Interesting how some of those personality changes are situational, isn't it?

At work, in the office, I am "the quiet one". Okay - maybe not quiet. The "anti-social" one. This is the only place I am this way.

With customers and friends however, I am "the social one". Interested in people, their lives and their stories.

That's really the only "split" I can think of ... the rest of me, is me. Mix of serious/thoughtful - with (I like to think) humorous asides. Equally easily brave - and pushing myself to overcome fear.

Mamie - I cannot imagine you as a Mary Anne. It makes me lol.

Although sometimes I think being "Mit" is easier than "me".

Peggy Payne said...

Debbie, I hadn't even thought of the pieces as elements from people in my life. Though I'm ever more like my mother.

Once saw my reflection in the front glass of the NC Legislative building as I approached (I was a reporter there) and thought I was seeing my mother coming toward me. The impression probably lasted 15 seconds. I thought she'd popped in to see my legislator brother there. BTW, Debbie, I'm again struck by how receptive you are to new ideas.

MitMoi, I'm with you on the Mary Anne business. Can't see it at all.

Like you, I also have places and times for the quiet one and the talky one. I take on the job of talky whenever I'm with a group that isn't. Someone has to do it. I remember once as a kid, I was traveling with my family on a group tour. Meals were at tables of four, but there were five of us. So the kids took turns sitting with somebody else.

One of my brothers rebelled when it was his turn; he said that sitting at some other table "wasn't fun." My father said, "Son, if it's not fun, you make it fun."

Somehow I have developed the questionable idea that if I talk a lot, everybody has fun.

Debra W said...

Peggy, I try to keep myself open to new ideas. I see things that are placed in my path as opportunities to learn more about other people, the world and myself. I try to remain open and aware so that I don't miss something that might have been placed purposefully in front of me. I may have mentioned to you before, that I view life as one gigantic classroom, so we might as well learn while we are here.

You constantly stimulate my curiosity and imagination. You are definitely one of my teachers, Peggy.

Peggy Payne said...

Back atcha, D.