Saturday, 8 July 2017

Nakedness and the subconscious mind

So, basically, these are my clothes.

The ones on the shelf

and the ones hanging on the door

and they are enough for everything I need.

I love my clothes. They are comfy and plain, unobtrusive and modest, soft and quiet. They aren’t scratchy and they don’t rustle. They aren’t tight or restricting. I can bend and stretch and walk and work in them. The colours (dark, muted) suit me. The shapes suit my body. They wash and wear. They are made of natural fibres. They are stretchy and accommodating. They layer to follow the seasons.

Yes. I do.

But I have noticed – only gradually because I am slow to catch on  a 3-Part Phenomenon.

When something is required of me, a thing happens.

By ‘something’, I mean
  • a party
  • a speaking engagement
  • a preaching appointment
  • a funeral to conduct
  • a seminar to lead at a conference
  • a quiet day to conduct 

~ suddenly my clothes seem not enough (that’s Part 1). In response (Part 2), I start buying new clothes.

My clothes look very ordinary – boring, even – but I assure you, finding just the right things is not easy. Successful additions are not readily acquired. So then we come to Part 3 – after the event I develop an aversion to the new acquisitions – can’t bear them – don’t even want to look at them – refuse to put them by in case they come in handy in the future  and get rid of them. Because my clothes – my regular clothes – are the ones I want. I have enough.

And I realize, this is like one of those dreams – you know? Where you are out in the street or somewhere in the public eye, and you find you have no clothes on. You are naked. Caught out.

Everyone knows in these dreams the problem is psychological, not sartorial. The issue is about a feeling of inadequacy, not about the contents of your wardrobe.

And I see, this is what happens to me when something is required of me. My Top Mind (Mrs Collins) knows I can do it, and is keen to pursue the project, especially if it earns money. But my Underneath Mind (Ember, glowing under the ashes) is terrified, feeling unsupported and out of her depth. So Ember decides to get some dressing-up clothes that will hopefully allow her to pass off as Mrs Collins, and it all goes fine until afterwards – because she really only wants to be herself, not Mrs Collins at all.

I think for the future I’m going to turn down opportunities where I cannot be comfortable in my own skin. Because frankly they have earned me a pittance and cost me a fortune.

I am Ember, and I have enough.


Anonymous said...

Hi Penelope,
I have noticed the same thing, buying clothes because I feel inadequate to a task I must attend to but don't really want to do. Like traveling. Which i really dislike. Or selling myself which is what I call it because that is what it feels like (networking which is what it's actually called) that I have to do for work. Exhausting. Humiliating. Lately, I have been concerned about my appearance because I have to to "sell" my image - on websites to promote my therapy practice so I can make a living. What Moms say when you are little is true, I guess. If you make "that face" it will stay that way! I was never a smiler, and now in my sixties my grumpy face precedes me into every encounter I have. Been trying to smile more now. Praying God will help lighten my countenance.

Chantal said...

It sounds as if we are in the same boat torn between to have and not have, because we have the choice. Many people in the world don't have the choice. Everything is too easy to get without much effort, just some money.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi DMW - yes, networking asks a lot of the human spirit! I like your prayer. xx

Hi Chantal - yes indeed - for so many people in the world simplicity or even absolute poverty and deprivation is their daily reality.

Deborah said...

Just wear the clothes you are comfortable wearing to the parties/speaking engagements etc...problem solved :-D That's all I would do. People can take me as they find me if that's a problem, it's their problem, not mine.

Suze said...

I have always hated the fuss that seems to go with clothes right from when I was very small. My knickers were scratchy and made from dad's old shirts. The kids at school used to tease me because this was rare in the early 70's. Mum made almost everything and it meant many fitting with pins. Pins that stab and hurt. As an adult I still avoid much to do with clothing. But my jeans are falling down and ill fitting. I far prefer to buy to fit but I even hate shopping. Meanwhile my mother is always after me to buy more. At present my clothing overwhelms me and hopefully, soon, I will be able to cull the wardrobe.

I am so pleased that you share your ideas and ways you cope and live within your plans.

Pen Wilcock said...

Ah, yes, Debs - that sounds like common sense!

Hi Suze - there have been so many things in your life for you to process and come to terms with; other people's burdens to carry. Recently, I think when I was reading Greg McEowan's book 'Essentialism' (?), I came across the perspective that we should respect other people's property and not appropriate it as our own - and that includes their problems. Perhaps it is time for your mother to mind her own business. I hope you manage to find your way to a peaceful, comfortable, pleasing set of clothes that fits perfectly and makes you feel at home in what you wear. xx

kat said...

Oh yes! Just be you dear thing xxx

Jen Liminal Luminous said...

every time I cut my clothes down to this I find the problem of not being able to wash and dry them fast enough, I do need a clean top everyday in this weather, not least because at least twice a day I go out walking with the dog. One of those walks tend to be get changed into dog walking clothes, with a merino t-shirt so I can wear it several days without it smelling, but even so I do need a clean top each day. I'm a bit of a sweaty betty. When I used to run I would stay red for a couple of hours afterwards, and even after swimming I stay bright red for an hour of so.

but yes, if I get suddenly called to do something which doesn't fit with me, I feel like I need new clothes. But now I have a nice top and a nice pair of trousers for when I am called on for something nice. The rest of the time I am ok as I am, for the most part. But I do feel like this is an area riddled with issues...

Pen Wilcock said...

Kat ~
Today, we were by the ocean. I didn't take my swimmers, because the pebbles are sooo painful, and I thought, Oh I won't go in. And then all the others were swimming in the sea, and I very NEARLY thought, well who cares about these strangers on the shore nearby, I'm going to take off everything and just be me - me and the sea. But I didn't. I just thought it.

Jen ~ oh yes. More issues than Vogue.
Are you coming to my September quiet day? Just so you know, I think it will be the last one I do. And oddly I think my inner mind must have known this, since the subject I chose for the day is "Turning out the lights". xx

Suze said...

Pen I would love to visit you on a Quiet Day. It is just so far. The sad thing is that I have the last of may travel insurance for the year. I would dearly go to England for more than a few days. My daughter is expecting my first grandchild in late September. I went shopping for a pair of shoes today because I ruined mine over the weekend. I only bought pair. One in and one out.

I love the story of you day by the ocean. I hate my present swimmers and have just purchased medium length black leggings for when I walk in the pool. I hope you day was refreshing for you all. God bless.

Pen Wilcock said...

How exciting that your daughter's baby is coming in September, Suze! Blessings on that birth, peace and good health to mother and child. xx

Anonymous said...

I have a new job starting in September and I'm certainly in a panic about needing new clothes which are smart enough and "me" enough.

Julie B. said...

I am drawn to the colors of your clothing. I could live in navy, black and gray.

I would like to visit your Quiet Day.

God bless you and all of yours, dear Ember. xoxo

Pen Wilcock said...

Anonymous ~ exactly ~ that thing. I hope all goes well and you enjoy your new role. x

Julie B ~ yes. And the deep wine red; and also a colour, hard to find, called "Indian teal" - a very deep shade of teal. When a dear friend was training as a colour consultant, she 'did' my colours for me, and I came out as a jewel autumn. Daring tones of brilliant strong blue-green and red-orange and gold/mustard suit me best of all. The trouble is, they don't suit my personality. I need the quiet ones. The vibration of the bright colours wears me out. I got a top on eBay recently, at an almost giveaway price from a private seller. In the photos it was that deep, quiet Indian teal. When it came, it was a strong, vibrant peacock blue. Looked brilliant on me, but went straight to the charity shop. I just have to be clothed in quietness, left in peace.
Oh - I wish you could come to our quiet day. It would be perfect to have you there, and you'd love the retreat centre. xx

Deborah said...

My favourite colours to wear are navy blue and white and I'm happiest in a blue skirt and white T-shirt but my T-shirts are also red, pink, emerald, bright blue, denim blue, lilac and burgundy. I do have a yellow T-shirt but I only usually wear it with my green skirt. A couple of mine aren't strictly 'winter' colours but they make me happy :-D

Pen Wilcock said...

Well, that makes sense to me - I have all plain dark bottoms - black skirt or black trousers, and any variation of colour on the top. Do you wear patterns, Deb, or just solid colour? My tops are *all* Evans long-sleeved basic t-shirts - they have crew necks, so are modest, but the kind of low crew that doesn't rise up and grab you round the throat (my profile icon photo shows what I mean). x

Deborah said...

Although predominately solid colours I used to be a bit of a patterned person but nice 80s pretty flowery patterns. I have yet to see patterned fabrics these days that look nice. Most of them are hideous (for clothes, not crafts) So many outfits I see people in I think, 'why on earth did the manufacturer think that was a good choice?!' So I'm totally plain, either Evans or Cotton Traders and I have 3 skirts, a blue cord skirt, a red skirt and that green cotton you sent me. I think I have about 14 T-shirts at the moment...4 of them are white :-D

Pen Wilcock said...

How peaceful. That sounds lovely. x

Rapunzel said...

"Because my clothes-my regular clothes-are the ones I want."

Yes--that is also my feeling exactly!
When I got the boss lady job I needed new clothes, because frankly my little collection of faded dresses I sewed in 2007 do not suit the role of boss lady. Then because I was the boss lady and moved up to working full days five days a week I hadn't time to shop for good fabrics and sew a new set of clothes.
To solve the dilemma I found good seamstresses and ordered some skirts and blouses and jumpers that I can mix and match, and on one level they've served the purpose well enough. They keep me covered decently. But in two years of wearing them they don't feel like me. You'd think I'd have gotten over that, but no.
Consequently I've found some good homespun cloth in quiet colors and begun sewing simple dresses from my old pattern of a decade ago. Two done so far, and I'm awfully happy with them already. When I've gotten the whole lot sewn then all the boughten skirts and blouses can go to the thrift store and be found by someone they suit!!!

I love, love, love to look at pictures of pretty clothes, all colors, all kinds. But my real clothes are the ones I want.

Pen Wilcock said...

Ah ~ cotton homespun ~ the best fabric *ever*. I love it. Send me pics when you've made a dress (you still have my email address?) x

Rapunzel said... I don't have your email address. I have your house address ; )

Pen Wilcock said...

I think I have yours. Oh. No, I can no longer find it. I used to have it.


rebecca said...

Happened to me - again. Just like you described
I actually DO need a new (different) black skirt and gray skirt as the two I have are beginning to "bead" as I call it. SO difficult to find suitable length and washable fabric in a skirt these days. Not to MENTION realistic cost!

Pen Wilcock said...

Oh yes - I haunt eBay, waiting for garments in the brand, fabric, size, cut and colour I like (with long sleeves!) to come up second-hand at prices I am prepared to pay!