"Biting Back takes a compelling look at self-care, setting boundaries, and protecting ourselves from friends, loved ones, enemies, and sometimes even ourselves. Written in a page-turning and warm style, Claudia’s refreshing addition to the self-help shelves offers empowering solutions to effectively remind us to stop inviting troubleinto our homes and souls." -- MELODY BEATTIE, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF CODEPENDENT NO MORE



We all know that a vampire can't see its own reflection, of course -- Dracula was in fact angered by the sight of mirrors (how symbolically delicious, can you get?) -- and most of us have tried so hard and so fruitlessly to get our own vampires to "see themselves" as to be utterly convinced of the truth of this fact. So I know that I needn't go on and on about vampires and their reflections; I'm pretty sure we all get it.


There's another aspect to all this reflection business that I do fear gets missed sometimes, and it has to do with what we, as hosts, sometimes see when we look into the mirror.

Stephen King wrote the sweetest, most heartbreaking scene in 'Salem's Lot that addresses this subject, where the mother of a little vampire boy talks about how she perceives her own reflection in the mirror. Her thirsty little boy has been visiting and feeding on her for a while, and although she's not a vampire herself yet, she's certainly feeling the effects of his appetite: she's tired, weak, confused, and doesn't want to go out of the house. At one point she says to her husband (and I paraphrase here), "I looked in the mirror last night and I could almost see through my reflection, it was so pale."

Talk about symbolic deliciousness and heartbreaking metaphors!

Lately I've been listening to stories (including my own) about how it feels to do things for our loved ones that go unnoticed and without acknowledgement of any kind. You know the stuff I'm talking about -- the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, the vacuming, the shopping, the patient listening and understanding -- all that stuff we do that so often gets taken for granted. I mean, just hearing that someone (ahem!) liked the dinner we made last night might be nice for a change.

Or not making and spilling popcorn all over the livingroom after I've just finished cleaning the kitchen and vacuming the livingroom might perhaps be another way of saying "I care." In case anyone was wondering.

Absence of acknowledgement and absence of gratitude: they're vampires that can make us feel invisible, like we're not even here.

Sigh. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I can almost see through my reflection...it's so pale.

Tell me, Slayers: Is there anything that makes you feel invisible?


Sherri said...

When I'm talking and the kids just talk right over me. But there I can't say I'm invisible, because they're talking to me. Well, I guess it's my needs and opinions that are invisible, and that's the same thing, isn't it?

It's gotten a lot better since I started taking what I need instead of waiting for someone to offer it.

It's funny you mention popcorn. We had a popcorn incident not more than an hour ago.

claud said...

Yes, sometimes I take what I need by being the one at dinner to say, "So, this is pretty good, isn't it? -- All you guys have to say is, 'yes!'" But it's not as fulfilling as I'd like!

(Popcorn incident?)

Sherri said...

I do the same thing. "So, what do you think of the meal?" wink wink :D

So I gave the kids popcorn for a nutritious afternoon tv snack. Next time I checked on them it looked like it had snowed in the den. The big kids had left the 3yo with the bowl, and of course she spilled it on the floor. I swear I'd been gone ten minutes, if that!

Dancer said...

I've been struggling with this issue at work. For weeks, I was blatantly invisible to my boss. I finally sat him down and discussed it and it got better. But it was like confirming with everyone that the dinner is good, it becomes a somewhat bittersweet victory. I don't know about you, and of course, it's different with a job than with a family, but it definitely brings out the worst in me. Makes me want to turn around and walk away without a second glance.

claud said...

Yes, Dancer, that's the problem -- how my resentments can bring out the least-productive, most destructive impulses in me...thank God for friends who listen and for my (sometimes) ability to pause before acting and consider my possible choices about how to respond with trusted friends!

And the victory's ARE sometimes bittersweet, as you say, but they beat the heck out of staying mad for me!

claud said...

Note to the Big Kids: CLEAN THAT UP!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I have a vampire in my life that I think I'm trying to get to "see himself", but let me tell you what I mean.
She may ask me to help clean her attic, something I don't really want to do, but as the very willing host, I try to get the point across by doing these things:
--holding my back as if to say "see how hard I've worked and maybe I should stop?"
--Man, look at the time, I haven't had dinner yet, I better go home", etc.
I think that comments and gestures like this should get my point across.i.e see what you're doing to me? Haven't I done enough to help you?
I'm not terribly effective. Some words to use to this vampire?

Anonymous said...

Is everyone either a vampire or not a vampire?

claud said...

These last two are such great questions that I'm going to address them in individual posts.

THANKS, Anonymouses!!!

funforager said...

I certainly feel invisible at work when the problem I have been identifying and troubleshooting for some time gets ignored. Then, a few weeks later, someone comes up with my solution and everyone says, yeah, lets get on that. After awhile I am grateful for the changes but I have to pout about my invisibility for awhile.

jennifer said...

I love that image of the mother becoming too pale to even see herself...

I think everyone feels invisible, sometimes. It's inevitable that our needs/wants/perceptions of how things should go, won't always be met. What I think is most important is this: do we consistently go back and CHOOSE these scenarios, again and again? That, to me, is the crux. If we value ourselves enough to say, Okay! Time to speak up, or time to do something different here!

pvs said...

Yes, Jennifer: time to speak up, do something different, or realize that I'm choosing the status quo -- that I'm not a victim, rather a person who chooses to feed my vampire today. We all have our own vampires -- no need to feel funny about them when we recognize our choice, as you say!