Humanity Inside Vanity

I don’t consider myself to be a superstar or celebrity. I’m an ordinary person.

What’s different is that I dared fight for my rights. I challenged the status quo. I rebelled the role of mental patient way back in 1990 when I dared to think I could have a better life than the one I was presented with. I didn’t want to collect SSI and live in a dangerous apartment complex on the edge of town for the rest of my life.

I was a creative, quirky young girl who listened to the Jesus and Mary Chain drowning her ears in Psychocandy until and after the day I needed real mind candy.

In the Zadie Smith link I offered last week, Zadie alluded to how an author sees each book in the rear-view mirror of her life when she was a different person writing it.

At 50, I’m drawn to the humanity inside the vanity.

Now I’m more interested in the beauty inside of us all. I wake at 3 a.m. and scan a fashion magazine. The Dolce & Gabbana dress reads per la mamma piu bella nel mondo. I know it is Italian for the most most beautiful mother in the world. At 50 I think it counts more that you can translate Italian into English than whether your face is wrinkle-free or you wear sunscreen every day.

I’m interested now in the stories of how women (and guys) put themselves together; like an author composes characters and their lives.

I also think: the goal is to get to 50 and be at a point where your illness doesn’t continue to dominate your life.

Now I differ from pop psychologists who urge everyone to “get happy” all the time every day. I’m the number-one fan of acting true to yourself. A person can be rude or crude and that could be who they are. So be it. That’s who they are.

Crafting characters in a novel is a gift. And like I wrote in here before truly seeing and observing and accepting and understanding how people are inside is a gift that we must hone.

The greatest gift we can give another person is to honor who they are.

The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to honor our nature.

Seeing the humanity inside the vanity: I’m all for this.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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