Opinions can be like scabs, sometimes they’re reinforced and smoothed over nicely, and other times they crack due to outside forces, they can even be ripped off by others (insert pun,) and, there is always something supporting them. I’ve mentioned before how individual opinions are based on their unique backgrounds, furthermore, I would like to add that sometimes those independent experiences cause us to become judgmental, or lacking in empathy. According to a few others, my writing does just that, from their perspective, I’m compassionless. Huh? So, that’s got me thinking, and well, I love to think, and I thrive on communicating my thoughts publically.
In addition, an important person in my life told me that I use the reactions from my blog as a sort of scab, or bridge to my emotions. What I think she meant was I use them as a cover for my emotions. I gauge the intensity and then recoil if I’m feeling misunderstood, or I forge ahead when I’m feeling attacked. (Not a bad tactic for war, but I’m not sure how well those behaviors serve me in writing.)
Obviously this has been an ongoing theme for a few weeks and my reflection has changed like a shape-shifter moving in and out of form. However, the image that doesn’t go away is what my therapist (here I go again) calls my “Healthy Defiance!” Girl, do I love that phrase! It just tickles me shocking pink! I’ve never thought of myself as rebellious, I would say I have an autonomous spirit! To me autonomous sounds less severe than defiant! The positive spin on unsightly behaviors really intrigues me, “Healthy Defiance, Refreshingly Honest,” I’m feeling inspired to come up with my own, how about “Pleasantly Sarcastic!” Yes, that’s how I’d describe my insecure, edge!
So here’s what I’ve learned after spending hours contemplating not only the perceived negative reactions to my writing, but also the ones that feel positive, and to the non-reactions: (those are the worst by far) proceed with awareness! For example, how can I say what I’m really thinking without offending anyone? Should I just do what I want, and say it anyway, or would that only work against me? I surmise for now that a little lesson in tact wouldn’t be so bad, and that I should look for ways to be more empathetic towards my readers.
Here’s the part I like: you, my readers are on this journey with me and I’m always telling you exactly what I’m thinking as we go along. In as much, yes, I do wonder how my mother would feel if she read some of my stuff. I’m interested and concerned about how much it would affect her, but I’m more preoccupied with what’s best for me. One person has already asked me not to write about them anymore. I wasn’t even saying anything hurtful, and it was more about me, but they didn’t like it. (I see it is as a form of flattery, but they didn’t.) I’m still struggling with this one but they are ancillary to my story anyway.
In addition, another person is trying to prevent me from writing about my kids; they are a part of me so I don’t think that’s possible. For me that’s like telling a painter not to paint her child or a photographer who is unable to photograph their child, or a musician silenced in the name of their child.
I don’t claim to know exactly what I’m doing, other than healing myself and trying to understand myself better. I’m not sure what to think if I’m somehow hurting myself in the process. (Or, again, as my therapist would say, “Is it in my best interest?” And so far, I keep coming up with YES; yes it’s in my best interest. Even if I’m temporarily distracted from my self-proclaimed mission, my curiosity draws me back for more like a strong narcotic.
Do you, like some other people wonder why I don’t just write all this mumbo-jumbo down in a diary? Well, to me that just wouldn’t be the same for two reasons. One, I need the interaction, the feedback, whether good or bad, I like to know how I’m affecting people. And two, I still say what’s the problem with it anyway? Don’t we all have our fair share of imperfections? I know by exposing mine, I am helping other people become more comfortable with their own. Call me narcissistic, self-righteous, etc, but it’s true; nobody likes to think they’re alone in all their ugliness, and I’m putting mine out there for everyone to see.
Would a diary be more compassionate for other people mentioned in my blog? Maybe. I’ve thought about it, and I feel prompted to at least shine a more pure light on them, and to be a little more respectful of those who asked me not to write about them. All of these questions and thoughts meander around impacting not only the subject matter of my weekly blog post, but they also serve as a way for me to polish my rusty, self-serving habits.
I’ve exposed many of my childhood wounds, (and there are more,) but now I want to practice sharing some of the renewed, thick skin that covers those sores. I’ll start with my “healthy defiance”; I’m going to claim it as a positive character trait! My mother, in all her craziness, taught me a tremendous lesson, in fact, an invaluable discipline, she taught me how to think independently! I was faced with challenges of a mature nature before I was emotionally equipped to make the best choices. As a child I was sent out into the world to fend for myself before I was ready, but I always figured it out. And usually the compelling force of survival impacted the decisions I made, which were obviously selfish by nature. Having such freedom at an early age somewhat gave me a sense of entitlement, like hey, I’ve made it thus far, now stop trying to control me. That doesn’t mean I forever make the best choices, because I’ve made a lot of terrible ones, but I never appreciated any interference in the process. Bodes well for a teenager, let me tell you! I’m lucky to be alive! (Said in my “Pleasantly Sarcastic” voice!)
The unruly part of me that complements unadulterated honesty is also a favorable (at least to me) consequence of the “over-sharing” of her circumstantial adult relationships. Notice how I used the word “adult,” I was a child then, and now I’m an adult writing for mature audiences. (There’s my healthy defiance again!) I like my intense, in your face honesty and I appreciate my mother for arming me with such a truthful craft. She is the queen-pin of refreshing honesty, and it’s entertaining as hell! (As a teen I was mortified.) She’ll walk into the grocery store and by the time she leaves she’s told two or more people, plus the checkout clerk that she’s on anti-anxiety meds for her panic attacks. (Like they couldn’t figure that one out?) She can turn the dry tear fountain on faster than Scarlett O’Hara, and she has no problem doing it within five seconds of asking a stranger what their spouse does for a living.
One of my favorite lines from her comes from the time she stole a whole chicken from Publix. She had money in her wallet but she decided to stuff a pack of cut-up Tyson leg, and breast parts in her pocket book. Well, of course she got busted with the juicy styrofoam hanging out of her bag. I can just picture her frosted hair cut in feathers leftover from the eighties, and in her keds, headed for the exit. I’m certain she was completely obvious, and probably with a “I dare you stop me look on her face!” I can’t imagine the manager keeping it together when they confronted her and she said, “Publix is a huge corporation, what’s the harm in one missing chicken?” I would have lost it-that still cracks me up. I get her point, and to some degree she’s right, but it’s against the law and she learned that lesson the hard way. But that’s how she rolls; she’s notorious for breaking rules and then wondering why she’s in trouble.
My mother is smart (but only when deemed necessary,) funny, generous, playful, loves animals, and she has a very sweet, warm-hearted side too. Her generosity is intriguing, she’s like a broke Robin Hood, taking from everyone else to give to those with less than her-which wasn’t much. She’d go to the Baptist church, or hit up her mother for a little “aid” money and buy a less fortunate woman a pack of smokes. If there is anyone who can attract the down and out, or needy, it’s my mother.
Speaking of the needy, there wasn’t a time I brought an animal home that couldn’t stay. I brought home a stray dog from the river, cats galore, a salamander, a few goldfish, and birds. I knew that rodents and snakes were off limits. It didn’t matter that we hovered right above poverty level, because we were always better off than something or somebody else, and she was ready to help. I liked knowing that I didn’t have to sneak pets into the house, nor did I ever worry that she’d take them to a shelter. Eventually all of our animals died tragic, stereotypic deaths. One my feral orange tabby kittens (climbed up into the engine of her station wagon (with wood on the side) and died when she cranked the car. Another one of my cats with sleek, long silver hair, and a broad white chest (Rocky Raccoon) was shot by Lena’s step-dad after he’d killed one of the chickens. One of our Dobermans (Lady) was stolen, and the other one (Queenie) ran off. She put our last Doberman, my Doberman (Sharky) that my dad had given me for Christmas, to sleep because he kept escaping and roaming the neighborhood killing cats. I never cried once over the loss of a pet, but my mother cried after each episode. She wanted us to be able to have pets, we were just never able to take good care of them. Like most of us, she meant well, but sometimes she didn’t make the right choices.
I’ve had an interesting time thinking about her today, and it feels good to examine a few of the reasons why I love her. I am grateful for the pearls in my life’s shell, for without them there wouldn’t be an ocean for me to write about. I have so many great stories I’m dying to share, but it just takes a while to get there. Growing up with my mother was a grand, but scary adventure, and one that molded me to become the person I’m struggling to be today.
Again, I appreciate your support, and thanks for staying with me as I figure things out along the way. I hope you’ll keep coming back for more, and that you’ll share my story with others. Take care of your loved ones, Shannon