Ways I Knew My Mother Was in Denial: John Watson Told Me So

My mother told me once to be nice to a bully. We were sitting in the front seat of her car, and I was in 2nd grade. She had her hair in a french braid, and had gold hoop earrings in, and put her hand over mine as she leaned over the travel coffee mug between us. “You don’t know what happens in her home, Brittany. It might have nothing at all to do with you.” She smiled at me, my mother did…this sad sort of smile. Like she’d opened the door to a world of reality that she’d hoped I’d never face. But I’d have to face it, and my mother wanted me armed with kindness. I’m grateful to her for that.

I think of Jeannette Walls and her truth, and how fair it was. I will fail in that regard. I am not a naturally fair person. I am kinda judgy-faced. I wish I weren’t, but it is one of my many shortcomings. I work at it, but judgement seeps into my life. I will try to be fair. I will try to channel the scientist within, and just observe. It isn’t good or bad, it simply is.

I feel closer now than ever before. It’s a confused sort of feeling…less crowded than I’d imagined. I feel streamlined. My mind flows smoothly, without hitch or hiccup. The downside seems to be the depression of it all. The constant motions give way to an idle mind. And upon reflection, I’m sad. I’m also angry. Furious, in fact. Fascinatingly furious.

I’m a true packrat, with small statements of fact that I’ve gathered, charted, and promptly filed away without a second glance. Now with whole minutes between higher brain powers being needed at work, I have nothing with languid thoughts. Between waiters, moving sideways, I sift through ideas to keep busy. To keep engaged. To stay afloat in this time and place that is so far from where I thought I’d be. My mind streams in ways that might make a Dalloway proud…three waters, two teas. Three waters, two teas. I miss sweet tea and my home. I miss my teeth aching from the taste of home. But now judgement.

That train of thought was interrupted by judgement, and my second guessing of a word, theme, idea, and/or/all of such things. This is why nothing comes out to a post. This is why I have started saving papers again. I re-read and it kills.

When I was younger, I only wrote and never read. One unhappy side effect of college was the lesson to re-read. If only one could edit without judgement, and thus write without self-doubt.

My mother always believed in me as a writer. I remember standing at the foot of her bed, in Whittier. It was while she was getting ready for work, and I was at home. Summer, I think? I was playing with Chloe’s tail and a cat toy, talking about Brenda and Leslie (a novel idea of mine). My mom went to the bathroom to put on her makeup. I moved into the bathroom doorway, and we kept eye contact, eyelash curlers framing her right eye, then her left. The feminine monocle of our time. She paused at her left eye to smile at me, and told me that one day I was gonna be on Oprah talking about my books and ideas. That memory was my first thought when I heard that Oprah was going off the air. lol

“Be kind; Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” -John Watson

The battle I fought was unseen. It is more public now than ever before in my life, and there have been rough seas and levees. It’s a hard battle. But the kindness of those who know…it lessens the chill of the wind. It brightens the fire, and keeps me going stronger. After almost two decades of battle, I am finally winning, after all. 🙂

However, there are two sides to every bilateral object. Where kindness has made me strong, prior years of neglect and abuse left me weak.

I’m not weak now.

At home, when I was working with W.E.L.L., I mentioned my abuse history on a daily basis. Most often it was to strangers. I am no longer surprised to meet other survivors of rape or incest. (How sad is that?) I am more surprised when I don’t hear “me too” from the other person. Too many of us are fighting the same battle. And we’re not getting enough kindness.

I’ve seen it affect people when I share. I’ve watched it happen. I can only imagine what someone sharing might have done for me.

As I grow more, I think more about Ani’s line, “if you’re not getting happier as you get older/then you’re fucking up”. I can’t be doing that badly. On a graph scale of happiness over time, I am doing better.

What Christina once told me about why she went into her line of work, about wanting to give back-that makes more sense, too.

I better post this, before I go back and start editing myself. Besides, bedtime was 96 minutes ago. I suck at sleeping at night.

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One thought on “Ways I Knew My Mother Was in Denial: John Watson Told Me So

  1. Judgement of others is necessary to live life. Without the ability to judge, the victim and the bully would be equally deserving of moral praise.
    Do not judge them by thier words, thoughts, or appearance. Judge them by thier actions. It is only by our actions that we can directly impact the reality of others.
    Words are nothing more than air vibrations, unless you value the person saying them. Praise from a Jester is as meaningless as his insult.

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