My mom will mix up my and my sisters names is talking to us. She’s done it since we were kids, and we usually get a giggle. Every once in a while, though, I’ll call Thing1 Thing2 or vice versa. The giggles ensue, followed by a rejoinder of, “You’re becoming Grandma!“
This morning I wondered if I really am becoming my mother, and today that possibility, rather causing concern about my mental faculties, gave me comfort.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to be a writer,” I said to a friend, explaining that there are times when I change or don’t write things at all, even if someone has hurt me because writing – or even speaking – too candidly would damage relationships permanently. So I hold back – at home, at work, in life.
And, often, I think “I’m becoming my mother.”
Growing up, I remember watching my mom hold her tongue in arguments which she could have ‘won’ or at least fought more valiantly with a quick retort (answers I was often dreaming up as I listened). I would tell my sister that I wished Mom would “fight” more when we heard stories of a person who was making her worklife miserable. But now I’m starting to realize Mom wasn’t cowering. She was letting the words slide off the armor she had built up, keeping and even gained friendships as she navigated situations.
This morning my friend mentioned that she walks that same line at times. She recounted a conflict in which a dear friend had said hurtful things to a family member. She knew she could confront the friend but that it would irrevocably damage the friendship, so she kept the peace and navigated the situation between both people as best she could, ultimately preserving the friendship and the family.
The first rule of writing is being authentic. It is infusing words with so much honesty and life that when you prick the page it bleeds. I tend to bite my tongue, sometimes until it bleeds. The irony, of course, is that often my contortions to do no harm are miscommunicated and/or misinterpreted and cause hurt anyway, but still I bite. Sometimes, when my tongue is sore enough, I paint. It gets a lot of thick color on the canvas, but it makes for a lousy writer. But, hopefully, someday, it will help me become more like my mother in the best way.