So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

02 November, 2007

Tell It To Me Straight

So I continue with this therapy dealie. This past session was spent largely on stories about my mother, at least one of which visibly horrified the shrink. (I may not have told that one here. I'll tell it another time.)

One of the ones I told was when I learned I couldn't trust her. Which ... what almost horrifies me now as an adult was that I knew this from the age of seven or eight or so, whenever this story happened, and yet I kept trying. Kept offering her things to break to see if she was going to break them again, like she always did. Kept giving her opportunities and being hurt when it didn't work out well. (And the shrink says that that sort of faith is good and human, but that doesn't make it not feel like a horror movie in retrospect -- don't open that door, you know the monster is behind that door, can't you hear the cellists?)

Anyway. At seven or eight I was seriously considering running away from home. I planned it thoroughly, in the oddly myopic way that kids do things -- I didn't have plans on where to go, I figured I'd go to a friend's house and work from there, but I had charts and diagrams and lists and things plotted out in where I'd put my stuff in the little red wagon -- money in a particular corner under other things so nobody would steal it, this much space for clothes, these critical stuffed animals, and so on. Twenty or so pages of notes about this -- I was a meticulous kid about that sort of thing.

And in a fit of, I don't know, generosity or weakness or something, I confessed to my mother that I'd been thinking of this. And she comforted me, patted me, made all the right there-there-dear noises, and I thought that maybe I wouldn't need those pieces of paper after all, all those carefully laid plans.

That night at about eleven I decided I needed a drink, and crept downstairs to get one from the kitchen. I overheard my parents talking in the living room -- or rather, my mother declaiming and my father grunting. I slipped up towards the edge of the door to listen, and heard, in vicious, dismissing, sneering tones, "... gave me this bullshit about running away ..."

I stood there, shocked to the bone, and I don't remember anything else of the conversation. I considered, fleetingly, bursting in on them, defending myself; considered getting the evidence of all my planning and presenting it as proof; considered just vanishing that night, I think, or the next day, to show her. And then I crept back upstairs, full of the shock of my mother's support and gentleness being a veneer over that contempt, too afraid to make a noise of getting a drink and getting caught having potentially heard that savagery. If she had that much hatred in her when she thought I didn't know, what would she do if she thought I knew? What would she do if she knew I caught her lying to me, expressing care and sympathy, pretending to be a friend, while she harbored that level of disgust for what I confided?

It's one of those things that has reverberations down the line, echoing in the cavernous hollows of the spaces between people. I am not put at ease by the 'polite social lie', but rather quite the contrary; I also deflect the question rather than speak untruth, if answering it truthfully would be inappropriate. (I honestly have no idea whether this is related to my decision at about the same age to stop lying. They aren't related in my memory, but.) I am not capable of considering the misdirecting social corner-padding a kindness; it's just another way for me to doubt my senses, for me to find a reason to mistrust.

My liege and I had something of a fight this week, because he had the basic respect for me to tell it to me straight. And then we went and we damn well fixed it, because all the parts were laid out mostly in the clear. Which reminds me of back early on in our relationship, when I anxiously told him I had a temper and might blow up under stress, and got the response, "Good. Then we will fight efficiently." It was very efficient; he even held me for some of it, the bit where I got lost in the old mommy-issues tangle of what is real, whether memory can mean anything, all of that mess that's why I can't handle the pretending. Keeping the truth straight is plenty hard enough.


Daisy said...

Another possibility is that your mother was totally serious when she spoke to you, yet in the presence of a man, you were relegated to "bullshit"...

I'm sure one way I became a radical feminist was observing my mother turn into a whole nother person in the presence of men. Whatever passed between us in private was of no importance when the almighty DICK was in the room, you know? I was just fodder for stand-up comedy banter that she interspersed between songs her band played (in which she was the only woman and just loved it.)

Just offering that observation.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

That would be a sort of damage on top of her established pattern of taking any personal information she could get her hands on and turning it into a weapon for her convenience or amusement.

And not one I've seen any evidence of, either, given her attitude towards my father -- I know I've posted in the past about how she was entirely scornful of the fact that he treated me like a person.