Monday, May 14, 2007


A new blog challenge (kind of like a meme) from Martha:

Words can be powerful. Think of an occasion when someone blessed you with their words. (Conversely, words can be powerfully hurtful, too. Write about one of those instances if you must, but try to think of a positive memory instead.) Describe the circumstances surrounding the words that were powerful to you. Who said it? How did you react? How does it affect you today.
Normally I would jump at the chance to write about something funny and entertaining. But I've been wrestling with words and their meaning a lot in the last week. Maybe because mother's day was so recent, maybe because of some conversations with different family members that recently happened, I don't know? But I've been thinking about the words I said to my mother, almost 18 years ago in a family therapy session and how those words have impacted her. I've been reevaluating the benefit of confronting those who have hurt you. Does it really do any good, can it do more harm? I'm not exactly feeling guilty. I wasn't intending to hurt I was just addressing my hurt. It was rehearsed and approved by the therapist. The therapeutic session was beneficial to me; I realized that my step-father argued with my mother about her decision to give up custody of us (always good to know that the "steps" aren't always evil) and my mother explained that it had nothing to do with me or my typical nine year old behavior (for the longest time I struggled with the idea I wasn't good enough, which pretty much landed me in the eating-disorder clinic where the therapy session happened). So this was all helpful to me, but what did it do to my mother? I think she convinced herself she made the best decision for all of us; she did have two new babies to take care of, a new marriage, a new business, a new town. I hated living in Miami and I missed my father in Denver. All of these things translated to her that she was making a sacrificial decision in my sister's and my behalf. It translated a bit differently to me. Did me exposing my hurt and feelings of abandonment make her question her decision? Question her ability to mother? Was it at that moment she began to wrestle with guilt that has slowly eaten away at her and has made her more of a shell of a person? Someone who doesn't laugh as much? Cry as much? Doesn't feel as much? Someone who is in a self-induced protected shell. Was this just the last straw in a series of painful moments in her life? Did what I say to her that day effect how she mothered my brothers from that point on (they would have been young teens at the time).
Words can be powerful. They can make you cry, they can produce patriotic fervor, they can make you laugh. But silence.......silence, the silence in the moment before you speak the words, the moment when you think am I doing harm or good with these words? The silence when you choose NOT to say the words that could change a person's life for the worse. Silence before you say the words that are swarming in your head in the midst of anger. Silence can be so much more powerful.


Martha said...

Yes, knowing when it is right to speak up and out is often way more difficult than we can imagine. But, in the end, you said what you needed to say to heal and to move forward. That whole "two sides to every story": your story is one of happiness, speaking and hearing some truths allowed you to move towards a healthier self. Yet, while those words may have hurt her, they were necessary for you to move forward.

And I'm so glad you did! Cause then you wouldn't be livin' the dream here in the Burbs with all of us! (got to end it on a sort of happy note, right?)

Colleen O said...

Second guessing is no fun. Why do we do it so much? For what it's worth, I think if she wants to be stuck, she will be stuck. It shouldn't keep you from moving past it, now or then.

On a lighter note, your supposition would mean we should give the PP's (or AM's) among us the green flag. Telling them that they're really horrid hateful lying freaks would mess with their pseudo-reality of their own perfection. See, that can't be right.
Therefore, you must speak your peace when called upon to do so!
Good night, and good luck

valiens said...

Angh. That's some good questioning.

You know, that session may be something you think of as a turning point, and indeed it may have been one for both of you, but it may also be about your awareness of your mother, her decisions, and the emotional consequences of them for her. It might be irritating to think of it that way, but it crossed my mind. Maybe I'm off.

A friend once said to me that no one can make you feel anything. You're the one who feels, therefore only you can make your feelings. Others may do things you like or dislike, but your reaction, even emotionally, is yours. Hard talk, and I needed it at the time, but I think ultimately it freed me, because I realized words were just that, and sometimes saying them took power away from the unspoken stuff and gave insight where I wouldn't even have looked.

Of course silence has its merits, and at the same time being a mother is hard, and your kids don't always hold back. That's part of being a mother.

Your work shows. I'd say it's good stuff.