My Inner Critic

I had just walked in the door from school, before I even opened the front door I could hear Mom yelling. I should have just walked away, but I could tell the yelling was coming from my room, and my 14 year old mind knew it had to have the last word.

Approaching from behind I thought I could sneak up on her, but the floorboards creaked and she spun on her foot to direct her rant at some place other than the wall. “What are these?” she yelled as a not so friendly greeting. “What are they?”

She held in her hands a lot of notes that I had written. To my mind there was nothing bad in them, maybe a bit personal, but nothing bad. “It looks like you read them all, so why don’t you tell me?” my mouth shot out before my brain could stop it.

Still screaming she quoted my carefully written cursive as to attest to the evil that laid in her hands.

“What’s the problem? Obviously I didn’t give them to him, so I don’t see a problem!”

Those words earned me a slap across the face, probably long after I deserved it for talking back, but my mind raced with a retort to her violent outburst, “You’re a bitch!” I screamed at Mom.

I think she was too mad to respond, if she had, I’m certain I wouldn’t have lived to tell the story. Oh, wait, she did kind of respond … she grabbed my head, held it toward the light and examined my eyes, “Are you high?”

No, I wasn’t, unless you count really pissed about my privacy being intruded upon as a high on life sort of thing.

For once I let her have the final word, “If you don’t want anyone to read it, then you shouldn’t write it.” The words have rang in my mind for decades. I often wonder how I can write what I write with that constant reminder. Last night it dawned on me, I can’t … sure, I can write facts, I might even make you laugh, but have I ever brought you to tears when I’ve written the facts? My guess is “no.” That’s because, as other writers have pointed out, I can’t get to the emotion, I miss it almost every time, unless it is humor.

Mom passed away eight years ago, and still her warning shadows everything that I write. Especially now that I am staying in her home. It is amazing how just a few words can inhibit someone’s abilities. So last night I sat down and wrote what I would say to her if she were still alive, “You are welcome to spend lots of time with me, but you are no longer welcome to read what I write. You are to critical … judgmental … overbearing.”

Since then I have approached tons of subjects that I feel I can write with emotion, but haven’t had time to write them. However, my list of memories has grown from 144 to 437 since last night. I have realized that this memory has crippled my ability to write for a long time, and maybe it is time that I get to have the final word.

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