Welcome to Day 24 of “30 Days of Brené Brown”!!
MERRRRRRY CHRISTMAS!!! I hope you are reading this in a nice and cozy blanket. It’s a good one and it unwraps before our eyes.
As a gift to me and to you, I’m going to make this one brief. Here is the quote:
Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Yup. Here is an excerpt from my post yesterday, which explains this better than anything I feel like putting together right now because I will own this: I’m just not in it at the moment. I’ve been writing these posts days in advance (my today is the 21st) so that I can travel this weekend to see my cousins and visit Mom’s grave site.
It’s like the post I wrote last Saturday, about nostalgia and how I found my mother’s notebook and the comment in her handwriting, block letters in fact, about me being “a bad kid.” (Please click here for that post as context helps.)
I was looking for something totally different. I was looking for comments about me in a loving way; about something that showed I was more than a one-dimensional figure (which is how I felt a lot of the time) in her life; that I was more than a foe of her lifestyle and a dependent “ingrate” (which is something I was termed as well) who stood in the way between her and her peace.
What I got was something TOTALLY different. I know Mom would do her best to explain the notes. I know I would’t accept it. Because she is most definitely NOT here, I have to do that for myself. I have to grow up. I have to allow her to be real if I am going to allow myself to be real. Even if her “real” does not align with my “real.” Who am I to say what is right or wrong? Y’dig? (I think I finally do.)
That’s right: I’ve hit a new desperate low by quoting myself.
What I mean by those last words, “I think I finally do” is that it hit me, at that moment when I wrote it, that I was probably quite wrong, when I felt all those years and decades and moments that my mom was not being real. That any affectations, air, pretense or defense mechanism was Quite Real — it was how she coped, and that just because her behavior didn’t align with conventional parenting, it didn’t make her any less real of a human being.
This is heavy and big for me. This is my gift to myself, several days early, but which you get to open, of Christmas.
We have no right.
We have no right to decide if someone is not being real. For years, I considered her a fake, and I even confronted her with it: “It’s hard to believe anything you say in moments like these; it feels like you’re just giving me what you think I want instead of what you’re really feeling! It’s soul stealing!” I would say, torn and riveted at the same time, my eyes and heart searching for something with friction to hold on to. I feel like she looked into my eyes to find it too.
Am I being cruel to her memory? Am I being unkind toward the dead? My mother? I can’t worry about that. She was a trained actress, she was an accomplished theater director, she knew intellectually how to drive a scene, position characters, create conflict, build a climax and how to blow minds. Sometimes she would weep during these moments of ours (boo! hoo! hoo! >look around, see if anyone is wondering< bew hew hew…) and it would sound so saccharine, it would feel so exploitative.
Because it was. But also, because it wasn’t. Who knows what was going on in her… I spent decades wondering. Perhaps her fear of being real WAS her Being Real.
We are all flawed, experience moments of insecurity, we might feel “damaged” or completely lost. Does that devalue our humanity? No. Doing so, walking in that air of devaluing others is judgment and it separates.
She was being real through all of it. It’s just that we didn’t like it. It made us feel less-than. It made us feel insignificant and puny. That’s when the claws came out.
This is big. It’s going to change my approach to my memoir in a profound way. I am so grateful for it. It means I can be fairer to us both; that even through my hurt and disappointment I can extend to her a baseline for her.
I feel like freakin’ Ebenezer Scrooge today. (And I’m still several days early!)
“I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings. “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
She was not perfect. I need to get over that. I so SO need to let that expectation go. I don’t know when I will. She was my mother; as I’ve said before: hers was the first and most melodious voice I ever heard. The secrets I must’ve heard, the joys she shared with me and the woes, worries and anxieties… Good Lord, this puts it ALL in a totally new perspective.
Who are we?! This is what comes of opening up and following the feelings.
Give yourself the gift today of feeling that — that liberty of granting someone else no expectations and moving on with whatever bullshit you’ve put in your and their way. I need a few moments to process this.
So yeah, go connect.
ps – so much for not being “in it at the moment.” yikes. this stuff just comes out whenever it wants.