Saturday, March 8, 2014

On attaching to other's views about me

I noticed myself becoming attached to how she viewed me.

It started with a simple comment.

"Writers are lonely. In fact, I read that you can't write UNLESS you are lonely."

She unleashed this comment with heat, hurling it in my direction accusingly.

She knows how much I love to write. It's my one true passion. I cannot stop myself from doing it, in fact, I get withdrawal symptoms when I cannot unfurl my thoughts onto a blank screen or page. But I am NOT lonely when I write.

Well, not usually.

I'm not a lonely person who writes. I'm a person who writes and sometimes feels lonely and these are two completely different things! How shitty it feels to have the sum total of your humanity with all the complex emotions and drives reduced to a single state of piteousness.

So I bristled when she said that. Words began to rise up in my mind like a tidal wave gathering strength to crush the incorrect stereotype.

"Everyone is different," I wanted to say. "Everyone has their own motivation; understanding one doesn't mean it explains another." Isn't this obvious?!!? I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and pace, citing varying examples of writers as if presenting my impassioned case to an unconvinced jury. I knew I would win.

But I didn't say anything. I didn't even move. All this happened behind a stony facade. And while I was cooking up an acceptable reply (one less excited than I imagined), I suddenly realized that I was getting this worked up simply because I was tightly tied to her ideas about me. I wanted to control what she thought. I was heavily invested in how she viewed me.

I wanted the adjectives to fit, to be "right" and she had it wrong. I wasn't that way at all.

It feels so terrible to be misunderstood. The urge to correct others about ourselves is so strong.

I want to think that I don't care what others think, but I do, and here is proof. (Granted, she's my mom, but still.) Bumping up against the friction of what she thinks of me versus what I think, what does it matter? Will she actually change her view?

In the history of fucking time, when has someone ever said accusingly, "You are XYZ!" and the reply, "I am not!" ever resulted in, "Oh I am sorry, I guess you were right."?


And so I let it go.

Let her think I am lonely.

It feels lonely to be misunderstood, anyway. Close enough.

(Sent from my phone)


  1. Writers can never control how what they've written is understood.
    On the other hand, you get to understand some of your reader by their response.

  2. Many find their own way to understand the(ir) world is to use familiar labels or in other words put people in (pre-labeled) boxes. I do not think that you need to defend yourself to anyone. You are certainly, and uniquely you.