recently, i read an essay by Meghan Daum that really struck me. i’m still processing the essay for it’s honesty not the details, although the details are beautifully written. substantiative. the essay’s unsettling because it’s horrifyingly honest if that makes any sense–and it makes sense to me.
here’s an excerpt:
If you asked me what my central grievance with my mother was, I would tell you that I had a hard time not seeing her as a fraud. I would tell you that her transformation, at around the age of 45, from a slightly frumpy, slightly depressed, slightly angry but mostly unassuming wife, mother, and occasional private piano teacher into a flashy, imperious, hyperbolic theatre person had ignited in her a phoniness that I was allergic to on every level. I might try to explain how the theatre in question was the one at my very high school, a place she’d essentially followed me to from the day I matriculated and then proceeded to use as the training ground and later backdrop for her new self. I might throw in the fact that she was deeply concerned with what kind of person I was in high school because it would surely be a direct reflection of the kind of person she was.
Thanks to my own need to please others and draw praise, my life in high school became a performance in response to my mother’s performance. When I saw her approaching in the hall I’d grab a friend by the elbow and throw my head back in laughter so she’d perceive me as being popular and bubbly. When I did poorly on a test I followed her advice and didn’t let on to anyone. Meanwhile she copied my clothes, my hair, my taste in jewellery, so much so that I started borrowing her things (they were exaggerated versions of my things: skirts that were a little too short, blazers with massive shoulder pads, dangling, art deco–inspired earrings) because it seemed easier than trying to pull together my own stuff.
it’s fucking hard to write CNF mostly because you’ve got to be honest and, let’s face it, it’s easier to avoid reality. rephrasing stories into anecdotes versus pulling apart what really happened. that process really opens you up, makes you vulnerable to difficult qualities you exhibit.
how much of an asshole are you?
here’s the link: