02 December 2010

Prompt of the day: What keeps me from writing?

I listen to Talk of the Nation on NPR a lot and today's, if you didn't already hear it, was about bullying. Lots of different people reported different things, one that someone had found him on facebook and apologized for long ago bullying, another who was on facebook and a bully got in touch and started bullying her all over again (horrors). One woman said she realized that she was so angry and scared all the time about being bullied that she had become a bully toward other people, always ready to go off if they didn't do what she expected. That resonated with me. And then the host read from someone's email, I think, and it described a person's path to better living after having survived the hell of bullying and the author was very apologetic for having taken all that anger and fear out on others for so long. I really felt a jolt of recognition then about things I've both struggled with and their costs, the tolls those misplaced emotions have taken in my life, on my friendships.

Another thought: I had a conversation with my mother not so very long ago, that set off such a series of ripples for her. It seemed like a trivial thing. I said, "Not everyone likes creamy food," when my mom was making something or talking about some kind of food my daughter was less than enthused about. My mother could hardly believe it! Someone who doesn't like creamy food? What? The very idea was unthinkable at first. We talked about it for days! And that conversation went on to reverberate for a while and later morphed into one about mind-reading. I said to my mother at one point, "I can't read your mind. You have to tell me what you want." And she just looked at me. Really? As if she'd never quite realized we were that different from one another, different enough to have separate perspectives on the same thing. I feel like there's something in having been habitually underestimated or underprotected as kids that makes us all so defensive and sometimes angry about not being understood, as if we feel it is part of a grand conspiracy and this present communication breakdown is further proof of our being at the ground zero of misunderstanding.

So I hope it makes sense when I say that fear of being misunderstood is a cause of procrastination for me, and yet is also one of my biggest motivators for writing down what I am thinking.

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