It was early in the visit, I think, and it took me a long time to try to figure out which words I should use. The words are always important, for I have found that if I choose wrong, or say it in the wrong way, or… people seem to think I am attacking them.
Not that my mom responds in that way, but enough people do that it has become a major concern every time I want to ask or say anything of any importance to me.
Was I good at anything as a child?
What was I good at when I was young?
Was there ever anything I was especially good at?
Who was I as a child?
Was there anything you thought I could be when I was a child?
Was I always this broken?
If I had the experience, do you think there is anything I could do?
Did you think I had potential to be anything when I was young? Or something? Or more than this?
Did you see anything I might have missed?
I don’t even know how it came out when I did ask her, for all the time I spent thinking about it. I do know that I was really anxious, and my heart was pounding, and my mind was trying to build walls and block things out, and my hands were shaking.
I do know it wasn’t easy for me to ask. What if she thought I thought that she didn’t do enough to encourage me when I was young? That certainly wasn’t what I was trying to express. I just… wanted to know if there was maybe something I had missed.
Something I could be. Something I could do. Anything I might be able to succeed at – for this string of failures that has been my life since at least my teens (though the feeling was there long before that) has devastated my confidence until I am blinded in fear from trying again.
I was glad to have my mom there. For years sometimes, between visits, she is not there – and some things are hard to ask on the phone, or even in emails. This was one of them.
Was there anything I was especially interested in?
“Writing,” she said. “You were always writing.”
“You never wanted to play sports, or work in teams, or do things with other people. You just always had paper and pens, and I don’t even know what you were writing most of the time. You just loved to write.”
Well… there you have it. What I am, I’ve always been. There is nothing I love to do more than write.