Rewriting history

brown brain decor in selective-focus photography

Memory is limited.. Today’s story shows it.

brown brain decor in selective-focus photography

In an earlier post I talked about the lip sync evenings in our village. I remember I participated with my mother in one of those. I remember she sang a song, and I danced in the background. I loved doing that, dancing to that song in the background. Me and my mother practiced for days and we rehearsed how I would come to the foreground to lip sync the chorus with her. I remember looking forward to it. And yet… on the day itself, I was terrified. I am one of those people who, from childhood to now, is high in negative emotion. It’s a part of my character, it’s inherited (my grandfather from mother’s side has an anxious, depressed streak in him, always has been) and it was ‘trained’, obviously. I was constantly anxious as a child and as an adult not much needs to happen for me to jump out of my skin. My memory of that lip sync evening was a dark one. I can’t remember being joyful while performing. I do remember the fun we had in the preparations, the days before. But the night itself has a dark tinge to it. I don’t remember if something happened beforehand (while writing this, I wonder if that is the case, it is surely possible) or if it was the sudden realization that we’d have to do our performance in front of all those people I knew. I remember, after having done the song, that one of the judges (some people from our village also) behind the table said something to me in that tone that adults reserve for children. I have always felt embarrassed when thinking about those lip sync nights and our performance in particular, but I don’t know when that feeling arose. I remember feeling ashamed at having parents like mine, who were always ‘off’, socially. A dark veil lies over my childhood, even though there surely were moments of fun with my mother. She did her best to do fun things together. This was one of them.

Today, she texted me.

Hi Diana, do you remember when I dressed up as Sinterklaas with my self-made hat and beard made of cotton and how I walked down the stairs laughing?

I remember. It’s an image that is impossible to forget. My mother laughed her ass off. She enjoyed this so much. I remember cringing, honestly, as a kid… I was so embarrassed at my parents and couldn’t stand that my mother was ‘weird’. Today, I realize she tried to give us the things she didn’t have.

We texted back and forth and I decided to ask her if she remembered the lip sync nights. She replied.

Haha. I have an old video tape of that, it’s in the attic. I think you were 8 or 10!? Not sure.

And another Italian song. I had memorized it. Because I wanted to show, that I wasn’t stupid. Please remind me next time, I have a story to tell.

We were good weren’t we? 😀

Glad, that we can now cherish this with a smile and a warm heart. (Now I will stop texting, or I won’t stop at all.)

I replied to her: “I was very scared as a child that I would be bullied for it the next day. I remember how quiet it was after we’d done the song and I was very scared that it was ‘wrong’. Those people behind the table were scary to me, as a child. I liked dancing at home and preparing it better than doing it for real. Now I can laugh about it, as an adult, I liked dancing to those songs. Didn’t you also lip sync [some song]?”

This is where the reply came that I didn’t expect.

I’m not sure. We were amazing 😀 I still have the trophy, because we won didn’t we!

My jaw dropped. I didn’t remember that bit. I remember the anxiety and shame. Did we win? Really? Apparently my mother still has the trophy and it says it’s from 1993. I was nine years old. She said she had wanted to throw it away, but someone (I don’t know who yet) told her not to, so she had kept it and apparently cleans it regularly. Next time we meet she will give it to me.

Now, obviously, there are many more facets to this story. Because my mother often took up the child-position on interactions, I could not be the child. I got stuck in the parentified role toward both parents. It is quite apparent that my mother cannot (or wishes not to) perceive anything but the good things. The bad and the ugly, she can’t perceive or she rejects. That is sad for us (if you want to discuss anything difficult, you must wrap it in an optimistic message or end with a joke), but good for her: She leads a happy fulfilling life by her own standards. She always made an effort and still does. She tried harder than anyone I know. It’s not for lack of trying that things didn’t work out very well. For that, for the trying, I am grateful. She participated in things. She made me participate, too. And you know what? I participated in a carnival procession when I was 5 or 6 and won a prize. And we won that lip sync competition.