Mother had always said we could go to school if we wanted. We just had to ask Dad, she said. Then we could go. But I didn’t ask. There was something in the hard line of my father’s face, in the quiet sigh of supplication he made every morning before he began family prayer, that made me think my curiosity was an obscenity, an affront to all he’d sacrificed to raise me.
JUST WHAT DO I MEAN?
The featured image above holds the answer to this question. The word cloud contains many emotions experienced by those confronted with negative reactions. Perhaps in the form of words or even by threatened actions. Reading the emotions tells us what our words and actions may do to another.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Let’s see how that works. Look at the image of Will Muschamp during his tenure as head football coach at the University of Florida.
The score of this game held Muschamp’s future. Muschamp’s facial expression defines his anger. And it’s not hard to see the object of his scorn.
WHY AM I WRITING ABOUT THIS?
We’ll get to that in a minute. First, another example I saw while watching an NCAA football game a couple of weeks ago. What I saw has stayed with me as it brought back memories of a painful childhood.
I searched online football news for a photo perhaps taken by a reporter or TV crew, but no luck. You’ll have to use your imaginations to bring the image to mind.
One of the two teams playing made a touchdown, and as usual, there was much celebration. As the offensive players made it to the sidelines, the offensive line coach was waiting. He expressed heated displeasure with his players. I couldn’t understand why.
As the young collegiate players took seats, the coach visibly berated them. His facial expressions, like those of Will Muschamp, revealed such anger it was frightening. His index finger did its share of chest jabbing. If faceguards had not been in place, I daresay he may have done more. Despite the touchdown, it seems some of his players had made a mistake in carrying out the play. The touchdown was forgotten in favor of berating his players.
As a child exposed to similar abuses, I looked on as these young men shrank on the TV screen. Still in full uniform and pads, their shoulders slumped and theirs heads hung low. They were experiencing many of the emotions in the word cloud above. I felt bad for them all, including the coach for his behavior.
IT’S NOT JUST IN SPORTS
I’m writing about this topic because it’s evident in all phases of our world. Today bullying runs rampant in so many places–the workplace, schoolroom, community activities, and organizations. Many relationships suffer the effects of bullying.
If we take a look around our daily lives, a short list becomes clear. We find it in professional workplaces, employer to employee, friendships, and among family members.
Take a look at why this happens. Usually it happens when a sense of competition, hierarchy, power, or control gets out of hand. Even in our community of writers, editors, coaches, and teachers it can happen.
How can this be you might ask? Among writers and those who support them or direct their paths?
I recently met with a writing coach. She requested I send the first ten pages of my manuscript for her review. Not to critique or edit, simply review. Despite knowing this, my nerves jangled as I headed toward the appointment. Rooted in my mother’s persistent negative reactions toward me, I anticipated a negative response.
Imagine my relief when the coach began our meeting with the words, “You’re a good writer.” Of course, there were topics addressed which needed work and I knew there would be. But she began our meeting on a positive note. It made all the difference in how I left the meeting.
A FEW THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
- When critiquing another’s writing, do you jump on the most negative element in feedback? Or do you lead first with something positive?
- When commenting on a blog post, do you immediately point out a grammatical error or an incorrect fact? Or do you first offer appreciation for the writer’s effort and time in posting?
- When participating in a Google Hangout or Skype conversation, do you put others down? Or do you ignore whatever irritates you in a more private, less offensive way later?
- Do you choose public forum vs. privacy to clear the air with a fellow writer, editor, coach, or teacher?
- As adults, we no longer see the need to raise hands to speak. Yet, there is another way to avoid talking over each other and being rude. Be patient and wait for a break in the conversation and then speak. No reason to step on others’ toes and/or feelings.
This short list is only five examples of ways we can watch our own behavior. Sometimes, as the irate football coach did, we react too fast. In so doing, we reduce the other party to any of the several emotions in our word cloud. And we cast ourselves in the role of an abuser or bully.
Bullying isn’t found only among our children and youth. Adults have a handle on bullying too. It may be a carryover from a dysfunctional childhood. Perhaps a lack of self-respect from a feeling of unworthiness. Even jealousy plays a large role. As adults, we must set the example for children and youth.
Let’s try to make a difference by remembering these words:
“Words are containers for power. You choose what kind of
power they carry.”
Somehow I believed it was my obligation to try to do the right thing by her because she had given birth to me.Burdened with constant worry for her father and the guilt caused by her mother’s narcissism, D.G. Kaye had a short childhood. When she moved away from home at age eighteen, she began to grow into herself, overcoming her lack of guidance and her insecurities. Her life experiences became her teachers, and she learned from the mistakes and choices she made along the way, plagued by the guilt she carried for her mother.
Conflicted Hearts is a heartfelt journey of self-discovery and acceptance, an exploration of the quest for solace from emotional guilt.
(Synopsis and image via Goodreads)
Imagine feeling frustrated and powerless in a situation you’re desperate to resolve. When you’re a child, that angst multiplies immensely because you are only that–a child. You have no power to speak out about what you’re feeling, and neither are you permitted to ask questions that might soothe your inner turmoil, because the cause of your dilemmas are adult matters that apparently shouldn’t concern you. ~ D.G. Kaye, Conflicted Hearts
At the beginning of Chapter 8 of Conflicted Hearts , the same chapter from which the above quote is taken, D.G. Kaye writes the following:
We are the products of our parents. How can they teach us what they didn’t know?
Likely, these words resonate with more than one reader with parents from the same generation as Kaye’s.
The author’s fluid writing style and storyteller’s voice gives the reader a sense of sitting down over a steaming cup of coffee or tea with a friend. The friend begins to tell you what life was like for her as a child. You sit in disbelief, wondering how this positive, strong, loving woman lived through the parenting received at the mind and hands of her mother.
Yet, our author and friend lives with a guilt burdening her for far too long. This is the skin she wants to shed–the skin of her guilt feelings. It appears to this reader nothing has been D.G. Kaye’s fault with respect to her mother and her mother’s behavior. The guild is just another layer applied like frosting on a cake. Only this isn’t frosting. It isn’t sweet, and it leaves an acid taste in your mouth.
D.G. Kaye is not ashamed nor abashed about telling her story and sharing it with those willing to read. Her truthful memories will unfasten for others the doors to walk through to the other side of life. Life filled with love, happiness, and respect.
Thank you to the author for the gift of her words.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who lived through an emotionally and verbally abusive childhood, one like D.G. Kaye’s. Remember, you are not the one at fault, and reading Kaye’s memoir will help you understand that.
Publisher: D.G. Kaye
Published: January 9, 2014
Kindle Edition: 202 pages
Disclaimer: I received a copy of Conflicted Heartsfrom the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.
Conflicted Hearts is available for purchase at the following booksellers:*
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Meet D.G. Kaye:
D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction writer of memoirs about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues. She began writing when pen and paper became tools to express her pent-up emotions during a turbulent childhood. D.G.’s writing began as notes and cards she wrote for the people she loved and admired when she was afraid to use her own voice. D.G. journaled about life, and her opinions on people and events. She later began writing poetry and health articles for a Canadian magazine as her interest was piqued by natural healthcare.
Becoming interested in natural healing and remedies, D.G. began reading extensively on the subject after encountering quite a few serious health issues—family and her own. Against many odds, Kaye has overcome adversity several times throughout her life.
Kaye began writing books to share her stories and inspiration. She looks for the good and the positive in everything and believes in paying it forward. “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”
Her favourite saying: Live. Laugh. Love …and don’t forget to breathe! is her website logo, to remind herself and others that we often forget to take a pause.
You can find D.G. on social media and her author and blog pages:
(Image and bio via Goodreads)
Years ago I hated Mother’s Day.
The search for a card was the worst. A card that didn’t say: “Mom, you’re the greatest,” “I adore you, Mom,” “Mother, you’re the best ever!” And Hallmark had plenty more I ignored and didn’t buy until I felt guilty.
The verses and kudos didn’t fit the mother I had. In fact, sometimes I wished she were dead. Then I’d be free of the abuses, emotional and verbal. But I’m not in charge of life and death choices.
Despite my feelings, I always sent flowers and a vanilla card. How could I not? She was my mother. She breathed life into me. Yet she seemed to hate me. And I didn’t know why.
Years passed. Hurts continued. One day I learned I would move Mama to Oregon near my home to care for her. No longer mobile, she needed professional care. With the support of my husband, the move took place.
And with that move came changes. Changes in Mama. Changes we couldn’t believe. What happened? What caused her to change? I have the answers to the questions, but I’m saving them for my memoir.
What I can share with you is that I never imagined feeling sad on Mother’s Day because she isn’t here. She died 10 months after we moved her to Oregon.
This is the last photo taken of Mama just before we moved her in December 2000. With her are my nephew, Kevin, and a younger me.
I believe she died happily. I was the one unhappy when she died despite those earlier wishes.
I pondered all the years we’d spent defying one another, arguing, hurting and, yes, hating each other. Why? Another question I know the answer to now. But you’ll have to wait.
And you know something? There is a good side to my mother. I hope to do justice to that part of her story in my memoir. She deserves nothing less.