Time turns ugly demons into tolerable imps
I was a teenage monster. Maybe I didn’t turn into a horror movie werewolf or a blood-sucking vampire, but I was not an easy teen to parent. To be honest, I don’t think my mother had the chops to handle her role as starring parent either. That was a thousand years ago though and, thankfully, we’ve both had time to rewrite the script.
Sometimes when I read essays by people who are still in the muddled midst of an unhealthy relationship, raw and hurting, I want to shout: Consider the space-time continuum!
You don’t need to be a physics genius to understand the benefit of putting a little distance between yourself and a difficult situation. It doesn’t need to be a big dramatic “I’m never speaking to you again!” Or a cruel and confusing silent ghosting. Just a little space and time.
Maybe it was easier before we were all just a twitchy-thumb-text away.
A snippy remark that arrived by snail mail weeks after it was penned, lost much of its sting and could be easily, and quite literally, discarded. Wounds had time to scab over and fall off. The remaining scars didn’t hurt as much and also reminded us to protect ourselves against future hurts. And the really jagged ones made for good stories.
“Did I ever tell you how I got this six-inch scar when my heart was ripped out and stomped on? No? Well, listen.”
Consciously, or subconsciously, as a young adult I created space and time — as in thousands of miles and several time zones — between my family and me. As a middling adult, my life was cram-packed busy with career and kids. As the years and job market for daily newspaper journalists dwindled, I became my own boss.
Turns out, I am not terribly demanding of my one employee. Each day I take a break from my keyboard and go for a mind-clearing one-hour walk and either listen to podcasts or make phone calls. I’ve discovered that conversations with my mother are more entertaining than most podcasts. Also, there are no commercials.
We talk about everything. We talk about nothing. I could write a book called What We Talk About When We Talk About Nothing. It would be thick. And no one would care to read it. The minutia of our daily lives couldn’t be of interest to…