I had a conversation with Zsuzsa, a friend of mine from architecture school.
I normally hide from her, because she is traditionally very negative. But last instant messaging we had she sounded upbeat, so I thought, I’d give it a try. I know how to break off a conversation when it goes south.
As fate has it, she broke her hand a few months ago, it didn’t heal well, and she has had a lot of pain. Interestingly it has changed her. Permanently or temporarily, I don’t know. My hunch is that it is temporary…
Anyway, I shared with her my experience with the nose bleed. She didn’t quite grasp it at first. She has had nose bleeds but her first thought wasn’t: this is the beginning of the end, so for her the chance of a breakthrough with that would have been small.
On the other hand, given that she is an architect, her right hand is her bread and butter, so creating a new way to look at it was a definite breakthrough for her.
I was mulling over this today as I was washing my hands in the bathroom.
“You need to trust the whisper inside your head that says that what’s happening is a good thing.” I thought, but then I cringed. Some 58 years ago I thought just that and where did it lead me?!
I saw what happened as a movie, just like “M” the German movie about a child murderer. Mass murderer, Serial killer, to be exact. I could hear my own giggle, like it is in a movie theater, then my own screaming.
Then I heard the gasping of the strangers who looked down at me in a tight circle in the barn, then the train, chi-hoo-hoo-hoo, and then my mother’s cold words, “You are a whore.”
Very film noir, artsy movie style, black and white, sparse, sounds, light and dark. Choppy.
Against that backdrop, my mother’s reaction suddenly didn’t make sense.
Next scene: my mother asking me in the car: “Was I a horrible mother?” I glimpse at her. The background is the magnificent lights of Manhattan Island from New Jersey. Her face is small and pleading. I don’t have the heart to tell her to what degree I’d thought she was horrible.
I decided to create a new movie, right then, right there.
“No, mother. You must have been the perfect mother for me, because I turned out. I like myself.” I lied.
The Landmark Forum leader who’d helped me re-interpret my mother’s statement “You are a whore” a few years earlier was famous for his saying: Integrity is when both tongues go in the same direction. The tongue in the mouth and the tongue in the shoes.
I have set a new direction with my mouth, my job was to adjust my actions, the tongue in the shoes, to go in the same direction.
The car conversation happened in 1992. Today, in the bathroom, recalling the whole movie… I watched my face in the mirror as it contorted with unmentionable pain and horror.
I needed to change clothes, the ones I was wearing were soaked in tears.