Remember Thumper the rabbit from the Movie “Bambi” he stamps his little foot and says “Mumma always says if you can’t say nuffin nice you shouldn’t say nuffin at all” well personally l like that statement because once the words are spoken you can’t take them back. We ALL say things in anger, at that moment you feel justified to say it and get it out there but later on you might feel like “taking it back” just like life there are no re-dos! I’ve been guilty of not saying the words because I am basically a chicken when it comes to confrontation, but l go away and stew on things and then think of how l “coulda, woulda, shoulda,” handled it and then l write it all down! Once l wrote it in a letter to someone who used to be close to me ok, she was my sister. Seeing how much pain that caused her, now l just write it in my journals! A therapist once told me “Write the person a letter and get it all out of your system and then burn it or rip it up and be done with it” another person suggested writing it and burning it and burying it to get rid of the left over anger, so far l’ve written it and burnt it l’ve also used some of those ashes in a painting so therefore turning ugly into pretty, and l’ve written horrible things on canvas and painted over it and made it beautiful but l knew what was under that pretty so l stabbed it smashed it and threw it away… maybe not what the therapist had in mind but it helped me!
Some artists speak of that judgemental inner critic that is never happy with their art, one art teacher said we should name them and then reply to them in positive ways, one of my favourites was l was painting a mermaid with pink hair and the “Evil Inner Critic” started up with “Pink hair? How stupid! Whoever has pink hair! I’ve never seen a mermaid with pink hair” l calmly replied “Really? When did you last see a mermaid? Oh and By the way Mother! Pink hair comes from a bottle also known as hair dye!” Yes my “Evil Inner Critic” wears my Mother’s voice. It wears my Mother’s voice because that’s what l’ve heard for a good chunk of my life.
How l Mother my children is directly in line with how l was mothered, EXACTLY the opposite. I praise my children if l like something they’ve cooked l ask for the recipe, if they wear something l like l ask for the details. If they have a skill l don’t well l want to learn it or support them in their hobby. I show interest in their lives, maybe Star Son thinks l show too much interest and says “Why do you need to know?” My reply “Because l’m your Mother and l care!”
Over the years l’ve done loads of journaling with different prompts to try and work through this “Mother Issue” l have- and in all the thousands of words l’ve written l honestly can not recall a time when she made a positive remark. I cannot recall a time she said “Oh good job” or “l like the way you did that!” Instead, upon meeting my brother for the first time, who she gave up for adoption she said “Oh and this is your sister Kim she’s the bitch of the family” this was over 25 years ago now but l hear that all the time it’s on constant replay. Did this stranger to our family need to know that immediately? Did he also need to know every other misdemeanour l’d made in my first 25 years of life? But her and her daughters proceeded to tell him every.little.thing! And l wanted the floor to open up and swallow me. I still cringe when l recall that day!
That is why l mother the exact opposite l don’t want the “Evil inner Critic” that my own daughters might have to be floating around with MY voice!
So now they know they can come to me and vent to me and ask me advice if they want it l’ll give them my thoughts if not that’s ok too lm a good listener and l never repeat it because it ends here. Maybe they won’t make my mistakes of writing or worse saying things to someone they can’t take back. Sometimes if we rearrange the words we want to say they go from being harsh and critical to honest and thoughtful it might have a different outcome l understand that now l didn’t then.
I guess in someways l should thank my Evil Inner Critic for her behaviour because now as an artist l paint what l like, how l like and l can shut her up. As a Mother l should thank her for teaching me what not to do and only take the good bits from her lessons, like how to make delicious vegetable soup. Once my Son in Law told my daughter “Oh you sounded just like your Mother” but it wasn’t a criticism and so that made me happy but never once will l ever say that saying “I opened my mouth and my Mothers voice and out” never ever!