Lately I’ve felt a bit like Sally Field’s character in the 1976 book-based movie, “Sybil”, which is the story of Shirley Ardell Mason, who suffered from dissociative identity disorder (more commonly known as multiple personality disorder). No, I’m not breaking apart from long-suppressed psychological trauma, but contemplating the different faces that all of us present to others.
As a young parent, life requires us to exhibit a persona of infinite patience, boundless energy and determination. I alternately portrayed a saint, a teacher, and the embodiment of love and comfort during that time. Once the kids grew older and ventured out of the house, I could finally unleash my inner demon who uttered the “f-word” and the like with abandon. My halo continued to tarnish when they learned what physical act was required to create a baby. As one of my daughters put it, “Ewwwwww, you and dad did that THREE times?????” to produce her and her two siblings.
I’m thankful that my grandchildren are still too young to peruse my Facebook page or read one of the four books I’ve written (“Ednor Scardens”, “The Body War”, “The Hurting Year”, “On Gabriel’s Wings”). To my adult children, I’m still supposed to possess infinite patience, wisdom and other saintly qualities, but the years have taken their toll. My filter is wearing ever thinner.
“Tell It Like It Is” was a popular song (sung by Aaron Neville) and became a 1960’s catch-phrase, but I still hold back from saying what I really think about people and their choices, ideas, situations, etc. to avoid hurt feelings, but I know the day will come when I’ll be just like my mom by the time she landed in assisted living. No matter how often I visited or what I brought to please her, she still seemed unable to understand why I no longer had the figure I had in my twenties. Anytime I bent over to retrieve something on the floor, she would sigh and comment, “You have GOT to get rid of that ass!” Depending on her condition, I never knew which of Sybil’s personalities I’d be visiting that day. Mom passed away a few years ago, and my turn will
Now that I think about it, that might not be so bad. It could be the basis for my next book!
Kathleen Barker’s books and personal blog can be found at: