Years ago and more recently and maybe even now there’s this thing that happens sometimes when I’m in the presence of kindness. Not just any kindness. But kindness emanating from a woman of a certain age, in her 30s maybe; a wholesome girl-woman, pretty with long hair natural good looks not a lot of makeup. And good teeth lots of good white enough strong teeth a wide warm it’s conceivable that if she was around me a bit more not even that long that she would be the type to give me anyone a hug smile.
Years ago and more recently and maybe now, I would see that girl-woman, any girl-woman like that, flashing her teeth at me, smiling through me and — I would cry. Not a wracking, sobbing sort of cry, no. Not even a crying that I was conscious of, really. What it was or maybe still is if it still happens was water running from my eyes. My eyes tearing up and overflowing.
(My father used to have the same thing. The watering eyes. During a period in his life that was wracked with pain (his whole life was wracked with pain but this period was more so).)
I didn’t know what it was then, my overflowing eyes. All I knew was my eyes those eyes got in the way of me trying to make new friends. Those eyes embarrassed me, they mortified me.
So I withdrew and hid (Back to being alone being nothing that’s how it’s supposed to be that’s how he made me My father not God, I mean)
Back then when my eyes overflowed I could hear not hear feel know not know grief yes grief deep painful grief inside of me. Also I could not hear SCREAMING. From some little part inside of me saying to that kind girl-woman please please please want me I WANT you I’m not allowed to say that I’m not allowed to want you I’m TERRIFIED I want you I don’t want to be seen I’m not here
And I certainly then didn’t know what to do with that screaming kid inside of me shut the door on her let her scream pretend she’s not there no, I don’t hear her, don’t hear anything do you she’s not there she was never there nothing happened I don’t know what you’re talking about
Years later I made the connection between my overflowing eyes and the kind-seeming smiling girl-women’s teeth, and my mother’s teeth, her trademark broad smile.
Those teeth that smile, my mother’s teeth, her smile, saved me and crucified me my whole life
I could not expect cruelty from my mother that was my father’s domain. Constant unusual excessive cruelty. Her domain was “nice”. To be nice always nice to the father who abused me to everyone and SMILE (well except for the people she made fun of behind their back but she was being cute and funny then not mean wasn’t she and she still SMILED at them)
Everybody likes me (that’s her smiling, talking about herself) she told me, often
And so I thought I should be like her. Nice Because everyone should like me shouldn’t they it’s not nice not to be nice.
So I stuffed my feelings like she did to me (like they did to her I think I know)
And she was my saviour and my jailor.
She saved me because she was nice almost always when my father was cruel always. I looked to her for nice I longed for her for nice I longed for her to save me to take me away to see me
And she was my jailor seeing not seeing me I thought she could see me but she couldn’t wouldn’t see my pain. She wasn’t allowed to? By him? by her own family history?
And so I could see couldn’t see my pain either
Could see couldn’t see the monster I we all lived with the man who’s pain was so great his humanity was all but taken from him
But somewhere deep inside I thought she was really going to save me SAVE me make none of what was happening not happening happen
But she didn’t wasn’t wasn’t going to (couldn’t?)
She only promised that she would with her teeth her smile