I had the benefit of a friendly send off from my muse before embarking on a long drive with my Dad. We’re just friends, but he has this shadows and light effect I enjoy. The light is about the purity I see in him. He’s genuinely a nice guy. The shadows are about the muted grays and soft blues. There's an edge of sadness and it bites softly - tentatively. There’s just something about him that brings out my gentler side that wants to Momma bear and protect him. That and he thinks I’m selfless when it comes to being Mom and it makes me enjoy keeping him around. Some of our interactions are his attempts to annoy me. It’s lighthearted and silly. I think it’s fun because he sees someone that is generally happy and hard to ruffle. I’m an autism Mom that has been in controlling relationships where I couldn’t choose what I wanted to do, let alone have free time to do it in. I’m a bit of a challenge in that way. I don't even realize he's trying to annoy me until it doesn't work and he tells me he was trying. As for him, he’s just incapable of the darkness that was offered as love by boyfriends in my youth. There’s just too much good in him to be capable of true malice.
Today there was a moment where I was telling him about my plans to drive to Laughlin with my Dad and the parts I wasn’t looking forward to. It was a moment of transparency where I was not shining in the best light. We were texting and in a space of quiet, I panicked because I want to be the person that gets along with others and I didn’t look like that. We found something to ruffle my feathers and yet he didn’t pounce. Later we were in my car and I asked if he wanted windows or air conditioning and he asked what I wanted. He was calling me out on being a people pleaser without saying it. Maybe he said it, but is was a gentle nudge.
On the nearly 5-hour drive, I spent quiet moments singing along to the playlist I made, talking to my Dad about anything and everything, and thinking about the ways in which I don’t speak up. I spent about an hour picking out a playlist to drive to. I was enjoying it, and thinking about the look on my muse’s face when he commented about my pop music. It was disdain, but there was fun in it. As I was enjoying the memory, my Dad mentioned he wanted to listen to Christian music. Just like that, I switched, not paying attention to my wants.
Several hours later the conversation drifted to the point where I talked about my upbringing. I was telling my Dad that I know he always did what he thought was best and I never doubted he loved me, but I’m only now beginning to speak up for myself. I brought up the playlist. It wasn't to hurt him but to show him I was taking notice of my actions and responsibility for my choices. As we talked, I brought up one of his favorite phrases, “children should be seen and not heard.” He defended it saying that he was doing it to prepare me. I said it prepared me to follow someone else’s lead because I shouldn’t have to fight myself to say what’s on my mind.
With my upbringing, it’s hard to speak up for myself. I was taught to make others comfortable. I was expected to follow my Dad’s leadership and I spent a life looking for a man worthy to lead me, without fully appreciating the fact that I can lead my own life. I defer to the comfort of those around me instead of deciding what I want for myself. I will remain silent. I’m still figuring out what I like to do in my time alone because for so long I didn’t have time alone or I didn’t have permission to do what I like, so I have no idea what that is anymore. I have to teach myself something different – something new.
Right now my lessons revolve around my ability to move forward without looking toward the past as a point of reference. I can do different and be better at it because I won’t live in the fear of yesterday and tomorrow. I have this moment and right now, I want to BE.