I have a few happy memories of my childhood that involve my mom.
I never gave it much thought. I didn’t know I was supposed to have more. I knew only one way of how mothers and daughters worked. I didn’t know our way was not the norm.
Until one spring day a few years ago I had a meltdown. Something pretty insignificant happened and I lost it. Started crying and couldn’t stop. I got in the car and I drove and drove through a heavy rain, sobbing loud and ugly, until I couldn’t breathe or see. I don’t cry, so this scared me, but it siphoned off…something. Temporarily.
Then it happened again a month later. I didn’t know I’d still been dragging my entrails through the dirt until my body said, “Enough!” I sought help…and got it.
So why am I scrawling this personal revelation on my blog? It’s because of a novel. By some accident (or not) of fate, I recently happened upon a 2007 book, Dirty by Megan Hart.** I recognized the main character Elle’s plight right away, and her mother, too. Reading Elle’s story made me tense with discomfort, made my own psychology bubble to the surface. Made me sick and worried. Not for me, but for Elle. I kept turning the pages to see if she’d be okay, and when Elle’s brother said she should see someone because “…Talking about it helps. Puts things in perspective. Proves I’m not crazy…” the truth of it stole my breath. I wanted to reach through the little electronic pad I read on and shake Elle, say “Listen to your brother! He knows!”
I was on edge about every decision Elle made, the sorts of so-called choices we daughters of difficult mothers make to establish a modicum of control over our own lives. I was completely, unequivocally engaged with her.
Some people say “write for yourself.” Not me. I write in quest of a bond, a connection. Yes, for entertainment, too, but even then, the be-all, end-all is the emotional tie, creating deeper feelings, four dimensional reading experiences. Total immersion.
Books have so much power. As a reader, I want to be submerged. As a writer, I want to be your only source of oxygen.
I’ve read thousands of books, and still I’m surprised—and giddy—when it happens to me so thoroughly.
**Dirty is an erotic romance, not necessarily for every reader.