Quiet Car

by Jocelyn McKinnon-Crowley

Once I figured out that my words and observations could wound, I became oh so hesitant to speak freely. I became ashamed of what my voice could do. I knew, too, that I was wrong in any and all judgments or condemnation of others. I realized I missed facts that would give me better perspective. Yet, sometimes the anger boiled out. But my anger would be met with either tears or chastisement. While the fierce, cutting loud, constant, outburst anger of my sister would be met with resignation and loud battle cries.
So I tried my hardest to keep my comments to myself. To not speak if I didn’t have anything nice to say. Rarely did I think of nice things. But this builds a sort of rage in the heart. When that passion festers it becomes aggravated aggravation. So that when I finally did burst out in anger, went off the handle, I would be met with disregard, shock, and amusement. The sort of smile that says, how quaint you are with your emotions.
During the endless car rides to meet my father half way for his weekly parent visits, my mother would talk. I would listen. I would refrain from expressing opinions. We weren’t allowed to read in the car. We couldn’t listen to headphones. So we had to sit and talk or sing to the radio. I used to play a game where I’d try to count down from ten in between my mom’s running commentary. I was silent in the car. I perfected the art of being polite while not saying anything worth while. This kept my mom, and sister, chatting. She told me once how nice it was that she could sit in the car with me and be silent. She said she didn’t feel like she had to talk. I remember thinking, I’m not comfortable. I said nothing.
In those moments when I lose the part of my mind that watches everything I say, always in those moments, I find I’ve said something embarrassing, hurtful, stupid, or inane. It’s better to keep my mouth shut. I should be able to say better things. I should be able to say something.

Problems that probably only happen to me #22.


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