Updated: Mar 2, 2019
So I've been collecting stories for years, convinced that they aren't worth anything. That rather than tell the ones I've got, I need more stories, better stories. Yep friends, I am a story hoarder. I throw each experience in a basket in my psyche convinced it's devoid of resource and use that basket to prop open a door to the bathroom. But today I'm gonna come clean and tell you one, about soap.
My mom lived in Hawthorn, Nevada when I was in my late teens through her death when I turned 30. So basically all the years I was learning to be an adult. I did okay learning to be an adult. I had basic things figured out like feeding myself and showering and sleeping and holding down jobs. This wasn't true for my mom who had a lot of inner demons, battled a lot of addiction and consequently was supported by many therapists.
In those years I visited her often. And one time after a long lonely road trip, I agreed to pick her up at her therapist's office. My mom was always very proud of me, claiming that I was doing all the things she could never do, which were like just basic adult stuff. Because of her pride in me she LOVED to introduce me to her therapists. I was her tropy daughter. And though I still have a little trouble admitting it, I sorta liked her showing me off. I shake the therapist's hand and my mom says something like “isn't she cute” even though I am 27 and haven't been the cute that her voice implies in probably 23 years. But whatever the meeting is done and we turn to leave.
Then before we get to the door my mom turns back, shoulders hunched as she does with her big blue doe eyes and says to the woman, “Do you by any chance have a bar of soap I can have? It's just that my daughter is visiting and I don't have any soap and she probably wants to take a shower.” And I did, but also I had my own soap, I am an adult for gods sake and suddenly my mom is groveling and I am embarrassed. Her Shame Wizard is wizzing all over me and I AM PISSED.
Inside me I want to stomp my feet and say “don't do this please, I AM AN ADULT, I have my own soap.” But I don't. And I don't because she is once again playing out a melodrama she has played out a multitude of times before and I must play my part. Especially with these walk on characters, like therapists.
We drive to her house and enter her dusty overpacked home and I set down my things deciding that I do indeed want a shower. My mom gives me the bar of Shame Soap and I say “no thank you. I brought my own soap.” She shrugs me off and tosses it on the table next to her overflowing ashtray and stacks of unopened mail. I head to the bathroom.
To close the bathroom door I must pick up a basket that acts as a doorstop and move it out of the way. As I set it down I realize that this basket is not just any basket. It's a heavy basket. It's a basket filled to the top with the very thing my mother just 30 minutes prior had groveled for. It's filled with fucking soap. Like lots of soap?!? Roughly 100 hotel soaps each in their cute little boxes or wrappers. My mom has soap.
And for some reason I AM PISSED. Like really pissed.
“MOM! Why did you tell your therapist that you didn't have any soap, when you clearly have soap right here?”
And she chuckles as she lights a cigarette. “Vicki that's not soap, that's my collection.”
The basket of soap isn't soap, it's her collection and therefor rendered useless.
This happened roughly 15 years ago and my mom's been dead for 12 of those years and to this day I feel rage when I tell this story. That she groveled for something SHE ALREADY HAD. That rather than see her own resource, she would claim she had none and then beg for more.
I still don't know why she did this? Why? Like what makes a person have so much and but believe that they have so little?
Why would you do that to yourself and the daughter of which you are clearly so proud? Why couldn't you just see what you have and put it to the use it was meant for? Why hoard something, while claiming you need more?
The truth is there is no answer to why. I can't find a good answer and it still sits in my belly unsettled. I loved my mom but she made herself so much less than she was. Rather than share her resources, she hoarded them and while I can't have an answer to why, I can see remnants of this behavior in myself. In the way I hoard my own stories.
Here I pull this one story out of my own hoarded basket of resource, unwrap it from it's perfect little wrapper and put it to use. I can come clean about the fact that in some ways I am not much different. I too hoard some resources while claiming I have none.
Friends I have been hoarding stories for years, the way she hoarded soap. I've got a whole lot of them. I look forward to telling you more.