“What’s that sound?” TBB asked me as we chatted on the phone.
“It’s the sound of the only control I had in my life for over a decade,” I answered.
I was clicking my tongue, making a pop between it and the roof of my mouth.
When my father still wanted to feel the control of driving, he often wouldn’t judge the distance between us and the next car, would miss some nuance of the road.
My mother would often gasp as he did this, verbal utterances. This was a bad idea, even though it fulfilled her fear, because it would startle my father and force him to process words when he needed his focus for the road. That’s how we got rear-ended by a big truck; my mother feared the light might change, sang out, my father stopped short, and bang.
My choice was more subtle. I had to learn to drive from the back seat, being an interactive GPS and traffic controller. He needed lots of cues to know about the turn, and needed help in grasping the conditions.
I would sit on the transmission hump of the tiny backseat so I could look forward at all times, keeping concentration, and when I needed him to respond quickly, I would click my tongue. He could get that without thinking too much, and if I was always on the ball, I could tell him in plenty of time.
It’s a trick that people who guide oxen use, because ox need time to respond. Don’t startle an ox; it won’t get you what you want and it could be dangerous.
For me, though, the sound of tongue clicking was about the whole of the control I had over my life. My father, the man who couldn’t take yes for an answer, had a dedicated worldview, and my mother was always in her passive aggressive mode, wanting to control everything by sitting on her butt and saying “no.” Ah, Aspergers.
The limits on my choices, my purchases, my expression were the limits of what I could get my parents to understand. Sure, I could have just abandoned them, but for many reasons, playing the dutiful daughter seemed to be the right choice. I was certainly trained to it, becoming the caretaker very, very early.
My challenge now is owning my life again. For me, I suspect, that means owning the part I most had to suppress; my performance energy. It is one thing to learn to tightly control your life, aesthetic denial taken to the maximum, focused tightly on one limited audience, it is another to reclaim that mothballed energy, now degraded and worn by aging and denial.
Can I communicate in more than a tongue click? Time will tell, eh?