Being Parker Brown: Using What Works

Who’s Parker Brown? Parker Brown is a fictional character created by Nora Roberts. She’s a wedding planner and obsessively organized, etc. If you’re interested in the character, you’ll find her in The Bride Quartet books.

Many of my role models are derived from or are fictional characters because frankly, the people in my life family haven’t been people I wanted to emulate. In many cases, I don’t even want to remember the people in my life family. Is this their fault? To some extent. But what I do with what I’m given is up to me, not anyone else.

What media models do I use?

  • Dragonflight and Citizen of the Galaxy and other science fiction taught me as a kid that maybe I could survive hell and triumph in the end?
  • I’ve used “Hey Jude” almost since I first heard it.
  • I’ve used “It’s a Wonderful Life” most of my adult life too.`
  • I use romances, like the Bride Quartet books, to relax and recharge. My husband calls them my “mind candy.”

As long as I can remember, I’ve had people telling me, “That stuff is fiction, you have to deal with reality.” They didn’t understand that my reality was so awful that without fiction (or something) I would have been overwhelmed.

My point here is that you use what works.

For me academia/learning was a family trap. I  couldn’t ever learn enough: about literature, science, math, engineering, art, religious history, horticulture, animation, ancient art, etc. to be “worthwhile” as anything other than “the person to be better than” in my childhood home. Knowledge and data were commodities to be continually compared and contrasted (like living in a perpetual English essay!) — and I started at a disadvantage — I was the youngest by more than a decade. There was no provision made for me to catch up. I was supposed to be “interesting” and when I wasn’t? Well, obviously, I wasn’t worth spending time with or on. So, surprise? I did REALLY poorly in academia! Forget knowledge-based achievements.

Athletes were viewed as folks who were physical because they couldn’t do anything else (that is, use their brains). The fact that my close family consisted of two obese people and an asthmatic wasn’t discussed. I could have done athletics, but didn’t. When offered the chance, I hadn’t given up trying to measure up in the knowledge regurgitation stakes. (See academia, above.)

Money/Status/Power/Career was held to be more important than if you were happy/content/stable and was supposed to be the focus of your life. If you were nice to people, they’d be nice to you. If you made money and were nice to people, they’d be nice to you, and you’d be happy.

All of us endured some bullying, nerds do, obese folks do. And, although I was neither a nerd nor obese, I was tiny and emotionally flaky, and easy to rouse.

I’ve already talked about religion here. I won’t repeat myself.

The point of all of this is pretty simple: I had a dysfunctional family whose models didn’t work for me. It seemed impossible that I could ever do enough, be enough to be worthy, and in fact it was — because all of their insecurities would keep them from acknowledging that I’d done something worthwhile. I lived in a world whose models didn’t seem to work either. This left me few options.

Fiction worked when I was a kid and still does.

Do I want to be Parker Brown? Sure, I’d love it! Ms. Brown comes from a monied family, was loved, nurtured, and has the ability to love & nurture in return. She has 3 close friends and they’ve all been friends since they were small. She has a surrogate mother/housekeeper who is a caring individual. Sounds like heaven to me! Oh yeah, she’s also ruthlessly organized. She clears her desk every Sunday so she starts Monday with a clean desk and organized.

I cleaned my desk off last night thinking about Ms. Brown.

You’re welcome to get your role models where you’d like, most of mine come from fiction. And, given the background I’ve got? If you challenge me about it, I’ll likely get mildly nasty.

In my world? In my world, you grab whatever help you find, from any source, with both hands and are GRATEFUL. I’ll keep reading popular fiction; it’s the only way I ever believed I could have a happy ending.

You think it’s not worthwhile? Sorry, I know it is, for me.  (I’d have kept trying to kill myself or self-destructing another way without it.)

You can be a culture snob in whatever way you want. that’s on you. Just don’t stand in my light — I’m reading!

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4 responses to “Being Parker Brown: Using What Works

  1. Very powerful post J, I think you are an amazing person to have survived all that you have been through. I’m sure you are helping others just by blogging about your experience and how you are dealing with it.

    • Most of what I was after with this was to try and explain how/why some of the “traditional” things didn’t work for me. It’s all well and good to say, “Take it to your family.” or “Beat the water swimming.” or other coping techniques but what was available to me seemed really limited for a long time. Reading was one of the few that were “acceptable”. I was trying to explain something that is I hope nearly incomprehensible to most people, that is, why I couldn’t lean on my family, how they actually made things worse (although the abuser used who/what they were, she was NOT stupid) For a long, long time it felt like I was trapped in a fun house and everyone but me know how to get out, which walls were mirrors, and where all the trap doors were. Thanks!

  2. I love this idea….and YES, if it works, it’s worthwhile. I liked your “Hey Jude” reference….I’m full of music lyrics that have gotten me through all sorts of spots.

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