I am about to set my feet upon a path today that I will at times lay upon as if I am dying, at times crawl upon, at times slink along, and hopefully at times march along strongly as I try this week to prepare a manuscript of my childhood stories to send to an editor I am blessed to have found who is willing to help pull together this first book on my childhood.
There is bound to be some spill-over as I fight out this battle over words to describe what happened to me in enough detail to convince readers of two things: I am telling the truth and it matters.
In order to tell this truth I have to use words, and because words were used from the time I was born as viscous and deadly weapons by my mother, all words that I consider and use to tell my story are contaminated by definition.
At this moment as I prepare myself for this week ahead I am afraid. I can use logic all I want to tell myself that “It’s OK. You are all grown up. You survived what was done to you by your mother. She can’t reach you. She can’t touch you. She is dead dead dead.”
But I cannot do this work without going “back there” into the 18 years of hell I spent being inhuman, being evil, being The Devil’s Child sent as a curse upon my mother’s life. With all the information I now have about how broken my mother was, about how the neglect, maltreatment, abuse, lack of love and acceptance, lack of WHATEVER coupled with WHATEVER dark and toxic forces that shaped my mother’s genetic constitution to permanently remove her from the universe of sanity and reason – I see at this moment no way to take this factual information into my past with me so I can be two places at the same time – here – and there.
It might help to wrap myself tightly within a sort of invisibility cloak as I travel back there to retrieve some version of MY childhood story. The fabric of this cloak is woven of threads made up of the awareness that I only have to do this once. One time only. THIS one time only.
But in order for this journey to be a ‘one time’, I am aware that I have to do it right. I need protection. I need a gas mask. I need a suit to keep my mother’s contamination of my childhood, her contamination of me as her growing daughter off of my skin, out of my airways.
My mind wants to KNOW what the title of this book is as if having the title shuts Pandora’s Box forever with the scary, awful stuff inside. I don’t WANT to jump inside that box and wrestle again with the demons that infected and overwhelmed, in fact consumed and BECAME the mind of my mother. I cannot tell my story without being there with her madness because WHO and WHAT she believed me to be WAS the darkness within her.
Only I didn’t know it. How could I have known it? From the first breath I ever took on this earth I was already guilty of being a murderess. “The Devil sent you to kill me while you were being born.” That being the beginning of my life, the beginning of my relationship with my mother, being just the BEGINNING of her verbal attacks, nothing ever got any better.
My infancy and childhood with my mother happened within a thick, gooey, sticky, slurpy poisonous stew of malevolent darkness. Sometimes this stew was volcano hot. Sometimes it was glacial cold. My mother had all the power in the universe to keep me a hidden captive underneath its scummy, putrefying crust.
But I stop myself here. I have the power to CHOOSE the words I will put in this book of my infancy-childhood. I will encounter words that suck me into that horrible place. I do not want those words. I am hopeful that I can JUST do my best to tell what few stories I have about what few memories I have and let THAT be THAT.
As I work to write staying on MY path I will need to watch carefully for the defining edges of it so that I don’t fall into the infernos of my mother’s madness. My mind did not form itself for the first 18 years of my life having any idea at all where the boundary line was between my own self and my own mind – and my mother’s. Because she was a severe (though undiagnosed) Borderline, the borders of the universes that separated us did not exist.
My childhood was contaminated. I was born contaminated. There really is no story to tell. There is a description of profound contamination that has more in common with being born out of my mother’s womb into a deadly radioactive environment – that exploded while she was in labor with me.
The truth of what happened to me, even of what happened to my mother IS beyond words. The core of trauma that shaped her and hence shaped me does not exist where words are. In fact, this trauma acted itself out beyond the range of anyone’s detection as if what cannot be named does not exist. It is time to name it.
The so-called stories of my childhood? They are no more about the reality of what happened to me than is my cat’s lose hair stuck to the cushion where she sleeps ACTUALLY my cat. (Great line for the book’s intro, by the way.)
I think about my piano keyboard right now, and imagine that there are notes that are so high and so low that they don’t actually exist on the keyboard because they lie outside the range of human ability to detect them.
My life with my mother was like that. What actually happened DID happen because NOBODY detected the ‘notes’ my mother was playing for me. It is my challenge as a writer to transpose the experience of being raised as my mother’s inhuman, evil devil’s child into a range of notes-words that CAN be heard by others.
Because in the reality of my childhood with my mother words were contaminated weapons, I have to chose words now carefully and run them through a filter so that they can be cleaned and detoxified, decontaminated and made safe for human consumption.
What happened to me from the moment I was born and continued over the next 18 years of my childhood happened ‘under the cloak of darkness’. My mother was able to effectively construct and maintain two worlds. One of these worlds on one side of her Borderline was designed to deceive the public. On the other side of her Borderline was the world that she designed, constructed and maintained JUST FOR ME as her evilness projection.
It is evidently my job to transpose what happened to me on the darkest side of her Borderline into language that can be understood by ‘the public’. I ask two questions:
(1) Is it possible write about wordless terror?
(2) Is it possible to write of this terror beautifully?
In other words, it is time for both me and my newly found writing assistant to become WORD WARRIORS.