+MY WORRY

++++++++++++++++++++++

My dear friend, Dorothy, old homesteading neighbor in Alaska, is printing herself off my mother’s writings from the blog.  Her printer is now complaining, no idea what pages it hasn’t printed, no page numbers when it is printed that way.  Her computer says it has printed 566 pages – so far.   I would have just sent her the files from my computer, at least they have page numbers!

We are grateful for any financial savings on our end, and JV who granted us an interview (another old time Alaskan who knew my mother well) – wants to read M’s writings – so Dorothy is willing to send her printed copy over to JV — but

MY WORRY!

What if one of those big winds blows through like my mother described in her Dark Rainbow Dream (I see in my letters, btw, it was probably partly based on the big February 1959 blow in Anchorage) — and all the pages Dorothy has printed simply return themselves back to the state (just about exactly!) where they all were six years ago when my mother’s papers ended up on my doorstep!

Hard not to smile.  What an image.  What an irony.  And, well. . . . .

What’s that they say about the hallmark of insecure attachment disorders?  Oh, yes, “The inability to tell a coherent narrative of one’s life story.”  In my book, that’s what page numbers are for!  (We hope.)  My mother had a life without dates and page numbers.

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+THIS GIRL’S GOT GUTS

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I am writing myself a kudos post!  I want to give myself credit for the terrific dedication and commitment I have have had over these past, let’s see – – – six years in transcribing my mother’s writings and letters to get them into the form they are in right now.  Today has been an intensely emotional day.  I need to reach out and give myself permission to talk about how I feel with people who love me.  I need to affirm for myself that FEELING is OK.   I have to do this because the part of my work that lies ahead of me is likely to be the hardest of my life.

Thursday my beloveds come – my beloved daughter and my beloved first grandchild who I get to meet for the very first time.  He’s 4 months old now, and even though I am already crying about them leaving before they even get here, I need to let myself feel even that.  Because without my ability to feel what I feel, feel ALL OF WHAT I FEEL, I would miss the breadth and depth and height and absolute miracle of feeling all the love, all the joy, all the hope – – – along with everything else.

I also want to give myself kudos for my courage.  I have one more job to complete before I tackle the really big, hard stuff.  I ‘get’ to put together a total lie of a story about the wonderful time the Lloyd family had on their Alaskan homesteading adventure.  This would be the book far more likely to sell (and Lordy I do need some money) to the general public as an easy-read glance at some American family who decided to – well move to Alaska and homestead.

Over and over again in the 4 volumes I just completed my mother writes that she wanted to write that story.  I don’t think she COULD write it because she — in the end — could not tell the wonderful lie about homesteading that I know she wished were the truth.  Can I write her lie?  Yes, if it will put some food on my table, I certainly can — and I will.

Yet, Linda Girl, how silly is THAT idea?  Perhaps it is the exercise I need — to write the ‘normal family tale’ — well, at least as normal as I can make it while still using my mother’s words.

Contrasted to that will be the book I will write after that.   My guess is that my ++MY CHILDHOOD STORIES will be dropped in between and betwixt the ugly things my mother says about me in her writings (even though she doesn’t begin to tell the truth).  Oh well, I will cross that hot lava volcanic flow when I get to it.

I know I have the courage to write that book.  All I have to do is think about those survivors who suffered abuse as I did, and think about children who are suffering from abuse now — and then try as hard as I possibly can to tell my own truth in hopes that it can help someone SEE why paying attention to what is wrong with a child can shine the light into the darkest places of a child’s life where nobody has ever looked before.

Meanwhile, I have another day to try to move the desert dirt and dust back out of my house.  At least it rained hard yesterday.  The dirt out there is settled for a bit, and that means I can clean inside without it all coming back at me — for now.

And I will practice setting my sadness at my beloveds’ leaving aside for when THAT day comes on the 28th so I can cherish with joy their coming on the 22nd.

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+UNDERSTANDINGS IN STRANGE PLACES: DEPRESSION AND THE ENERGY FROM IRRITABILITY

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As often happens I cannot make much sense out of what I just figured out because in order to turn what I think I just stumbled upon into something I can use to improve myself in my life, I have to articulate it in writing or it won’t make any kind of linear sense.

Not that even the above sentence makes much sense to most people — so let me make it perfectly clear and tell you (and myself) what I just learned from invisible bugs and a feather duster.

I had no memory that I owned a feather duster until just a few minutes ago.  I am trying to clean my house before my daughter and my first grandbaby arrive this coming Thursday.  I never un-kept a house like I do now at almost 59.  When I had children at home for those 35 years of my life, nothing EVER got very ‘dirty’.

I puzzle about that sometimes, and usually all I end up with is that my lack of caring much about my house-home anymore has something to do with my being the only one here and with my depression.  I am disappointed in myself that I am not enthusiastically and happily attacking these months of blown-in fine desert dust that’s in every imaginable place in my house.  I am having to FORCE myself to clean — and that just ‘don’t feel RIGHT’!

So, there I was with my shop vac with its recycled emptied and stapled back together again bag inside it, with my worn, frayed and barely useable (but still vitally necessary) little ‘dusting’ end attacking my back hall shelves.  Nope, don’t start cleaning in the bathroom or living room or kitchen.  I started in the dirtiest place of all, the back hall where I come in with my mud-caked shoes, dump my collection of tools, maintain the cat litter box — well, you get the picture.

So there I was scooting things around on those metal shelves to clean underneath them when lo and behold, there was my unused (bought with best intentions) dark brown ostrich feather feather duster.

“Oh, that’s cool!” I thought to myself.  “Maybe I can figure out a way to move around dust with THAT while I somehow capture it with the vacuum cleaner — at the same time I don’t suck the duster up at the same time!”

I made the mistake of picking UP the feather duster.  Now, you have to live in the desert to appreciate what happened next.  Although the duster appeared intact and good-as-new when I spotted it — it WAS NOT.  In fact, once I grabbed its handle and picked it up, barely half of its feathers came with it.  The rest scattered in every imaginable direction in tiny fragments and breeze-floating pieces.  My only consolation is that I found it before my cleaning was finished or I would have been far more irritable than I WAS.

OK, so there are invisible little mite buggies that eat feathers in the desert.  That’s all I know about them.  They eat feathers — and never again while I live down here (obviously) will I buy another feather duster!  But something clicked at that instant I saw all those teensy bits of ostrich feathers take off in every direction and as I watched how I responded.

I FELT INSTANTLY IRRITATED!  And, with the energy that irritation released, I cleaned the dang bits up!

BIG DEAL?  Yes.

When I get into my work with my book “Unspeakable Madness” where I will fillet and autopsy my mother’s account of those years that spanned my childhood, I am going to face — face-to-face — the truth about my depression.  Without details at this moment, I can say that when I write about my childhood I will be writing about what COULD be called depression.  Simple enough to call it that now.  I was terribly ‘depressed’ as a child.

That depression went magically nowhere when I left home.  I had no idea what it was — of course — and for many years (looking back) I used pot daily to ‘make the depression go away’ so I could get on with my life.  I didn’t know I was self medicating like that, either.

In 1980 when I quit all drug use, looking back from my perspective as the owner of a disintegrated feather duster a few moments ago, I realized that I operated to take care of myself and my children — along with EVERYTHING that entailed — without having to ever realize the extent of my depression — because I knew how to do exactly what I just did when I was HIT with the mess today with that mess of  flying-away feathers.

I used the energy of irritability to live on.

No, I didn’t FEEL the irritability until these recent months.  NEVER did I feel it.  I just USED the energy it created in my body.

DANG!  At least that was SOMETHING!  But that’s like running on an empty gas tank – on the fumes.  That’s like running straight off a car battery without a working charging system in the car.

In fact, that just barely counts as any way to live at all!

++++

So, what I want to articulate here is this:  I bet the irritability comes from (at least for severe child abuse survivors) a profound RAGE that one’s life was stomped on to the point of near extinction.  THAT AIN’T RIGHT, and we KNEW IT!  We knew it THEN as little children and we really (though not consciously unless you are fortunate to have a run-in with a mite eaten feather duster just when you think you can use it most) KNOW IT NOW!

When I am ready now to fillet my mother’s words, I am going to be working face-to-face with my own INNER RAGE at what my mother DID TO ME.  That experience is going to be closer, more powerful and more real than it has ever been in my life.  I can feel it coming!

And with that rage is the terrible, terrible, terrible undeniable sorrow and sadness that was beaten into me nearly every moment of my childhood — at the same time I never knew it was WRONG.  More of that later…..

But for now, I understand more about why it is so hard for me to tackle the cleaning of this house right now.  It isn’t that I don’t love my daughter.  It’s not that I don’t care.  It’s hard because I can no longer find that IRRITABILITY that is a side effect of the anxiety of depression — that is connected to the rage of knowing what caused this depression was a CRIME — so that I can live off of its energy.

I have to do it the hard way now, but using my WILL and by plugging away at the task as if I am deep under the ocean and everything is very heavy and I move very slowly.  But this has to be done.  The feather duster incident only released exactly enough irritation energy to clean up THAT  mess.  No more.  Nothing extra.  No extra irritation there to use to go hand up the laundry.

So, I better get to it — one dang way or the other!!!!!!  It’s a job that really has to get done — but at the same time I look back at my child-raising years and marvel at how effectively I managed to LIVE off of the irritation energy of my depression — and not even know it.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

+A BREAK IN THE LONG STRING OF TIME

++++++++++++++++

If being in the middle of a traumatic experience (peritrauma) involves a distortion of the perception of time, then perhaps most people alive on the planet today are in the midst of some traumatic experience or another because it seems to be true at least within our own culture that we suffer from a nearly complete dissociation regarding the passing of time as it is connected to the consequences of our actions.

When we live as if we believe the only concern we have to think about is our own personal well-being (and perhaps that of our family, and/or our local community and perhaps of our nation) we are living as if what we can SEE is all that matters.  We can’t SEE those who are long dead before us.  We can’t SEE those generations ahead of us in the future that have yet to be born.  Therefore, “out of sight, out of mind.”

If we truly believed that all that matters to us is exactly what we can SEE, then our perception of what is real in the world would be so limited we couldn’t function much better than a one-year-old could.  Can we, do WE KNOW BETTER?

So how is it that we can destroy the environment of our planet because we feel free to consume as many resources as we can lay our hands on while leaving as little as we can for the generations yet to come?  It wouldn’t take much effort or thought on current generations’ part to imagine what kind of a world is being prepared for those who will come after our own bodies are dirt or ashes.  Do we intend to be so selfish?  Do we intend to be so greedy?  Do we intend to be so stupid?  Are our intentions truly as malevolent as they will probably appear to those 100 years from now who look back on the actions of those living on this grand planet right now?

Or do most people suffer from some kind of ongoing in-the-moment lack of ability to conceive of the passage of time as being connected to the consequences of human actions?  Is everyone stuck in some version of outright dissociation in the midst of peritrauma so that they can learn nothing, think about nothing, change nothing, feel nothing?

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Dissociation involves a break in the continuous thread of awareness of experience and a break in the ability to respond competently and effectively to challenges happening within the current environment during the ongoing moments of time.  Dissociation involves one moment or a long chain of moments where all that happens is a great big, “OOPS!”

The problem is that when people are in the midst of a peritraumatic OOPS! experience they are SO IN THE PRESENT SPLIT SECOND of time that they cannot possibly be objective.  Objectivity happens once trauma has stopped and life is back on track ‘as normal-ordinary’.  That is what trauma is, an experience of harm and threat of harm that is EXTRAORDINARY or outside the range of ordinary.   It would be the task and responsibility for people NOT in the midst of trauma to be able to SEE and understand the bigger picture.

So, it seems to me if nearly everyone is in some kind of peritraumatic state that means that the ‘normal-ordinary’ passage of time has been altered, who is left to be objectively concerned about what the living H — is going on?

Well, maybe this dissociated state where awareness of the passage of time along with awareness of future consequences of actions in connection to the past IS normal and ordinary for our species.  Maybe the only responsible party in the whole bunch is our actual DNA itself along with its machinery that tells our DNA what to do (and remembers).  Maybe it is only within the molecular operation of our bodies that true awareness and intelligent action exists.  Maybe ongoing life has always known that humans will just be humans:  A bunch of oblivious one-year-olds.

That we like to call ourselves “The Wise Ones” has nothing to do with the truth.  It just means that even one-year-olds must be able to have delusions of grandeur.  Well, maybe we have advanced to being two-year-olds now.  At least we have the power to speak.

And I personally feel much better now that I’ve put the big picture into better perspective!

++++++++++++++++

+I JUST HAVE TO DO THIS – LINKS TO ALL FOUR VOLUMES

+++++++++++++++++++++++

I want to see this all together – wish someone would hop on over to format these Table of Contents for me – ah, for another day:

*HOPE FOR A MOUNTAIN: MILDRED’S ALASKAN HOMESTEADING TALE – VOLUME ONE – BEGINNING A DREAM

PART ONE:  WAITING AND THE LOVE LETTERS

ONE               Don’t Ever Leave Me Again (14)

TWO             Find Me a House So I Can Come Home (49)

THREE          If You Care About Me and Our Future (73)

FOUR           Fear of Sand in the New Car (108)

FIVE              The Worst Is Over With (140)

PART TWO:  ARRIVING NORTH AND SETTLING IN

SIX                  So Keen on Alaska (172)

SEVEN          No Hicks Here (197)

EIGHT           Now That the Trees Are Bare (235)

NINE              He Will Do the Winter Driving (262)

TEN                All Mean Well I Guess (As Women Can) (297)

°<>°<>°<>°

*HOPE FOR A MOUNTAIN: MILDRED’S ALASKAN HOMESTEADING TALE – VOLUME TWO – LIVING FOR THE LAND

PART ONE:  IT WILL WORK OUT ONE MOVE AT A TIME

ONE             Bill Will File on the Land Tomorrow

TWO            On a Merry Chase from Morn to Morn – and I’m Not Kidding

THREE        I’ll Homestead In Summertime, thank you!

FOUR          Oh How, Oh How Will I Ever Manage??

FIVE            We’re Both So Upset and Yet Determined

SIX               I’ll Give Up Anything for Our Homestead

PART TWO:  SUCH BEAUTY FOR INSPIRATION AND PEACE THAT CAN’T BE FOUND IN TODAY’S CIVILIZATION

SEVEN           Little Pieces of This Rock

EIGHT           Stick To My Land Here Like Glue

NINE              How Much Of a Beating Can We Take?

TEN                We Belong On Our Land for All Time

ELEVEN        It’s Really an Almost HOLY Feeling

TWELVE       Homesteaders Even In Alaska Are Becoming Extinct

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*HOPE FOR A MOUNTAIN: MILDRED’S ALASKAN HOMESTEADING TALE – VOLUME THREE – IN THE THICK OF HOMESTEADING

PART ONE:  THE WORLD MUST STAY WIDE OPEN AND WE’LL CRACK IT

ONE                I wish, I want – WHAT?

TWO              We Did It Just In Time

THREE         Treat of Hot Rolls and Celery

FOUR            Today Is Today and I’ll Figure Next Winter Later

FIVE              We’ve Proved We Can Take It Hard and Tough

SIX                  I Must Straighten Out My Life First

PART TWO:  WONDER IF I’M DOING RIGHT EVEN FOR ONE SUMMER 

SEVEN          Anything Is Possible

EIGHT           I’m Fed Up To the Gills with Living Like This

NINE               One Step Forward and Ten Backward

TEN                  It Was a Thoroughly Mixed Up Affair

ELEVEN          360 Pounds of Meat

TWELVE        Maybe When We Return Someday

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*HOPE FOR A MOUNTAIN: MILDRED’S ALASKAN HOMESTEADING TALE – VOLUME FOUR– TITLE TO THE HOMESTEAD AND BEYOND

PART ONE:  IT’S A STATE OF NECESSITY

ONE                    I Want a Home But Where!

TWO                   For God’s Sake Bill Make Up Your Mind

THREE                 Nobody Ever Mentioned ‘Nervous Breakdown’ To Me

FOUR                  Very Strong Premonition of Disaster

FIVE                    Leprechauns Were Listening!!

SIX                       Back in Alaska Someday but Not Now

SEVEN                What a Life!

PART TWO:  FULL CIRCLE AND BACK TO THE BEGINNING

EIGHT                Family History

NINE                  Mildred’s Mothers Autobiographical Writings

TEN                    Mildred’s Childhood Stories

ELEVEN            Mildred’s Writings – 1940s

TWELVE           Mildred’s Diaries – 1950s

APPENDIX A   Words about Mildred by Alaskan Women Who Knew Her

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+VOLUME FOUR OF MILDRED’S LETTERS DONE TODAY

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

You guessed it – the link here to Volume Four of my mother’s writings:

*HOPE FOR A MOUNTAIN: MILDRED’S ALASKAN HOMESTEADING TALE – VOLUME FOUR– TITLE TO THE HOMESTEAD AND BEYOND

°<>°<>°<>°

PART ONE:  IT’S A STATE OF NECESSITY

ONE                    I Want a Home But Where!

TWO                   For God’s Sake Bill Make Up Your Mind

THREE                 Nobody Ever Mentioned ‘Nervous Breakdown’ To Me

FOUR                  Very Strong Premonition of Disaster

FIVE                    Leprechauns Were Listening!!

SIX                       Back in Alaska Someday but Not Now

SEVEN                What a Life!

PART TWO:  FULL CIRCLE AND BACK TO THE BEGINNING

EIGHT                Family History

NINE                  Mildred’s Mothers Autobiographical Writings

TEN                    Mildred’s Childhood Stories

ELEVEN            Mildred’s Writings – 1940s

TWELVE           Mildred’s Diaries – 1950s

APPENDIX A   Words about Mildred by Alaskan Women Who Knew Her

°<>°<>°<>°

note:  Table of Contents is too hard to format in this blog form – what it looks like published here is nothing like what it looks like on my edit page!  All is temporary here — Once these volumes are published, the text as I am posting over there will be removed in bulk and replaced by a few little quotes – now is the time (even though still in proof stages) to read this entire work FREE!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

+MY MOTHER’S AND MY OWN PATTERNS OF ‘HOPE FOR A MOUNTAIN’

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I need to write this morning – some aftermath thoughts from last few intensely focused hard-work days on those volumes!  I am thinking about ‘articulation’, how I need to articulate in written form.  Is that the same thing as needing to write?  Did my mother NEED to write?

Just the sheer ‘volume’ of the words I have tackled in this process with my mother’s writings is staggering.  At the same time I know all the writings did not survive (most fortunately from my point of view!).  Yet how many people really would have had the desire and the motivation to chronicle even such a story as dragging your family to the hinterlands of Alaska to homestead?

Do we today not notice our desire to articulate, express our self and communicate because advances in technology let us do it now with imperceptible ease?

On all the levels within my own self that are being affected as a result of this process I am involved with, some breach the surface in different ways at different stages.  Right now as my mother’s words are nearly exactly in linear place along the line of time that covers her story — and at the same time covers my childhood — I realize that in very serious and comprehensive ways I was never allowed to ‘grow up’.

In some distant, remote and very, very LATE ways I am going through some of that process now.  As I record in digital form the tales that my mother tells I find there are points when I actually feel stunned to realize how OLD I was, and how OLD my siblings were when some of the events Mildred describes occurred.  Because of the severe abuse I never got to ‘leave something behind’ as I grew up.  The same ‘crimes’ that I had been ‘guilty’ of committing starting with my birth were attached to the history of the child who was Linda so that they dragged right along with me like an unending series of cannonballs attached to my body, mind, soul and self.

I was never allowed to outgrow anything, and looking at the ‘story’ now as I proof its complete text, I see that the invisible parts of the story my mother did not record are as present to me as I work with the span of time that was my childhood as are the memories of what she DID record.  That long, long, long terrible chain of connected cannonballs is still here – because all those things were beat into me over and over and over and over again — until I simply ‘left home’.

There never was a transition from being an infant to a toddler, to a young child, to a prepubescent, to an adolescent and then into a young woman.  I was never given ‘privileges’ that advanced along with my expanding age range.  I was never complimented, encouraged, recognized for any growing ability to do anything — except to be increasingly beaten for the ever-longer list of crimes my mother always remembered as being who LINDA was.

I am not sure that I can articulate this.  According to my mother’s disturbed and distorted sense of the passage of time, and because that was all tied up with her ‘splitting’ and projection of evil-badness onto me, I not only had to remain in a continual state of peritrauma (in the midst of ongoing trauma) but looking at this time line now, my mother remained in that state herself.  Nothing ever changed, nothing ever got better, nothing was ever examined as useless or harmful and then discarded.  Nothing was ever learned from the consequences of repeated patterns of mistakes that she made (made together with my father).

I suspect on an underlying and as yet unexamined level, I believe that an extremely young-early-formed force literally dragged my mother forward in her life.  It seems strange to me, but what I name that force —  that both dragged her forward at the same time it beckoned her so that she blindly followed it (and yes, this feels like a sinister force because it was so ‘sick’) — is HOPE.

I am not talking about healthy hope here.  I am talking about hope that is supposed to form itself right into a newborn’s growing brain structure and operation, into a newly forming body and nervous system.  I am talking about hope for life that keeps a human being alive (any creature) at all costs.

The fulfillment of HOPE is what a safe and secure attachment provides for us.  (I’ll write more of this in the future.)

For now I will just say that I had no hope as a child.  It was all but murdered by my mother (and father).  Without that hope, and in the presence of great harm, there was no chance for me to be celebrated into my growing-up life.  Hope did not sit within me as my friend and guiding light.  And without hope, time did not exist.  I did not exist as a separate HUMAN BEING moving forward through the growth and developmental stages of my childhood.

What this means at this moment is that I do not recognize myself as being increasingly older, in a bigger body, having made significant advancements in my childhood.  I read my mother’s ‘story’ from some remote, depersonalized, disembodied viewer’s point of view — because I DID NOT exist as a person as I went through my childhood.

None of my siblings did either, really.  We were my mother’s props.  All her children started out as cute baby dolls (except me – but she could at least tolerate me better when I was tiny and could not express being-a-real-person).  She kept having babies (doll babies) as long as she could.  She had no idea what a child was.

So how does a prop (object-projection) look at itself as having a feeling-felt autobiographical history over time?

It is not as easy as some people might imagine it to be to go back over a story that was one’s childhood and snatch out the truth — like it is all passing by on a conveyor belt and you can pick out the GOOD and ignore the BAD and let it slide right on by.

++++

My mother’s severe, chronic and terrible abuse of me killed my hope as a child except for one solitary, amazing, grand, majestic and perfect thing.  I HOPED for that mountain.

When severe infant-child abuse keeps a developing human being in a permanent state of peritrauma (the trauma never stops), the trauma becomes an integral part of their physiology.  It cannot be ‘picked’ off of the assembly line and tossed away.  It has built itself into the molecular operation of the entire body-brain of the survivor.

In my case, the existence of that mountain and our existence ON it and WITH it had such a positive effect on me that my capacity to HOPE remained pure, untarnished, untainted, uncontaminated and helpful to me.  In fact, it saved my life.  My hope capacity had simply remained dormant and was waiting within me with all its powers until I met Alaska and that mountain.

I am naming these volumes of my mother’s writings “Hope for a Mountain” because the same thing happened to her.  But there was one critically important difference between how that “Hope for a Mountain” operated for my mother and how it operated (and still operates within my physiology) for me.

My mother’s capacity to hope was contaminated in her infant-childhood.  That fact will become clear when I reach the stage of being able to write “Unspeakable Madness.”

The entire multi-volume story of my mother’s is about contaminated hope.  My story with that mountain is a story about UNCONTAMINATED hope.

I could sit in awe of the miracle of human resiliency that it is, that the experience of HOPE was still possible for me as a child by the time that mountain became a part of my life, and the life of my family.  Yet at this point AWE will get me nowhere.  Perhaps admiration for my own little self?  No, that won’t do anything for me (yet) either.

Water naturally flows downhill.  Pure hope naturally exists.

When water is prevented through some aberration of its natural inclination from flowing downhill, we have a thwarted natural process — and/or a contaminated one.

At this moment as I try to articulate for myself that as I ‘watch’ my mother’s story that covers a span of my childhood, I am seeing that her hatred of me (who I was to HER) prevented me from moving, or flowing forward, through the stages of my childhood.  To her, I was still all the horrible ‘things’ that I had always been (and the pattern is there in her writings – and I intend to bring them forth clearly in “Unspeakable Madness”).

I simply had the capacity to hope from the time I was born.  My capacity for hope was not allowed to ‘come forth’ into the world – or even into the operation of my physiology much past the most basic levels of hope for water, food, sleep or use of a toilet (all of which was interfered with at times by my mother’s abuse).

My mother’s infant-childhood patterns, I believe, were very different from my own.  That also belongs in another, separate body of my writings.  BETRAYED hope, CONTAMINATED hope.  That was my mother’s early experience.

That’s far different from having no hope fulfillment at all.

Yet because the capacity to have HOPE is evidently one of humans’ most powerful resiliency factors, once I ‘accidentally wandered’ through a young life course (being put there by my parents) to a PLACE where my HOPE could flow — well — it would be hard to find an example in anyone’s childhood experience where HOPE could have been more pure, powerful and REAL than it was for me.

++++

My mother DID feel it too.  I think we were equally in love with that mountain.  In that love both of our powers to experience PURE HOPE were equal.  HOPE is a shared human experience — and we WERE both human.

But my mother could not STAY there.  She never realized the reality of her own NEEDS that her being on that mountain met.  Everything my mother had hoped for since she was born ‘came true’ when she was on that mountain.  But she didn’t KNOW that.

Her hope for that mountain was a hope for the healing of her soul, her mind, her personality, her childhood woundedness that she could never ARTICULATE no matter how many words she scribbled on her thousands of papers.  And like water through a sieve, her hope disappeared with every breath she ever inhaled and exhaled on that mountain.  She, herself was the sieve at the same time she had an insatiable thirst for the ‘waters’ of pure hope’s fulfillment.

By the time I was six and a half the mountain took form in our family even before I had ever seen it.  The hope my mother had, and my father had for that mountain and for their homesteaded 160 acre piece of it, was the most healing force that ever flowed through our family.  But that’s just it:  It flowed right on through like transfused blood would flow through someone’s gaping-open mortal wound.

++++

I, however, was not an open ‘hope sieve’.  The relationship I had between that ‘place’ and my ‘self’ — well — it worked!  The hope and love and my experience with the land flowed into me entirely and it fed me, sustained me, helped me, fed me, healed me and allowed me to grow new brain and body and mind and soul connections inside my growing self that, in the end, not only kept me alive but let me ‘grow up’ in a good way.

As I write this post, as I am articulating what is inside of me, and therefore what IS ME at this moment, I have to say that I don’t believe it is possible to separate these four aspects of being here on this planet:  Life, the Life Force, Love, and Hope.  I believe they all exist together and are in reality the exact same thing.

Every single one of us has all four of these aspects operating or we would be dead.  The problem with my mother was that they were ‘all mixed up’ (a term she used many, many times in her writings) because her experience in life had been contaminated by attachment trauma.

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As counter-intuitive as this might seem, I suspect that it was exactly because of the moving my mother did up and down the mountain and off and on the homestead that was like the high-powered fertilizer that nourished my own power to hope.  Like Heidi in the story book, my very life force was invested in BEING ON THAT MOUNTAIN.  With every move our family did on and off the mountain, my life force ebbed and waned at the same time my safe and secure attachment body-brain connections grew and grew and grew.

WHY?  Because our attachment physiology, which forms the core of how our body-nervous system-brain-mind operates in our body, has to be exercised through PATTERNS OF RUPTURE AND REPAIR.  As long as we returned at some point to the mountain so that I could repair the rupture I had when we were away from it, I was fine.

Believe me, I was allowed to PRACTICE growing my hope body-brain circuitry.  Leave the mountain – hope for a return – return – hope fulfilled.  Leave the mountain – hope for a return – return – hope fulfilled.  Over and over again (as you can see by reading the volumes I have provided the links to).

But the passage of time itself only existed to me within this particular attachment relationship that I had with that mountain and the wilderness the homestead was a part of.  Time in the natural world exists primarily through patterns of rainfall and snowfall, patterns of wind, patterns of freezing and thawing, of new plant life, bearing blossoms and fruit, seasonal death and rebirth, yearly growth of bushes and trees.   These passages of time were not marked for me in any personal autobiographical-Gee!Whiz!-this-is-me-growing-into-adulthood way.  They simply happened.

When I titled Chapter 7 in Volume One, “Little Pieces of This Rock,” I was certainly talking about my own self as being a piece of that mountain.  In some ways I believe we all were exactly that.  The time of my childhood thus more closely matched the time of an unfurling fern, or the time of a coming wind down the valley flipping each leaf over in succession until the mountainsides turned silver instead of green with its approach, or the time of the movement of the snow line up and down through the seasons high above the mountains’ timber line, or the time it took from my hearing the first faint calls from a massive V of migrating geese until I watched them glide far above the mountain peaks until the sight and the sound of them vanished — until the time they passed over again going in the opposite direction.

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This writing I have done this morning has allowed me to articulate a profound level upon which I stand in relation to this ‘story’ of my mother’s.  I have articulated how my experience with hope fed, sustained and healed me — in permanent ways.

My mother’s experience with the feeding, sustaining and healing powers of the mountain and of her relationship with it continually appeared and then vaporized over and over and over and over again.  She had no way to step aside from the grownup body she was living in that had already formed itself within an environment that gave her shattered hope experiences and betrayed ones.

My mother was taken (at least during summers) to ‘the country’ when she was growing up.  Love of the natural world was a part of her life — but she was RAISED in the city and I know the powers of the land did not have a chance to form and heal her on the levels that it did for me, nor did those experiences have the power to counteract all the other attachment trauma and suffering she experienced as a child within her home.  (This is a major theme in her story I will focus on in “Unspeakable Madness.”)

But her ‘buried psyche’ recognized through resonating love for the natural world those experiences of her childhood as being directly connected to her experiences with the LAND of Alaska.  But she could not consciously understand what all of this MEANT so that she could use her Alaska experiences with the land to CHANGE HERSELF into a more healed person.

Her deep connection with the wilderness did sustain her, but she could not sustain her healthy, healing hope.  Yes, there were all the details of being an adult and of being a parent that presented all the obstacles she describes in her writings.  But the Mildred that COULD have been present to face those obstacles — and here I must say IN THE PRESENT moments of her life — was all tangled up in trauma-altered developmental ways that nobody ever understood.

That she happened to hate me and torture me for the eighteen years of my childhood because all I could ever be to her was an ‘evil figment of her imagination’, was just one piece of the story of my mother’s life that she writes about (or I should say, DOES NOT WRITE ABOUT) in this collection of her words I am working with.

The bigger picture of her life was HERS alone, and the ability to sustain healthy, uncontaminated  hope was barely, barely a part of it.

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+VOLUME THREE OF MILDRED’S LETTERS DONE TODAY

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My daughter found this today:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cahill

We have no idea who put my mother on Wikipedia as “Alaskan Homesteader!”  In her own writings Mildred spells her middle name “Anne.”  We do not have a copy of her birth certificate, but I might need to get one before I spell her name on these books!  She homesteaded as Mildred (Ann?  Anne?) Cahill LLOYD, though!

Well, I DID IT!  Today I completed volume three of my mother’s writings and here is the link – (links at bottom for first two volumes — and there’s no good way to do columns straight on this WordPress blog – oh well!):

*HOPE FOR A MOUNTAIN: MILDRED’S ALASKAN HOMESTEADING TALE – VOLUME THREE – IN THE THICK OF HOMESTEADING

PART ONE:  THE WORLD MUST STAY WIDE OPEN AND WE’LL CRACK IT

ONE                I wish, I want – WHAT?

TWO              We Did It Just In Time

THREE         Treat of Hot Rolls and Celery

FOUR            Today Is Today and I’ll Figure Next Winter Later

FIVE              We’ve Proved We Can Take It Hard and Tough

SIX                  I Must Straighten Out My Life First

PART TWO:  WONDER IF I’M DOING RIGHT EVEN FOR ONE SUMMER 

SEVEN          Anything Is Possible

EIGHT           I’m Fed Up To the Gills with Living Like This

NINE               One Step Forward and Ten Backward

TEN                  It Was a Thoroughly Mixed Up Affair

ELEVEN          360 Pounds of Meat

TWELVE        Maybe When We Return Someday

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*HOPE FOR A MOUNTAIN: MILDRED’S ALASKAN HOMESTEADING TALE – VOLUME ONE – BEGINNING A DREAM

PART ONE:  WAITING AND THE LOVE LETTERS

ONE               Don’t Ever Leave Me Again (14)

TWO             Find Me a House So I Can Come Home (49)

THREE          If You Care About Me and Our Future (73)

FOUR           Fear of Sand in the New Car (108)

FIVE              The Worst Is Over With (140)

PART TWO:  ARRIVING NORTH AND SETTLING IN

SIX                  So Keen on Alaska (172)

SEVEN          No Hicks Here (197)

EIGHT           Now That the Trees Are Bare (235)

NINE              He Will Do the Winter Driving (262)

TEN                All Mean Well I Guess (As Women Can) (297)

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*HOPE FOR A MOUNTAIN: MILDRED’S ALASKAN HOMESTEADING TALE – VOLUME TWO – LIVING FOR THE LAND

PART ONE:  IT WILL WORK OUT ONE MOVE AT A TIME

ONE             Bill Will File on the Land Tomorrow

TWO            On a Merry Chase from Morn to Morn – and I’m Not Kidding

THREE        I’ll Homestead In Summertime, thank you!

FOUR          Oh How, Oh How Will I Ever Manage??

FIVE            We’re Both So Upset and Yet Determined

SIX               I’ll Give Up Anything for Our Homestead

PART TWO:  SUCH BEAUTY FOR INSPIRATION AND PEACE THAT CAN’T BE FOUND IN TODAY’S CIVILIZATION

SEVEN           Little Pieces of This Rock

EIGHT           Stick To My Land Here Like Glue

NINE              How Much Of a Beating Can We Take?

TEN                We Belong On Our Land for All Time

ELEVEN        It’s Really an Almost HOLY Feeling

TWELVE       Homesteaders Even In Alaska Are Becoming Extinct


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+MILDRED’S WRITINGS – WHAT ‘STUDY GROUP’ QUESTIONS DO THEY PRESENT?

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I do want to add one thing here before I lose this little piece of pink-pad paper that I scrawled these notes down on last night after I completed the major edit-proof of the second volume of Mildred’s writings I just posted links to.  I know there are some important levels to my mother’s story – some that are obvious and some that are not.  Each of these levels can contribute something to the overall study of human nature, and I believe each of them is worthy of ‘book study group’ investigation.

The history of the roles of women is a big theme behind all womens’ lives, but especially so for my mother who was born (1925) into a family with a professional (and soon divorced – 1930) mother.  My mother was the product of one of the first kinds of ‘broken homes’ that have since swept America.

What were the limitations imposed on my mother as a result of her choice to be a ‘housewife’ and ‘homemaker’ rather than a ‘career woman’?  What does it mean to ‘have a home’ and ‘to make a home’?

Mildred’s story also contains a powerful example of America’s obsession with WEIGHT as well as with America’s obsession with MONEY (including the consequence of sickness and the costs of medical attention).  I can write a series of ‘study group’ questions about these concerns, as well.  Another important thread is the topic of parenting and the developmental stages of children (and their rights) — which I believe is closely tied to the topic of love for the land itself:  What is our personal feeling relationship with this glorious planet we live on?  (Yes, my mother could love that mountain and its valley at the same time she could commit terrible acts of harm against a child.  What went so wrong?)

What ‘used to happen’ to womens’ talents and gifts – and now?  What did it mean to be a brilliant woman?  An educated one?  What about choices for women to marry or not, bear children or not, ‘wear the pants in the family’ or not?  What has it always meant to girls and women when the ‘boys’ in the family were so cherished – spoiled – favored – and not the girls?  How do male relations influence the development of girls?

Of course the history of American pioneer women relates to this story.  Although my mother asserts that her husband ‘was behind’ the move to Alaska and the homesteading itself, I don’t believe he was.  How many women actually were behind their family’s immigrations and pioneering efforts — rather than the men?  And thus changed the course of history?

What do we value?  What do we want?  What do we hope and dream for?  What are the obstacles we face, and what do we do about them?  What are ALL our resources – how do we identify them, expand them, control them and use them?   How do we plan for the future?  How do we learn from our mistakes — and what do we learn?  How do we incorporate the changes that ‘growing through a lifespan’ gives to us – no matter what?

What is the truth, the REAL truth about our closest relationships?  What is the truth about how we were raised as children and about how our parents treat us as adults?  What do we, particularly as women, believe about friendships with women?  Who supports us in our greatest hours of need?

What have we learned from our ‘culture’ – particularly from the culture of our families ‘back then’ as immigrants to this great nation who brought with them their cultures-of-origin?  How does our ‘social standing’ affect how we see ourselves and others?  How does our culture, including our stereotypes and prejudices limit us?  How do we OUTGROW ideas and beliefs that are not helpful to well-being?

What do we disclose about our ‘personal’ and ‘intimate’ life?  How do we decide what to ‘expose’ and what to bury away and keep hidden at all costs?  This invisible ‘boundary’ and ‘borderline’ dividing the two has changed rapidly in recent American history.  What do these changes mean to us all?  (My mother would have died of rage and mortification and  made sure I left this world with her if she had ever known what I (her despised daughter, especially) was going to do with her ‘private’ words!  Yet the law states when a person dies (and she IS dead 2002) their rights to any words they leave behind dies with them.)

The unrecognized mental illness, of course, completely taints my mother’s story at the same time that her severe child abusing actions are omitted.  After I completed my efforts last night these ‘study group’ questions immediately popped into my mind and then out onto this little piece of pink paper:

What is mental illness?

Where does it come from?

Who gets it?

How do we recognize it?

What can be done about it?

Is it a doomsday sentence?

Does it make a person ‘flawed’ or ‘bad’?

Will it get better?

How does it affect the people we love and who love us?

Is there hope for new choice, change and healing?

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Once I have completed all four of these volumes, the bigger picture of my mother, Mildred, and of her life’s many different patterns will emerge.  Those intermixing threads will then be identified and examined individually and as they intermingle with one another.

I do not believe that what we so blithely refer to as ‘bad genes’ that ’cause mental illness’ operate in a vacuum.  A combination of powerful early developmental forces combine their influence to send a tiny growing child off on a trajectory that can END UP being extremely problematic.  My mother’s Alaskan homesteading story is a case study as well as an historical document about one single women — who, yes, dared to go where only a small handful of ‘modern women’ chose to go.

What, on all its multiple levels, can we learn from her story?  I personally have yet to find out.

AND most importantly, how do we recognize child abusing parents and protect their children?

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NOTE:  Any blog readers that wish to, please post comments including ‘study group’ topic suggestions (and questions for them) at the end of the volumes of my mother’s writings at these links I present (or at the end of this post):

*HOPE FOR A MOUNTAIN: MILDRED’S ALASKAN HOMESTEADING TALE – VOLUME ONE – BEGINNING A DREAM

*HOPE FOR A MOUNTAIN: MILDRED’S ALASKAN HOMESTEADING TALE – VOLUME TWO – LIVING FOR THE LAND


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+MY MOTHER’S NAME IN WICKIPEDIA – NEED TO WRITE HER AN ARTICLE THERE

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Interesting, my daughter just sent me this from Wickipedia:

Mildred Ann Cahill (1925-2002) Alaskan homesteader”

My mother’s rich, rich brother isn’t listed there.  Click on link, interesting info on origins of Irish name, “Cahill.”  They make no note in this entry of her married name, “Lloyd” here.

Does make me realize that I don’t think my mother spells her own middle name in her writings, and we don’t have her birth certificate so I don’t know if the “e” is attached to her middle name or not — from this Wickipedia info, I guess NOT!

I probably need to have someone who knows computer code help me post a page on Mildred on Wickipedia before the books are published (I can’t do it, I don’t know coding).  Once the four volumes are completed I will have my family help me with that project!

These chapter headings I chose from her words are worthy of ‘homesteading history’ exploration — as is the entire story itself:

*HOPE FOR A MOUNTAIN: MILDRED’S ALASKAN HOMESTEADING TALE – VOLUME TWO – LIVING FOR THE LAND

PART ONE:  IT WILL WORK OUT ONE MOVE AT A TIME

ONE             Bill Will File on the Land Tomorrow

TWO            On a Merry Chase from Morn to Morn – and I’m Not Kidding

THREE        I’ll Homestead In Summertime, thank you!

FOUR          Oh How, Oh How Will I Ever Manage??

FIVE            We’re Both So Upset and Yet Determined

SIX               I’ll Give Up Anything for Our Homestead

PART TWO:  SUCH BEAUTY FOR INSPIRATION AND PEACE THAT CAN’T BE FOUND IN TODAY’S CIVILIZATION

SEVEN           Little Pieces of This Rock

EIGHT           Stick To My Land Here Like Glue

NINE              How Much Of a Beating Can We Take?

TEN                We Belong On Our Land for All Time

ELEVEN        It’s Really an Almost HOLY Feeling

TWELVE       Homesteaders Even In Alaska Are Becoming Extinct

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I am now going to take a much needed ‘vacation’ before I tackle the formation of the ‘final files’ for the other two volumes of her writings and get ready for my family coming to visit — and to get ready!!!

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See also:

*HOPE FOR A MOUNTAIN: MILDRED’S ALASKAN HOMESTEADING TALE – VOLUME ONE – BEGINNING A DREAM

PART ONE:  WAITING AND THE LOVE LETTERS

ONE               Don’t Ever Leave Me Again (14)

TWO              Find Me a House So I Can Come Home (49)

THREE          If You Care About Me and Our Future (73)

FOUR            Fear of Sand in the New Car (108)

FIVE              The Worst Is Over With (140)

PART TWO:  ARRIVING NORTH AND SETTLING IN

SIX                  So Keen on Alaska (172)

SEVEN          No Hicks Here (197)

EIGHT            Now That the Trees Are Bare (235)

NINE              He Will Do the Winter Driving (262)

TEN                All Mean Well I Guess (As Women Can) (297)

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