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Archive for August, 2011

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Crossing the threshold into my 60th year last night was a little bumpier than I anticipated.  Wide awake at 1:00 a.m., I decided to pick up and read the slim book given to me yesterday as a birthday gift by a friend.  For everyone engaged in a struggle to find a way to truthfully and accurately consider what gender might mean in this advancing, maturing stage of human evolution the essay and comments in this book offer some important insights:

Journey to the Father:  New Perspectives on Gender and the Baha’I Revelation by Joell Ann Vanderwagen.

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I have now been engaged in active healing from the first 18 years of my life I spent under the malevolent influence of my severely abusive Borderline Personality Disorder Mother and her accomplice, my father, for half of my lifespan.  During those 30 years I have never been able to begin to grasp on any level that felt true and genuine the nature of my father’s actions while I was growing up.

Nothing I have ever learned or thought about in all this time has ever ‘clicked’ for me in my efforts to ‘know’ my father until I read this small book in the first wee hours of my 60th year of life last night.  Nothing has seemed right, felt right and therefore nothing has been right in its potential to elucidate for me the role my father chose to take in regard to the terrible treatment my mother forced on me until I read Vanderwagen’s essay and her comments.  It’s like I have been wandering for all these years down a sterile empty hallway, encountering door after door after door upon which I have knocked and found no answer about my father.

I know all kinds of assorted ‘facts’ about Father’s upbringing, about what might have – or did – contribute to the sterile and ineffectual man he grew up to be.  Yes, he was a provider for our family of material support.  Yes, he was evidently professionally capable as a civil engineer.  Yes, he accomplished what needed to be done to homestead 160 acres in Alaska.  Yes, he remained married to Mother and thus had a physical presence during my childhood.  But as I work my way through writing my childhood story for book publication the Father I encounter in every memory where he was present includes him as a cardboard cutout figure, a shadow of a human being, standing – no, really lurking – at the edges of my memories of terrible abuse being perpetrated against me by my mother.

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What I read in this book last night does not surprise me.  The author’s words are new and offer a new take on the entire realm of gender considerations in Western culture if not on gender throughout the past evolution of our human species.  What impresses me is that the new words I found in my reading last night for the FIRST TIME ring with truth about my father and about the ‘parental unit’ of my parents.

I needed NEW to find TRUE, because my inner instinct about healing from child abuse trauma has guided me with a bright light all the way not only through these past 30 years of healing, but also instinctively throughout the first 18 years of my life that were so hurtful to me and has up until last night came up with nothing meaningful about my father.  Zippo.  Zilch.  For this 30 years of searching I have always come up empty handed because I was searching along the wrong path.

I am a part of a culture that is based on wrong beliefs that were built into society as if they were true facts.  Vanderwagen notes simply and clearly how beliefs about gender proposed by Plato and Aristotle fed assumptions that men are superior to women.  Because, in spite of myself, I have searched for answers about my parents within the thinking patterns of my own culture I have encountered essential lies within lies.  I have found no truth and therefore no foundation of understanding because I found no way to think clearly outside my society’s faulty streams of information.

Most simply put, there is a very clear visual graphic on page 21 of Vanderwagen’s book coupled with another one on page 25 that turned the proverbial light on in my thinking about my father, about my mother, and about their interactions as my ‘parental unit’.  According to the author’s presentation humans of both sexes, even with their obvious differences, are completely equal as are the two wings of a bird.  On their essential human level the qualities each gender possesses can be honed, perfected and presented equally by both women and men – or not.

Four distinct qualities are presented for ‘masculine’ and for ‘feminine’ along with what is expressed should these qualities be non-existent.  This picture exactly describes my parents:

Masculine:  existence of qualities – strong, forceful, active, assertive

Masculine:  non-existence of qualities – weak, timid, inert, passive

Feminine:  existence of qualities – gentle, tender, receptive, responsive

Feminine:  non-existence of qualities – rough, brutal, closed, rejecting

While humans grow into maturity by choosing to bring forth not only the best of the qualities that come more naturally to their gender, we are also obligated to develop those qualities within us that belong more easily to our opposite gender.  This balance springs forth into our lives as a flexible wisdom.  This balance brings well-being and goodness into the expressions of our self – our soul (which has no gender) – in our life.

Looking solely at my parents in terms of their gender represented by them in my life as Father and Mother, during my 18 year abusive childhood this was the picture:

The non-existence of masculine qualities listed above clearly and accurately describes my father:  weak, timid, inert, passive

The non-existence of feminine qualities clearly and accurately describes my mother:  rough, brutal, closed, rejecting

My parents were a mess!  Neither of my parents was self-aware.  Neither possessed a desire or motivation to improve their inner reality.  Using the model I have discovered in this book I can begin to let myself know the shared truth about my parents:  Both of them were spiritually dead (spiritually sound asleep – spiritually bankrupt).   They both lived in a world defined by the absence of goodness and by the absence of any effort toward improvement leading to progress in the direction of goodness.  That kind of world, on the level of our human species, breeds evil.

And that is exactly what happened in my family of origin.

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If I could target this post the way I wish I could I would send it to people who are parenting foster children or adopted children who have a prior history of being abused.  What I say here also applies to many teen and adult survivors of severe child abuse — but it is the young survivors who have found their way into loving, caring and nurturing homes AWAY from abuse — and are therefore on their healing journey — that I am thinking about this morning.

I can’t entirely stop my pondering process right now even though I am taking a break until this coming Friday morning from my book writing.  In some important ways I am finding myself in the midst of a review related to an earlier post and its comments:  +SEVERE CHILD ABUSE AND THE PRESERVED GOOD AND NOBLE SELF

I am also cycling backward and into the present moment about my piano lessons and the multiple levels of effort I am having to put into this new learning.  I continue to struggle with the effects of severe verbal abuse I received from birth (and through the following 18 years) from my Borderline mother.

This is cementing into my thinking what a miracle it is that severely abused children can learn anything at all!  What a miracle it is they can manage to learn anything in school!  What a miracle it is for many of us of all ages as severe child abuse survivors that we find ways to continue to learn throughout the course of our lifetime!

The regions of the human brain that learn semantic, external, objective facts about the world can — and often do — operate without emotion or without any special ‘autobiographical’ involvement of the ‘self’ of a person-child.  By the time I was 9 and in 4th grade, as I discovered in my book writing this week, my ability to learn facts — cold, hard factual information about the world OUTSIDE of me began to escalate and burgeon as an ability that had nothing to do with the development of my ‘self’.

I was and am fortunate that way.  But now as I struggle to learn to read and play music I find my learning is PAINFUL.  Both of my brain hemispheres and the operation of the regions between them that pass information back and forth are being challenged in new ways.  By itself, I would say this is a good thing.  But it is PAINFUL, painful because I as a SELF am in the middle of this process right along with all the pounded-into-me pain, much of it from Mother’s verbal abuse, that has created deep and lasting wounds that are being powerfully touched in this new learning process.

I would say to ALL who are helping to heal and parent abused children that providing the healing opportunity of learning to play PIANO is one of the best things that can be done to help these children!

I would also say that this new learning is MUSIC THERAPY and that all involved must realize this fact.  All must watch the child carefully and be prepared, waiting and ready to help the child on the levels of healing that learning to play piano will create.

In so many ways the younger the child the more flexible and malleable — if not resilient — they are.  But these same factors are also the same ones that have been so trampled on, so crushed, and so wounded that at the same time the piano-playing learning is going on the wounds will be touched and the pain will be triggered.

What I am finding is that as I learn, as I practice piano the SELF that I am is in the MIDDLE between what I want to learn and the ME that wants to learn it.  That SELF — in ways I never have identified until now — is so full of outright terror about making mistakes, about being a slow learner, about being impossibly and irredeemably stupid, about not trying hard enough, about making mistakes ‘deliberately’ and intentionally, about being bad and hopeless and wrong and evil — and on and on and on — that it is nearly beyond belief!

I have recognized and written on this blog before about the extreme damage that verbal abuse causes to an infant-child’s developing language abilities.  I know that this damage, if it begins in infancy, becomes built into changed brain development in the musical regions of the brain because LANGUAGE uses these musical regions.

Learning to play this piano is waking up some of my deepest pain and my worst wounds that were inflicted by my mother from the time of my birth — during my earliest stages of development when I had no possible way of knowing what the words were she screamed at me.  I knew the emotions.  I had emotional reactions of my own.

And from those earliest SOUND related abuses come the great pain I now feel learning how to let my SELF free toward experiencing my own JOY — in learning to let music move THROUGH my body, through my self — as it comes to life.

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The comments at the end of the post I placed at the start of this writing contain reference to other realizations I am having that relate not only to my healing, to adult survivor healing, but to healing for young children who have been removed from abusive environments.

Our body is a WHOLE body that includes all of our senses.  As we grow from birth in environments of unsafe and insecure attachment with violent and hurtful caregivers the development of ALL of our senses is impacted — along with the connections in our body-brain that process this information.

In those comments I mention here, and in that information that will have to be moved into the text of the book, I realize that Mother’s abuse interrupted the development of my own sense of humor.  The abuses she perpetrated having to do with sleep affect me today.  Learning I was doing as a small child about what flavors of food I enjoyed, which ones I didn’t, and how my tastes in food changed as I grew into my older childhood were impacted.

I guess what I am feeling for abused children removed from their environments of abuse is that the adults, teachers included, in their new life need to realize that an abused child needs to heal not only on multiple levels — but on ALL levels.

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As I continue to work through the terrible pain of child abuse that is being awakened in my piano playing-learning I am working to heal damage done to me that I have never until now fully recognized — both in my body-brain and in my SELF.  Please, if you are helping to heal an abused child GET THEM INVOLVED in piano lessons.  At the same time realize that this needs to be done with the most perfect love, encouragement, understanding, acceptance, compassion, healing and hope for healing.

The potential for healing the effects of child abuse through learning piano is, I am coming to realize, probably unparalleled in any other kind of learning a human being can do — especially a child.

THE AMERICAN MUSIC THERAPY ASSOCIATION

NOTE:  I also believe that this learning WILL TRIGGER Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and dissociation.  Caution is needed.  This triggering is NOT a bad thing, but be aware, beware, be wary — be VERY CARE-FUL.  This learning creates and provides for deep and profound levels of healing.  It has to be done in the RIGHT way.  Consult a music therapist if at ALL possible.

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I ran away from home today, which is what I call it when I hop in my old ’78 el Camino and wander into Bisbee, wasting gas just to see some friendly faces, grab a cup of java, see a change of scenery, decompress and make decisions.  So.  I decided that to plow ahead on the book writing right now would be the emotional equivalent of going over Niagara Falls in a paper cup — so it’s break time.

Because I am spending A LOT of time writing in response to my daughter’s book question #6, which now has four parts and is moving into a fifth, I only get to take my 96-hour down times when I know I need them now rather than being able to pause in between questions.  I don’t know what’s going to happen to the other 13 questions my daughter has lined up for me, but #6 seems to fit the bulk of my tell-the-story-like-it-was format.  When I reach a tough stumble and fall down time I know it — and it’s time for one of those breaks.

Dissociation exists for a health-promoting reason.  Trying to push too hard to make this story I am telling coherent at this point is not healthy for me.  There’s too much there!

What I do know is that I did something when I was 10 — right at the point I will write about after my break — that I never had done before and never did afterward:  I stood up to my abusive mother the best that I could.  With what seems to have been my first truly conscious self-aware thinking I decided ‘on the spot’ that if I stood up to her things couldn’t get any worse than they had always been.

I was wrong.  Nearly dead wrong.

This ‘abuse incident’ also led to me running away for home for the first and only time in my 18 year childhood.

To do myself justice, to do this story justice, I have to build into myself what I need in the next four days to hopefully be ready to get back to my task and to do it well.

Meanwhile, I turn 60 on Wednesday — and that earns me a break all by itself!

NOTE – this post is related to this morning’s post:  +WHOSE STORY IS THIS ANYWAY?

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I mean, who really does want to wake up at 3:00 a.m. on the 3rd day before their 60th birthday caught in a spider web of forgetting and remembering while writing the story of their severely abusive childhood?  Which is the web and which are the spaces between those thinnest strands of so-strong nearly invisible thread that make up my own life of childhood?  How does forgetting form this web even far more than remembering?

What have I forgotten?  Why have I forgotten it?  Everyone forgets most or nearly all of their childhood, don’t they?  Then doesn’t that just level the playing ground, then, so that my childhood remains just as mediocre as anyone else’s?

So why am I trying to write a book about my abusive childhood, anyway?  Isn’t this job worse than hopeless — being stupid?

What do I remember?  What CAN I remember?  What could I remember that I don’t remember if WANTED to badly enough?  Do I WANT to remember?

And WHY would I want to remember?  Why does it grow so to bother me that there are months and months of my childhood at the age I am writing about now — having turned 10 — where I can’t-don’t-won’t remember anything at all?  Could I remember if I tried harder — hard enough — or EVER no matter what I ‘tried’ to remember?

I seem to be all tangled up in this web of forgetting and remembering and of not wanting to do either one.  “Who is doing this remembering?  Who did/is doing this forgetting?”  Is it better to let the sleeping dogs that guard the gates of hell alone, just let them lie?

Or is that exactly the problem?  They’ve been lying long enough?

If I can’t remember — “It didn’t happen.”

If I don’t remember, can’t remember — “It didn’t matter.  It wasn’t that bad.  I made it all up.”

Am I chasing my memories or are they chasing me?

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I have spent the last four or five days of my book writing following the nutty track of where I lived during months and now years of my childhood as recorded in my abusive Borderline Mother’s letters.  If her letters had not found their way into my hands, if I had not spent many hundreds of hours sorting and ordering and transcribing them I would NEVER have been able to even begin to think about my experience growing up with her in anything like a coherent, linear order.

I woke at 3:00 a.m. this morning knowing that even with that track to follow, that bread crumb trail of history covering these years of my childhood, I have managed to do exactly what she would have wanted me to do (not that she would have EVER wanted me to have these letters in the first place).  I have let myself become mesmerized by her words until I hit a brick wall last evening when I quit my task for the night.  I am believing her lie.

In my later efforts I have been amalgamating her words.  I have been taking parts of one letter and combining it with parts of the next letter to cut down on repetitions in my attempts to find the ‘picture’ of how her continually shifting thinking — as presented in these letters she wrote to her mother — dragged her family hither and yon through one move after another in so crazy a pattern that NOBODY could have remembered it all if it wasn’t written down — finally — in the fashion that it is.

The moves themselves, as tied to her Borderline Personality Disorder as they were, being the nightmare that they were, I see now created such a fabric of uncertainty, unpredictability, and continual trauma of change that the abuse I suffered as her singled-out target for abuse simply fades into the background.

If I let it…….

During this past year I have been covering, from the end of my 4th grade year of school when the 5th of the Lloyd children was born all the way through my 5th grade year, what ACTUALLY happened was that we lived not in ONE place at any ONE time during this year — but in TWO places at ONE time.  Like a string being continually folded back on itself so that the beginning, middle and end of it are lost in some big resulting tangled mess, this year of my life was probably one continuous thing and one thing only:  HELL.

Not only did we spend the better part of my age 9-10 year living in two places at one time, but one of the places we lived in — the canvas Jamesway Quonset hut on our Alaskan mountain homestead was itself undergoing continual change at the same time.  But these changes are not accurately or specifically recorded in Mother’s letters.  They are only alluded to.  When were the additional 4-foot wide additional ribbed sections added onto that hut, making it grow longer on both ends like some monstrous dark caterpillar within which we walked around, slept — and me, the abused one?

When did my father cut into the sides of this hut, lift up parts of its wall, cover them with wood and add in the windows?  When did he lay the flooring on top of the rough Army green plywood sections of floor boxes?  When did he put in a wall partition that separated the front end from the back bedroom end?

This is what the hut looked like when we first began our journeys living in — and out — of it on this isolated Alaskan mountain:

May 19, 1959 - three months prior to my 8th birthday - hut eventually grew on both ends, extended from 5 4' wide sections to 13. I have yet to find a picture taken from high above it that shows it that long, nor can I find in Mother's letters the timetable of its growth

THIS ‘house’, this Army surplus portable housing tent, was a tunnel with two very small plastic windows on either end, each made of two sheets of worn plastic with wire mesh in the panes.  They were dimmed with years of encrusted dirt sandwiched between them that could not be removed.  Neither could we see out of them and they let in very little light.  And by my 5th grade year we were a family of seven living on again-off again on this mountain.

Alaska, known for its frequent heavy clouded days, was even darker for us as this level on the mountain was in the ‘cloud path’ so that we were often captured within thick fog.

This was the other house, the log house where Mother had her Happy Time nursery school, a boarder, and her family of 7 often living, sandwiched somewhere in between throughout my 5th grade year

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Up and down the mountain we traveled with my father on school mornings as we had ‘left’ the rented rambler log house for the last months of my 5th grade year.  Back and forth down the Eagle River valley on the Jeep road.  Hours and hours we spent commuting.  I was following all of this in Mother’s letters, doing my combining of her words, following, following — and then suddenly BAM!

In a letter dated Monday, May 14, 1962 there is a description of events that I entirely missed until I had traveled a few letters forward in time — and then, last night at ‘closing time’ as I folded up my computer files and ‘called it a day’, I realized I had moved right on past Mother’s description of the beginning stages of what was one of the worst of her abuse ‘episodes’ of my childhood.

I sit on that cusp.  I am on that threshold in my book writing now.  I have to go back, back, not very far back as it turns out — because I WOKE UP out of my mesmerized following-Mother’s-account-of-the-years-of-my-childhood stupor in full recognition:  “What time is it?”  It’s the time Mother attacked me with a two-by-four board, the time I barely escaped with my life.

“Oh, THAT time!”

Did Mother breath a single word in her May 14th letter, or in the letters that followed it about what was REALLY going on as she spewed out her trivial spatterings about ‘our life’ as she wanted her mother to know about them?

Not a word.  Not a clue.  Not a sign.

THIS IS MY JOB!   The truth-telling is MY JOB!

I’ve written before about ‘the shampoo incident’ and about my running away.  Am I going to rewrite my version of what happened all over again?  Dare I enter that memory — which I know I can do — and relive that special horror all over again?

Can I?  Will I?  Dare I?

Mother chased me through the Jamesway, finally catching up to knock me off balance.  As I fell I remember rolling wildly around on the double bed in the little bedroom in the little old trailer attached to the Jamesway trying desperately to avoid the full force of Mother’s two-by-four poundings as she hysterically raged.  On this day she would have killed me.  I got away from her.  I dodged under the worst of her blows, snaked my way out from under her crashing arm.  I bashed my way past her out the back door of the trailer and took off running through the field grasses toward the woods with banshee screaming, club-wielding Mother in mad pursuit.  Father stood at the edge of the field cutting firewood — watching.  I was 10 years old.

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I ALMOST missed this!  I have now found the EXACT day this ‘incident’ began — because I recognize it in Mother’s invisible version, her left-out version.  I know the other version of what happened — the real version — that Mother DID NOT tell my grandmother.  It started on Mother’s Day, May 13, 1962, but it did not end for a long, long time.

I might not be able to write about it today.  I might wait a few days until after my 60th birthday on Wednesday to write it.  I first need to have some serious conversations with myself about why I am working on this book at all……….

For now I have a fence built against remembering.  I know it’s my fence, and I know I’ll sit on it as long as I want to — or need to.

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I woke this morning thinking about a dream I had last night, or rather, thinking about the remnants of a dream.  These pieces, like leftover scraps of fabric from a dress all sewn together, left me thinking also about how strange it is that I found among my mother’s surviving papers a copy of one of her dreams that I wrote about on this blog several times before:

MY MOTHER’S DREAM – March 29, 1960
The whole family was out walking and suddenly we looked up to see a dark rainbow appear – then it got bright and behind it a skyline appeared outlining massive dormed buildings such as I’ve never seen and skyscraper bldgs – then it all disappeared and a big wind came.

We realized it was a hurricane. We could hardly stand up against the wind. We saw big apt bldgs on the sides of the streets but the entrances faced another street and we were on the wrong side. The wind grew stronger – finally a door appeared and we went in the bldg and the person asked us what was wrong? We told her of the great wind but as we pointed outside – all was silent and the wind was gone … and I awoke.

Putting together what I read in Mother’s dream (I was 8 when she recorded this) and what I remember of the scraps of mine last night, I can’t help but think that way down in those dusky depths beyond consciousness Mother really knew that something was terribly wrong not only for her but also for her entire family.  But my dream was not about a raging storm.  My dream was about healing.

Alaska has that kind of soil that turns into charcoal gray mucky mud when it gets wet.  Along the lower Jeep roads back in Eagle River valley when enough people drove over some of the sections of that mud enough times it packed down smoothly and though it remained damp and moist it didn’t create deep ruts.  It was on a section of a neighbor’s road like this that I used to ride my sister’s friend’s bicycle around the time Mother recorded her dream.

Last night in my dream I found myself living on soil like I found on this section of Jeep road.  Standing in the center I found that if I put enough effort into jumping and stomping in one place I could pack it down and it would harden into a firm platform that meant I was no longer in danger of sinking past my knees in soppy, sticky, icky muck.

Not being content to only have that one small circle in the center I soon realized if I kept one foot planted firmly in the center and then turned my body from that pivot point in circles I could stomp stomp stomp with my other foot and widen the center circle of stable firmness.

So, around in circles I went, first in one direction, then in the other.  I succeeded in widening my circle of firmness enough that I could then scoot my firmly planted foot farther and farther out from the center of the circle.  My platform center of firm stability reached further and further out until I could then walk in a stomping ever-widening circle.  My life of healing was growing!

So entranced — and very busy working my way toward healing was I that it took some time before I looked up to see there were other people all around me doing exactly the same thing!  As their circles of firm, healed stability widened around those other people these circles eventually touched one another — and even began to overlap.

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My mother lacked the ability to work toward healing in her lifetime.  But something I received during mine has created such a desire to heal and to assist others to heal in any small way that I can that I have not lived anything like the same life that my mother did.  I am eternally grateful for the gifts I have been given that also include being born in an era that includes a Major Movement of the healing work others are doing in their own circles — and sharing with me.

I believe that not only can individual people stomp their way out in ever-increasing circles of increased well-being, but families can do this, too.  Neighborhoods can do it.  Communities can do it.  Nations can do it, and eventually this planet we live on will be covered the world over with little circles of healing that have grown together to include everyone in genuine creative effective — and amazing healing!

It might seem on any given day that what goodness we try to bring into our personal life, the life of our family, our neighborhood — and on up is trivial and lacks impact or importance.  That’s certainly not what my dream last night was about!  When everyone that has the capacity to heal begins that muck stomping journey we will all be incredulously amazed at the progress we can make.  YAY US!!!

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If I am going to spend some time pondering about some of what I was book-writing about yesterday, I might as well do some of that pondering here.  First of all, I believe (because I cannot make this belief go away, or change it in any way, it is obvious to me that I believe it!) that all humans are born good and noble.  That means all children are good and noble.

Being innately good and noble means to me that humans are born knowing right from wrong.  What must happen as we grow older and grow up is that we come to develop our ‘self’ that possesses the ability to make choices — some of the good, some of them not good.

We are born to parents and other caregivers who are not perfect.  While we might be perfect when we are born it seems nature designs us to soon lose track of this perfection simply because we ARE humans — and being human means that in this world we have choice.  Or, are supposed to have choice though I believe changes in physiological development especially due to early severe trauma can create ‘mental illnesses’ that interfere with the human ability to self-choose (the body does most of the choosing instead in its attempts to survive).

“So,” I’ve been asking myself this morning as I wander my garden after last evenings terrific rains, “what is it about the circumstances surrounding the tiny snippets of clear memory I have always retained from shortly after my 9th birthday when I was in 4th grade that emblazoned those memories in my conscious mind?  Why those and not others?”

As I pondered this morning I remembered for myself the ‘rule’ I invented:  There must have been something going on inside of ME that was absolutely GOOD that was immediately smacked up against something very bad in my mother!

Thinking now in this way about these incidents — as I present them simply below — I see that what I witnessed with my little sister being miraculously saved from great harm was ALL GOOD.  What was going on inside of me during the ‘TV memory’ and the ‘ice cream memory’ was equally ALL GOOD.

Perhaps I received a gift through the special circumstances of having been abused since birth — the inability, complete inability, to feel anger toward my mother.  Perhaps that gift not only allowed me to survive her horrible abuse, but also to survive it with access to my own goodness intact.

Not that feeling angry in the face of great injustice is a bad thing in itself, but in my case because I was a captive and had no possible way to escape or to fight back, any anger on my part toward my mother might well have spurred her to kill me.  So NOT feeling angry was a protection.  Why feel ANGER toward someone or something I could do NOTHING about?

Anger is itself one of the stages (I believe) of the trauma survival response cycle.  It is a step around on the circle of the stress response.  When we feel anger we are SUPPOSED to be able to poke around in our proverbial box of survival coping skills so we can find one we can apply in a new and different — and exactly effective way — to get out of a traumatic mess.

My entire body-self well knew by age 9 that I had no way out and nobody to help me get out.  So anger would have been worse than useless.

OK, so knowing that — what next can I discover in my ponderings?  Do I remember these snippets I mention here because I had no wall of inner rage to intervene between me and my true spiritual-soul essential self?  I certainly had no conscious thought of “Mother is so wrong.  I am so right!”

Nope.  Couldn’t have had those thoughts.

But perhaps it was my good and noble self that felt the verbal blows in these memories — I do not remember anything physical being done to me regarding these ‘events’.  Mother’s attacks — did I feel a new sense of humiliation at age 9 that I had never felt before?  After all, I had been abused — and viciously verbally abused — since birth.  What would be different about these words on these occasions?

Maybe I was naturally gathering some mental powers just by the fact that I had managed to stay alive this long — 9 whole years.  Just because these powers had certainly not reached the level of my conscious awareness so that I could self-reflect did not mean these mental powers weren’t there.

Did I remember these things and stuff them in some memory-retaining bottle and toss them into the sea of time so that I could find them yet again, this time in my writing now 50 years later and decipher my own inner meaning in them?

Very possibly……

At this stage of my pondering I haven’t ‘gotten IT yet’.  I haven’t felt an inner sense of “Oh, THAT’S why I remembered them!”  I don’t have the piece of information I suspect is connected to these memories — yet.

What I can say is these memories stand as milestones along the pathway of my child development that let me know clearly that by age 9 my mother had STILL been completely unable to penetrate through the protection I had around my inner, own good and noble self.  I had not really BOUGHT any of the toxic poison she had been dumping on me since I was born.

Certainly Mother hurt me.  But not the INNER me?  I’ll say, “She had not changed me, my essential me.  I was still completely grounded in standing within my own self — knowing the difference between good and bad, right and wrong — though I could not in ANY way articulate that I knew this.”

Part of what is so affirming to me in my struggle now to tell my own coherent life story over the passage of time is that who I know myself to be NOW as a good and noble person is exactly who I innately and instinctively knew I was all the way through my abusive childhood.

I am so grateful!

In essence this means that when we consider ANY situation of child abuse it is critically important to recognize the good that is ALWAYS also present.  For sure, one fundamental FACT is that this goodness will ALWAYS be found in the heart of the child (the survivor)!!

I am reminded of my long ago (1980) 7-week in-patient ‘treatment’ for addiction.  When it came to the step’s words “restore me to sanity” I truthfully told my therapist that would not be possible.  Even though then, I was 30, I had no concept that I was a child abuse survivor, I at least had the first glimmer of light go on about this abuse:  I knew there had never been any sanity in my life to go back to.  I knew that to ‘restore’ something that never existed was impossible.

My therapist very UNHELPFULLY told me I was using the defense ‘mechanism of intellectualizing and rationalizing’.  Now thinking about THIS I feel anger.  But that was all my therapist knew – that was her ignorance and limitations.

Today, for the very first time in my thinking I can clearly see that, yes, I CAN now think in terms of ‘recovery’ — because I now know clearly and exactly what I am ‘going back’ to recover:  My own perfectly pure, noble and good self that was preserved within me as a child — no matter what abuse was done to me.

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I have always had a collection of short memories from this school year.  Our dinner table was placed under a ceiling light that had a large glass globe over the bulb.  I was sitting next to my little sister, Sharon.  One night at the start of dinner the globe came crashing down nearly on my little sister’s head.  Barely missing her and pounded down on the edge of her dinner plate in such a way that the plate tipped away from her and acted like a shield that protected her as it projected the glass pieces so that they fell harmlessly to the floor past her body.  (Someone in the apartment before us had not screwed it back on correctly when a bulb was changed.)

Her words gashed and slashed me – on these occasions that I remember – worse than anything she could have done to hurt my body.  Why do I remember these so clearly?  What was so different or ‘special’ about them that they have always stood out in my mind?

We were all watching Beverly Hillbillies on TV.  I made the mistake of enjoying myself in thinking something on the show was funny.  I laughed.  Big mistake!  Mother immediately seared me with, “You stupid, stupid girl, Linda!  Nobody but you could be so stupid as to think this stupid show is actually funny?  Don’t you know they use canned laughter in this show.  It’s not even real.  Nobody but you would think that was actually funny, let alone laugh at it!  Go to your room!  I can’t stand the sight of you!  I don’t want you anywhere near me.”  Etc., etc…..

One night Mother was sitting in the living room when she asked, “Linda, go check in the freezer and see how much ice cream we have.”  So I did, and reported back to her, “There is a whole half gallon of ice cream.”

She sliced me with, “What?  A whole half gallon?  You stupid girl!  If there is a full half gallon then there is just that – a HALF GALLON of ice cream left!  Don’t you know anything?”  Etc., etc……  I did not mean to be stupid or ‘make her’ mad at me on occasions such as these, but I had no defense inside of myself to NOT let Mother hurt me.  These are just tiny examples of how her hatred of me flew at me out of nowhere – at any time, on any occasion – that I could not anticipate, expect or guard against.

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My only complaint with the WordPress blog theme format I have chosen is that it makes a very poor attempt at making comments made to any of the nearly 1000 posts on Stop the Storm very difficult to find unless a reader happens to catch them as links to incoming comments/replies listed along the right side of the Home page as they come in.  If there are multiple comments/replies coming in on one day the links to them vanish off the bottom of the list very quickly.  The only way readers can access them is if they happen to pursue a particular Google search of terms that lands them on the posts where the comments are listed.

This blog was never designed JUST for discussion about abusive Borderline Personality Disorder parents.  Because my mother DID fit this category the weight of much of the information on Stop the Storm is accumulating about exactly this topic.  But this blog is about stopping the transmission of intergenerational (intragenerational) trauma — no matter what the trauma stems from specifically and no matter how it has been transmitted.  BPD is only one of the possible ‘side effects’ of trauma.

In some important ways I believe Cinderella’s comments provide an important bridge between nonBorderline child abuse and Borderline child abuse.  The writings I am highlighting here shed some light on how these two ‘streams of trauma’ can appear within a trauma-related discussion.

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Therefore on occasion I have to copy important comments/replies into a new post to make them perhaps a little more accessible to readers as time marches forward — and the new links disappear off the side of the blog!

Today I want to highlight new comment/reply on this post:

+THE ORDERED GRID INSIDE AN ABUSIVE BORDERLINE’S WORLD

Comment by Cinderella:

Linda,
Have you studied the “structures” that mind control victims have installed to control them? They are very similar to what you are describing and are an integral part of the dissociation process……

This is sort of a jumping off point if you haven’t studied this before.
http://lynnsart.net/library/government-documents/

Not saying your mother was a victim of MKULTRA, but the mechanisms are similar in my opinion.

My reply:

Well, I bet this all leads in a dark direction!

Thanks, and I forwarded this to my daughter. I cannot examine external thought while I work on this stage of the book writing.

I began my deep investigative research into what was ‘wrong’ with me about 8 years ago now, and started with my long-standing history of reading memoirs of people who had been POWs and/or captives during the communist takeover of China.

When I went back to those readings and followed the thread of my own thoughts I found that Mother used every single mind control tool the ‘professionals’ did.

I came to the conclusion that the ‘playing board’ of the human mind has parameters and patterns of functioning that are common to us all. There would be, therefore, only so many effective ways to manipulate those patterns of functioning.

That my mother instinctively knew all those ways and used them on me didn’t/doesn’t surprise me.

I have to go backwards in my book-writing (I realized yesterday) and put into the text something along these lines because in my linear examination of my childhood I now know where ‘this’ belongs and where ‘this’ started (as far as I know!).

Shortly after an abuse ‘incident’ was added to Mother’s litany when I was 7 that was another ‘proof’ that I didn’t want to grow up and that I wanted to remain a ‘baby’ — Mother began this completely bizarre and extremely effective mind-control technique.

Especially during the months of time our family was dragging ourselves on foot up (and then down in the morning) the horrible mountain road to our homestead, thus contributing to my great exhaustion after a long day at school in between, there were times when my sleep was profoundly deep. If Mother came to ‘examine’ me while I was sleeping (she examined me with her Evil Eye every opportunity she could for 18 years), and found me sleeping on my back with both of my arms raised up beside my head, she would grab my hair and drag me off my bed from this sound sleep as she beat me for ‘sleeping like a baby – (you want to be a baby, etc. which was actually a refrain invented for Mother’s abuse litany when I was 20 months old). She would be fully launched into her pattern of abuse litany recital that brought her verbal abuse rhythm into the pounding of her blows.

As I say, there is something profoundly ‘different’ about the mind of a severe Borderline abusive parent! I won’t read anything anyone has written about anything until my own life story narrative is coherent and complete!

That also includes, by the way, the new book I reserved before print and bought that is still in its box:

The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) [Hardcover]
by Stephen W. Porges

http://www.amazon.com/Polyvagal-Theory-Neurophysiological-Communication-Self-regulation/dp/0393707008/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314114259&sr=1-1

I will get to it when I can — but not now — yet I thank you greatly for the link!!

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I also want to highlight something from today on this post:  +#1 SYMPTOM OF BPD = CANNOT PARENT CORRECTLY

Cinderella’s comment that begins “I don’t know that my mother was BPD. She was never diagnosed, never saw a therapist. I don’t know what she was like with my siblings….not really...” can be found there along with my reply:

Bad enough that I can’t tell the stories to people because they blanch and tune out. They can’t take it and telling them traumatizes them which is unfair.

To varying degrees I believe this is a common link for everyone who has an insecure attachment disorder due to inadequate bonding in safe and secure earliest caregiving relationships. The primary contributing causes to child abuse stem from those earliest interactions before the age of two that determine the physiological direction our body-brain takes in the beginning (hence building insecure attachment to others, self and world right into our nervous system/vagus nerve system — or not). (Google search: stop the storm vagus nerve)

One of the keys to unlocking the door of adult healing is to admit to ourselves there are things that happened to us in our early life that we either cannot remember because we – well, CANNOT remember by fact or by choice. Either physiologically the memories are outside the range of conscious retrieval or we simply cannot EMOTIONALLY afford to remember — just as so many people cannot afford to hear the stories we are able to tell.

I encounter this fine line continually as I work on my book writing about my childhood. How often I allude to trauma and abuse and then turn away immediately without crossing this line. My own line I tell myself is, “Who in their right mind would want to hear this?”

I will probably leave some readers angry at my refusal to recount graphic descriptions of abuse. Those accounts are not what I am after. I am searching for my own self as I followed my own life path anyway, in direct opposition to what Mother would have wanted. But though she profoundly impacted how I felt and what I knew as her abused child, she could not touch ME — my essential self.

Cinderella, my guess is that if your mother had been Borderline you would have known it. How she endured what she did and DID NOT end up with this illness might be a mystery — but to me it’s always a matter of being so limited, in the end, no matter how much we try to understand another person or even our own self — of not having enough of the most important information.

This has to do, most simply, with beginning to understand clearly NOT ONLY the risk factors that early trauma creates but also the RESILIENCY factors that allow life to continue on in the face of overwhelming odds.

Perhaps what can be seen with Borderline is this: When all other possible resources are used for an infant-child to cope with and survive early severe trauma are used up, then the last line of defense is that physiological development will reach for the genetic tools in a survivor’s DNA and use them — sacrificing conscious awareness and creating such an alternative brain functioning that a twisted mind that lives in an alternative reality is the end result.

Borderline Personality Disorder creates an additional level of horror for children being raised by one because of this special kind of twistedness that happens on the level of the MIND itself. Many patterns of abuse and torment done against infant-children can be the same between Borderline and non-Borderline parents, but I believe it is the bizarre and twisted MENTAL level of the abuse — as it is happening in a universe of absolute and true insane MADNESS — that can complicate the healing work for Borderline parent abuse survivors.

This just means that, as you say, the perspective needed to heal just needs to include the right information for the right ‘crimes’.

I am happy to read your words and know that there are others that comprehend the value of looking at the much bigger picture of child abuse and trauma. Doing so in no way ‘excuses’ or ‘justifies’ any abuse of any kind perpetrated against children. But humans are members of a social species and none of us live in a social vacuum. Neither do we miraculously appear on this earth to raise ourselves Scott-free of any parental influence — be it wise or wounded.

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And my second reply today to Cinderella:

I would also like to thank you for the concept you introduced that I am already finding myself using in my thinking: “parental unit.”

Readers of my material, probably flowing all the way forward into the readers of the book my daughter and I are writing, question my lack of ability to begin to address my father.

I don’t foresee myself making much progress on that front. I only have so much energy for my work, and I seem to lack what it would take to apply my investigative curiosity much in his direction.

At least thinking about Mother and Father as a ‘parental unit” allows me to now think in terms of a new level of wholeness about them and about how they BOTH interacted within the social environment of my family of origin TOGETHER so that so much trauma and abuse could occur.

I also realize that exactly where I ended my book-writing work yesterday is where I jumped over and left out a very small — but probably important example of how those two interacted with one another. Today when I go back to that writing I will choose NOW to include a small reference to the small example I skipped yesterday.

My mother wrote in a letter to her mother that she took $50 out of the family budget that could NOT be afforded and bought herself a maternity wardrobe for the unplanned pregnancy of their 5th child. She wrote that her husband ‘freaked out’ (my words, will find her exact words when I go back to the letter).

I have a memory and I am not at all sure this was the exact moment in time that my memory is attached to, of my mother once buying a purple dress. My father hated purple. This man who so RARELY EVER directly expressed his own feelings including anger, took the dress away from her and threw it in the trash.

In light of the insanity and abuse in my childhood this seems like such a tiny event — and it was. But in light of your words ‘parental unit’ it enlightens me. Yet it also interests me that I am so unwilling to invest any more thought than a simple mention into what this kind of a pattern of interaction might have indicated. That was THEIR stuff and I so far can’t make myself care.

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This entire blog is being hosted by a singled-out severe abuse survivor of a severe Borderline Personality Disorder mother.  As that survivor, who lived from the first breath I took until the day 18 years long years later that I was expunged (escaped) my home of origin, Mother targeted her abuse on me of the six children she gave birth to.

I am working on writing my childhood story.  Most  abused children of Borderlines mothers are being given an Insecure Attachment Disorder at the same time they are being abused.  The only way this is prevented is if there is one other primary caregiver that can and does provide safe and secure attachment relationship opportunities during PRIMARILY the first two years of life.  I BARELY had these ‘other’ attachment experiences.  The primary one was with my brother who was 13 1/2 months old when I was born.

Every person — and that’s easily about half of our population — who did not experience safe and secure attachment with their earliest caregivers during their most critical early body-brain developmental stages before the age of two does have some version of an Insecure Attachment Disorder.  (There is a wealth of information on the net and on this blog about ‘attachment’.  Google search “stop the storm” attachment” and “stop the storm trauma altered development” for some background on this topic.)

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In reply to the fantastic comments that are coming in on the topic of child abusing Borderline parents I want to share here the bottom line discovery I was forced to make in order to begin to work my way through my own 18 years of child abuse as the singled-out target of my severe Borderline mother.

As said many times on this blog, the number one symptom of all Insecure Attachment Disorders is the inability of a survivor to tell a coherent narrative of their life story.

While I have written snippets and vignettes of abuse incidents that happened to me, I am actually tackling the impossible by working now to force a linear-based coherency upon my insanely abusive dissociated infant-childhood.

I immediately realized as I began my book-writing that I needed to find the structure under my Borderline mother’s treatment of me — and underneath the entire series of repeating patterns of ‘mad’ behavior that formed her tragic, tragic life (and death in 2002).

I found this structure.  I have been ‘blessed’ with material to work with that is among the worst of the worst — to be ‘bettered’ only by a story in which the Borderline mother butchered her children.  Because those dead offspring can tell no tale at all, what I know is probably the next best thing.

Because I inherited — quite accidentally on my mother’s part but I believe with full intent by ‘destiny’ — all of my mother’s surviving papers and photographs, my book will include my abusive Borderline mother’s words along with my own.  What I am doing is separating myself and my story from my mother — who had only one Borderline when it came to me.

Because I have ordered and carefully transcribed Mother’s own words I have the rare opportunity of being able to track the patterns of her madness not only in what I can remember about what happened to me, but I also have the patterns of Mother’s mind as recorded in her own words going back nearly 70 years with her childhood stories.

Those patterns, when examined with meticulous and compassionate care have revealed to me a very well defined grid upon which her madness was constructed.  I have created my own GPS that allows me to locate myself in space and time on that grid — so I can, in effect, ‘take a look around’.

Yes, her Borderline world was strange, bizarre and foreign, but it was not without order and organization.  What her illness did as it entirely changed the way her body-brain developed during her early critical growth stages in her own environment of malevolent maltreatment, was to find an extremely creative and affective antidote to the most severe form of Insecure Attachment Disorder there is:  Disorganized-Disoriented Insecure Attachment Disorder.

Her trauma altered developmental pathway included the activation (I believe) of a very specific combination of genetic potential for survival that I do not believe would have been activated had she not suffered extreme traumatic stress in her early development birth to two, and then through the age of five.  (Her disorder is fully operational in her age 9 and 10 childhood stories.)

Neuroscientists now have the technological ability to watch a Borderline brain in operation — in fact, I fully believe the disorder can be accurately and immediately diagnosed from these scans.

Any attempt those of us want to make from the outside must understand that we are not able to ‘understand’ a Borderline — especially an abusive one — using any knowledge that does not take into account that their brains and their nervous system DOES NOT OPERATE in an ordinary or normal way.

Not to consider this fact actually makes the rest of us nuts.

To a Borderline such as my mother was, her universe was perfectly ordered and structured.  I now have a solid, though rudimentary understanding, of what her grid looked like and how her universe operated.  If I had not been able to learn this piece of information there is no chance in the known universe that I could begin to orient and organize my OWN SELF as the recipient of continual and severe, chronic abuse I received from Borderline Mother.

I am not sure I want to write much – yet – about what this grid was like and why it was formed the way that it was.  I will say that the visual image of what operated on this grid occurs as pyramid structures that are actually matrices that govern the way Mother’s Borderline realities operated.

Each of the pyramid matrix ‘forms’ have four base points.  The fifth point entailed a verbal litany — verbal abuse — that fed the energy through the matrix systems.

The pyramid matrix that an abusing-one-child Borderline uses, I believe, can be tracked of course to earliest trauma in the Borderline’s childhood.  These matrix pyramidal patterns upon the pattern of the Borderline grid make perfect sense once we on the outside let go of how WE think and begin to understand we are looking at a universe that is of a completely different kind.

A Borderline universe of realities does make perfect sense inside of them.  Their inner structure has its own strictly adhered to rules that govern it.  We can discover what these rules are and then use a GPS with an orientation that allows we survivors of their severe abuse to keep track of our own self in the present as we travel back in time to find the story that ran through our own self in an abusive Borderline’s world.

In my book writing I am now days away from my 9th birthday……

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In response to this post:

+FANTASTIC COMMENTS COMING IN ON ABUSING BORDERLINE PARENTS

which contains the link to comments at the end of this post:

+#1 SYMPTOM OF BPD = CANNOT PARENT CORRECTLY

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Please take a look at the incoming fantastic comments at the end of this post about abusing Borderline parents (look down there at the end of the tag/category listing in green at the end of the post if you don’t see the comments when you first find this page):

+#1 SYMPTOM OF BPD = CANNOT PARENT CORRECTLY

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Dear Friends,

I don’t want to be the person who has this story to tell.  I don’t want to be the person trying this hard to tell it, either.  I don’t want this story.  Period.

I don’t want this sleepless night.  I don’t want these tears.  I don’t want this pain inside that I know will never go away as long as I live.  The best I do on the good days I try so hard to have, one after the other, is to try as hard as I can not to remember, not to remember who I really am.

On the good days I write about courage.  I write about bravery, about being a hero, about enduring, about surviving.  I write about all sorts of things that do not tell my story.  This decision that I made, this commitment I have made in my own heart, this that I pray for every day of my life — “Please God, help me help someone else.”  This prayer, knowing there are millions upon millions of people suffering on this planet.  This prayer, knowing there are human beings all over this globe that suffer.  This prayer, knowing there are, worst of all, parents who have brought children into this world only to reject, abuse and hurt them.

I have hoped somehow that if I can be one of the people who can tell my story of 18 years of suffering child abuse in one coherent line that I can prove against all odds that this impossible task can be done.  I am one that knows that my mother’s story of trauma, neglect and abuse in her own childhood was too much of a story for her.  It broke her.  It broke her in so many pieces that nobody could ever count them all, let alone help her put them all back together again.  Her story was too big.

The broken woman that she was hurt me very badly.  I have never been able to say that she knew what she did to me.  Do parents who do more than the occasional WRONG act of violence on any level of any kind to a child know what they are doing?  Is what they are doing forgotten even as the act is being committed?   Neuroscience can say this can be true.

But if I am going to move forward now in my book writing into what I know is a new era in my development when I passed my 9th birthday I will not be able to count on, depend on or really even use any single piece of outside information from any source anywhere to help me.  Other than God.

And I am afraid.

Tonight, not being able to sleep, all the sleepless nights filled with tears of my childhood are roaring around outside my house.  Those nights scream in the silence I have forced upon them.  I don’t want to remember that, “Yes, Linda.  There were entire nights you were forced to stand in a corner.  All night.  All night long while the rest of the family was asleep in their beds.  All night you stood there alone in the darkness, terrified to move, terrified to sit down, aching in body from blow after blow after blow – too many to be counted — upon your small thin body.”

I don’t want to know my own story.  As I continue to write for the book I am progressing in age to encounter ‘the one who remembers to forget’.

Dare I bother her, tap her on the shoulder where she stands alone in a corner in the darkness to ask for her story?  Will she tell me, as my body memory is telling me tonight, how tired I was!  How tired past endurance I was standing there all night, and yet I did endure — but tonight that fact gives me no glory.  There is no applause at the end of such a night.  No fame, glory or fortune.

There is suffering, the kind that never goes away, never gets shared and if we are lucky, never appears in any memories with words.

Where are you tonight around this globe, suffering children?  Who is hurting you?  How can I help you?  How can those of us with compassion in our cells awaken a caring in enough others that maltreatment of children will end?

I have vowed to tell my story because somehow I hope somehow it will help others who suffer.  But I am afraid.  I am afraid I will disappear again into that void I knew so well with my mother as my mother.

Yet I see today that I will not always be able to count on the light of insight to guide my way through this book writing.  There are times back then that were so wrong and so dark that I’m not sure any light on earth would have been powerful enough to illuminate what my mother held in her heart against me — so sick was she.

“I grew up.  I escaped.  Isn’t that enough?”  I ask.  “But the ‘me’ that made it through, doesn’t she have something to offer to help someone else?”

What do I have to lose by trying as hard as I can to remember myself in my own life other than sleep and kleenex?

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