+A CONVERSATION WITH A TROUBLED GRANDMOTHER

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As I often do when I need a break I headed up to our local laundromat cafe yesterday.  I took my laptop thinking I would head into the needed rewrite of the first two chapters of book #9 I just finished last week, but I only made it through one page before I was sidetracked into a conversation with a stranger that lasted five hours.  I feel renewed with hope, intention and inspiration for this long drawn out writing process I am in.  I needed that boost.

The conversation topic began with this woman, I will call her Sandra, telling me about her five-year-old grandson who is having his 2nd weekend visit with his mother.  Sandra has been raising this boy since he was 9-months-old, but was most fortunately an integral part of the boy’s life from the moment he was born.

Sandra, I found out, was the 9th of 15 children, loved heartily and well by both of her stable parents and all eight of her older siblings.  She is a securely attached individual.  Her daughter was doing fine, as well, until she reached age 14 and began smoking marijuana.  The girl’s life took a troubling course with bad, abusive relationships and the birth of this boy who the girl could not mother — and still probably cannot although she is being pressured by a different boyfriend (both girl and boyfriend unemployed) to get her son back.

Grandparents have no rights to grandchildren in Arizona.  I was fascinated to watch Sandra talk about her entire range of feelings and thoughts about the entire situation from the point of view of being a securely attached person.  Reasonable, calm, honest — and yet scared to death for the future of her grandson if her daughter decides to uproot her little son to take him into the chaos of her life.

I left the conversation with a more open mind about the kinds of damage being done to upcoming generations even by young parents coming out of completely stable homes with safe and secure attachment present.  Drugs are impacting next generations of parents in ways that 40 years ago were very unlikely to happen.

What has changed, so changed, in our culture that parents are so helpless in the face of what drug use has done and is doing to their children?

In my mother’s letters there are definite mentions of her use of pain pills, sleeping pills and diet pills (speed).  As a child of course I knew nothing about this drug use.  I have always known that alcohol use was nearly nonexistent in my home — but what was the influence of prescription drugs on Mother?

Sandra believes that drug use in young people is contributing to onset of Borderline Personality Disorder.  While Sandra mentioned she knows what that mental illness is, I “forgot” to ask her how she knows whatever it is she knows about it.  But Sandra was very clear that just as the anesthesia my mother was likely giving during her labor with me broke her mind (although I think BPD was already present in Mother before my birth, but not the psychosis until afterwards), Sandra is convinced that street drug use among young people is having the same effect and thus is contributing to the rise of BPD.

My children did not go down the illicit drug road.  I am so very grateful, but it makes me think about why so many young people ARE using street drugs, and not inconsequentially.  Sandra’s daughter has not yet shown signs of walking away from that druggie lifestyle.  Her higher brain cortex development, which continues until age 25 (Sandra’s daughter is now 23), is being damaged through drug use.  This is not a good scenario for our nation’s youth, and when and how is it going to stop?

In those hours of conversation it was affirmed for me again that this story I am telling, even though it is one of billions that can be told, is of value because it is a way for the “technical” information to come through as it is completely intertwined in the story.  Sandra confirmed that it will give people cause to think — she almost described it as horizontally — in wider areas of their lives.  What influenced what coming down the generations?  And even in cases where a family gave their children everything they needed to leave their childhood with safe and secure attachment, what THEN goes so wrong when drugs take over the development of young people?

I don’t have those answers, but not having all the answers is no reason not to do the work of telling a story, anyway.

My dear older brother is coming next Tuesday to visit me for a week.  Wonderful!  I am going to take a writing break, and glad for it!  I am hoping he will agree to at least an hour interview with me.  I am hoping to take him and my laptop to the laundro-cafe to do just that.  I know he won’t write a confirmation for the truth of this story I am telling.  I know he ordinarily doesn’t want to give his/our childhood a single thought.  It’s uncomfortable.

But this might also be the exact time that something he can say to include in these books will help other people.  I hope he agrees!  I will see.  We will see!

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One thought on “+A CONVERSATION WITH A TROUBLED GRANDMOTHER

  1. Hi Linda,
    I love those kinds of chance encounters that leave one pondering new questions…

    When I worked as a drug & alcohol counselor with a NW Native American tribe that had an incredibly high rate of addiction, I began reading up on ITT (Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma) for the first time. Quite the eye-opener!

    I share your concern about the effects of early drug use on developing brains. And I worry even more about how our whole culture completely side-steps the larger question: If our way of life is such hot stuff (you know, all the “We’re #1!” BS that’s propagated in the U.S.)…then WHY do we have SO many folks who just can’t wait to get their heads as bent as possible as quickly and often as they can?

    I think Mother Teresa nailed it when she observed, on her first visit to the U.S., that she’d never seen greater poverty in her life. She was of course speaking of the spiritual poverty she saw, the lost souls wandering the streets here, and the lost souls obsessively blindly striving and accumulating…for what?

    I’m happy to hear that your brother is visiting you so soon, and I hope he decides to support what you’re doing in any way he can. I think this is “All hands on deck” time for our culture, and I pray that more and more folks wake up to that reality.

    You sure are doing your courageous part to bring much-needed light to those dark aspects of life that we usually collude with each other in hiding…

    Much love, Sandy

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