My older brother just left after his week’s visit with me to drive the 90 miles to the Tucson airport to fly home. I miss him. I always miss him.
I am left with an inner avalanche of impressions about how trauma from abusive childhoods shared with siblings (I have five) never leaves us. And, yes, as a dear blog commenter reminded me this morning, the tragedies of these traumas can never be completely avoided when we are with family members no matter how much we love one another.
I HATE that fact and process!
But I must accept this reality. Trauma triggers among family members is a huge part of the ongoing aftermath of surviving early trauma. There is no other choice.
It is HOW we live the best we can in spite of the traumas that matters. Our tapestry of life is so complex. Yet in my family we are all determined to create the most beautiful life that we can — even though — there has been great hardship. Hardship is a part of life for everyone. Yet for survivors of severe early abusive trauma these hardships are very deep and pervasive. They give us massive amounts of creative fodder to work with! That much I know.
I have been brought face-to-face with myself in important ways that come so clear to me ONLY through my sibling relationships. I want to take all pain away! Of course the patterns in our family of me being the chosen target of our mother’s psychotic Borderline Personality Disorder abuse always meant from the time I was born that all that was “bad” in our family’s life was due to my being alive as a member of our family. The reality of these patterns is so big that nobody could ever truly face them wholly.
Especially with my brother here I faced my deepest values. I wanted my brother to be happy, to sparkle, to be well and free and impassioned with his own dreams and talents. He was most shackled by Mother’s madness as he struggled from the moment I was born (he was 13 1/2 months old) to protect me. He was forced into an adult role that not even our father dared accept. (Our father was an abysmal failure as the central supporter of his wife’s mental illness and abuse.)
I hold the image of my brother being free, well and radiant closest to my heart. On the reverse side it is most difficult for me to hold this same image of myself! That is MY job in this life. Knowing where the boundaries are between people has always been most difficult for me, in greatest part because of the powerful branch of Mother’s psychotic abusive illness that required that I be isolated and confined alone.
I could not play with my siblings, and much of the time we were not even allowed to speak together. Mildred (my brother only refers to her as “the one who shall not be named”) BELIEVED not only that I was born the devil’s child, but that I had the power to take all of her other darling, beloved “all good world” children to the devil. I was not allowed to develop a body-brain that could process any levels of human interaction other than the most surface apparent ones related to having bodies that take up space in the world.
And yet the essence of who I am was not bound by Mother’s madness. My essence, my ability to sense vast amounts of invisible information, is literally fantastic. I am not sure I could be more sensitive. But what am I supposed to do with the information I detect when it comes to other people? What do I “let in” and what do I leave alone as belonging to the people who are NOT ME?
I do the best that I can, and when a critical time comes such as today is as my brother departs, I only know to ground myself in my body in the material world. Given the basics of eating, of exercise, of taking care of myself in my world, I can move forward in time as so much that I feel — as well as what I can learn from “all this” digests itself, transforms itself, into a different more expanded me as I move forward in time.
Fodder for more beauty. I spent most of my month’s (low) income yesterday buying a set of gorgeous conga drums. I will learn to play them. The next time my brother comes to visit me I will be able to play them for him. Meanwhile, I will play them for myself.
I am afraid. I don’t deny it. More times than I could ever count I have become aware of how vast the trauma is that existed in our family home as we grew up. It has never yet stopped me. It has not stopped my brother. We are strong. It’s when I doubt this that I fear being crushed by forces so huge that they cannot be withstood.
Yes. They can. And more importantly they can be transformed into LIFE — one second at a time.
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