The Dark Side of Mildred’s Mountain series – Angel book 2 beginning with the POP! Goes Alaska letters – chapter 1
1. Whole Rainbow
While this is the tenth book of the unfolding Lloyd family saga, it is the first one in which I face myself in the story of my own childhood. As I begin this book I find myself wishing I was about to tell somebody else’s story. There would be no personal risk or emotional investment then. No howling raging banshee Mother to lie in wait to attack me. I would not struggle to both carry defenses against and to remain open to whatever I might discover next.
All of my writing in books preceding this one has been in reaction to my mother Mildred’s descriptions of herself in her life. That she was unable to separate herself from me, her first born daughter, the second of her six children, has created for me the unique challenge of having to separate overlapping edges of our shared story to find my own. I was the devil’s child figment of Mother’s imagination. I was not a child in my own right in her mind.
Because Mother never let go of me as the all-bad projection of her I lived as an exile in my own life. Any time I was not under direct attack from her I was a refugee as an outcast from our family. While all of Mildred’s children were her possessions being no more than toy dolls who were trapped as prisoners in her Borderline Personality Disorder mind, I served the master of her psychosis that had removed the threat of the devil coming to get her from Mildred’s life until I left home a month after my 18th birthday.
As I have written in Story Without Words it was sometime during her difficult birthing of breech-baby me that Mother’s psychotic break happened as it caused her to believe that the devil had sent me to kill her. At this time an irrevocable split was created in her mind that divided her reality into two worlds. She could live in her “upper” all-good world because I existed as the replacement for her all-bad self in her “lower” world of hell.
I found only one faint glimpse of the pervasive underlying light-dark split in Mother’s mind within her writings. On March 29, 1960, while on our mountain homestead, Mildred wrote of her recent dream:
“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 buildings – 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 apartment buildings 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 building 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.”
The upward brilliant arch of a rainbow is matched by its invisible arc that completes its circle below ground. If Mildred could have equally buried me underground she would have. She could not do that because she needed me to be the living all-bad “invisible” counterpart of her all-good “visible” self. Her ongoing life demanded this of me. Yet it was only my body that Mildred could allow to live. No part of me that was a person separate from her version of who her psychosis demanded me to be could exist.
There is nothing about my child abuse story that is not about Mother’s Borderline Personality Disorder psychosis. At the same time, however, I do have another story of myself in my childhood to tell. I remained alive as a person separate from Mother’s pervasive, invasive psychosis about me. No matter what she ever thought, felt, or said about me, nothing she ever did to me could change the fact that I experienced the 18 years of my childhood – my way.
No other alternative was ever given to me. Nobody ever helped me once we moved to Alaska and left my grandmother behind in Los Angeles. If I had ever taken any route other than the one I did through those years I would have either died or lost my own mind as Mother had lost hers. Yet my capacity to endure and withstand suffering seems even to me to be beyond comprehension.
There is evidently a force of life itself that both pushes and pulls a person through the unendurable at the same time it provides protection against destruction. Life itself sustains life itself. Not only did I live to tell my story – I will tell it now. My task does not appear so insurmountable to me if I think about finding only one word at a time with which to tell it. Even so the next word that comes to mind is this one: Scary.
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