+CHAPTER 2, BOOK 2 OF “THE DARK SIDE OF MILDRED’S MOUNTAIN” (‘Angel’)

The Dark Side of Mildred’s Mountain series – Angel book 2 beginning with the POP!  Goes Alaska letters – chapter 2

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2.  Inner Landscape

If I were to begin writing the story of my childhood from this point forward without having Mother’s letters to work from and within, I cannot imagine how I would proceed.  But I don’t have to imagine and I don’t have to write without them.  Mother could give me nothing I needed while she lived.  After her death she provided a great deal of what I need to heal my story.  For this I am grateful. 

Children are supposed to be lovingly guided through childhood by their parents.  Most of how I was treated by mine was criminal.  Yet I was not without benefit.  I partook of a child’s life simply by the accident of being a child.  I had a child’s body, a child’s brain, a child’s imagination, endurance, creativity, flexibility, adaptivity, simplicity, curiosity, sensitivity, and an innate sense of hope that came from having no other way to live.

Nobody could take my being a child away from me.  I was naturally eager, interested and open to ongoing life.  I was a native to innocence.  I did not question what had no answer, nor did I look for reason.  I expected nothing other than what was given to me, good or bad, nor could I ask for anything different.

I make a distinction between being a child and being able to experience childhood itself.  Abuse removes safety by definition.  My experience of being a child experiencing childhood was always brutally interrupted at some point.  At those times I was not a child having a childhood.  I was a child surviving abuse.

The patterns of being interrupted by abuse in my childhood were more damaging to me than was the abuse itself.  Physical injuries heal.  Changes made in the developing body-brain-nervous system from abuse during early years of life do not.  These patterns had been present since my birth (see Story Without Words and book 1 of this series).  They built dissociation – alternative physiological patterns of connecting self and experience together – into me and long before the time we reached Alaska I had already suffered greatly from the abuse Mother in her psychosis had done to me. 

Only in a world of hell would I consider dissociation to be of useful benefit to a child as it was to me.  I could not have survived if my own reality could not have been separated from Mother’s periodically.  The physical reactions of the powerful emotions related to living under continual duress alone would probably have made me sick and/or destroyed me if there had been no way to shut them down, turn them off and make them go away whenever possible.

None of these patterns were anything I could think about.  I was too young to do so when the trauma began in my life.  Being hated, blamed, shamed and abused was my only reality.  I knew nothing else, and I had no way of ever knowing there could have been a different life for me.  How could I have?

After I have finished writing my way through the Alaska years of my childhood I plan to return to the start of my life to track myself through the California years.  Preserved among Mildred’s papers were a collection of her diary entries that cover part of those earlier years of mine and my siblings’ lives.  It is extremely difficult for me to face and write about the abuse that Mother did to me when I was so very, very small.  I have discovered that when I get close enough in my writing to those experiences my body reacts with its own overwhelming memories.  It would also be difficult for readers to face that level of abuse to one so young, as well.

As I move forward through the next years of my childhood in Alaska it is easier to imagine that I could have had some clear inner resources to draw from to survive Mother.  I did.  But it is important to realize even by age five I had not developed in the same ways that ordinary non-traumatized well-loved and cared for children do.

I had no language for feelings.  Any part of me that existed as my own had been instinctively hard fought for at great cost to me in ways I had no way to comprehend.  I had been told I was different from my siblings in extremely negative ways since I was born.  I had been terrorized and battered in ways few can imagine during those California years.  My personal self-space had been continually aggressively and violently invaded so that I had been forced into narrow and confined inner spaces at a time in my development when my self-space and my mind needed to expand rather than contract.

There had been almost no play (an essential component of childhood) allowed to me either with my siblings or with other children.  I had suffered wild uncontrolled verbal and physical attacks by Mother for things that made no possible sense to me for so long before we moved to Alaska that it was impossible for me to consistently form any concept of my own self in the world I lived within other than the one Mildred had beaten into me from my birth.

Sooner or later every segment of my own experience of myself in my childhood had been interrupted by a psychotic eruption within Mother that shocked me out of my life and into hers.  I could not prevent, predict, avoid or escape any of these attacks no matter what I did or did not do. 

I was fair game to Mother.  I was her prey.  I was the target for the terrible sickness in her mind.  Her insanity ruled and ran my life and had done so forever as I knew life.  There was no reprieve.  There was no salvation.  There was nowhere to hide and nobody to help or to save me.  Through all of this I had done the only thing anyone could have done:  I lived. 

It was not the negative patterns of my life that changed once we moved to Alaska.  It was the positive ones.  Alaska itself sustained me.  The benefits of living there far outweighed the harm mentally ill psychotic mean Mother could do to me.  I was no longer a veritable orphan under attack, surviving hell alone.  I had been called home, and I didn’t need to die for that to happen.  Instead I was given the abundance I needed to go on living.

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