I just finished chapter 11 of this book. The chapter is over 5,000 words long and is quite complex for readers who are not familiar with the story being told. The following are thoughts that sprung into mind as I worked with the material in chapter 11 which includes a psychotic abuse incident that happened to me when I was five years old the first week after our family’s move to Alaska.
The Dark Side of Mildred’s Mountain series – Angel book 2 beginning with the POP! Goes Alaska letters – chapter 12
12. Spinoff Notes to Chapter 11
Hurts and Harms
I don’t think anyone who has not seen a mentally ill person switch into a rage attack mode can begin to imagine the horror even of what that person’s face looks like let alone what their voice sounds like and what violence they are capable of committing upon very, very young and small children during an active psychotic episode. It would be tempting to describe it in terms of them being possessed by the darkest demonic forces imaginable. But this is NOT what happened to Mother. She suffered from a severe mental illness that was extremely dangerous to her children, most centrally to me.
While there have been times throughout the history of our species and places around the globe where children have been and are being despised, neglected and brutalized, I stand on the side of advancements of civilization that recognize children have rights and deserved to be loved, protected and adequately cared for. I refuse to diminish my recognition of the harm done to me by Mother’s mentally ill psychotic hatred of me just because “plenty of children suffer.” Especially in my case the contrast between the “have” children and the “have not” child (me) was so profound that it always astounds me that I had no ability to have thoughts or feelings of any kind related to my predicament until I was nearly 30 years old.
I had never known anything different and neither had my siblings. Even though I could not consciously notice, comprehend or articulate anything related to these patterns of Mother’s abusive bias for my siblings and against me, her continual anti-Linda mindset, attitudes, feelings and actions HURT me terribly. Mother’s direct verbal and physical attacks on me were periodic. Her mental sickness about me was constant.
While I condemn all physical assaults and all verbal attacks against infants and children, I also realistically differentiate levels of harm according to the degree and kind of mental illness present in an abusive parent (caregiver). What I describe of my childhood with Mildred did not “just” come from any simple form of favoritism, dislike of my “personality,” jealousy by Mother over anyone else’s positive attention toward me, or simply from “bad parenting.” Something much rarer and profoundly dangerous was going on. The kind of harm a mother with Borderline Personality Disorder with an all-good all-bad psychotic split mind does, who singles out one child to be targeted as the devil’s child confined to hell, is beyond comprehension or description.
An image comes into my mind about the way we might think overall about the degrees of harm done to little people by culturally assessed “ordinary” abuse all the way through a continuum to the harm done by “psychotic” abuse. Popular belief might suggest that the level of harm done by what is considered “ordinary” child abuse can be likened to the experience of standing in a long line at a movie theater’s concession stand only to find once the counter is reached that the desired popcorn has been sold out, while the level of harm done by comprehensive psychotic child abuse could be likened to standing in line to enter a holocaust gas chamber.
Although I do not write of sexual abuse because it is not a part of my experience, I do include it in what I say next about my response to anyone who asks the question, “How could someone do that to a child?” If harm to an infant or child has been elevated in anyone’s mind to the level of neglect and/or abuses my answer is this: “All abuse to children is committed because the perpetrator is mentally ill.”
I recognize that doing to one’s children what has been done to a parent when they were a child (the statistic is that 65% of parents who were abused do not repeat the abuse with their children although they will likely experience other kinds of complications with their parenting), periodic stress-induced out-of-control eruptions of temper against children, and even harmful parenting practices based on ignorance of developmental stages of children that prevents appropriate responses rather than hurtful ones all could be considered as being due to temporary eruptions of mental illness. I also recognize the fact that how offspring are treated by any individual, within any family, community, culture, society, nation and species is a direct expression of degrees of health and well-being therein. I do not recognize any excuse about why harm happens to offspring as being legitimate. Harm happens to infants and children because we let it.
All harm done to infants and children is unfair, unjust, wrong and in the truest sense of the word, evil. Caregivers understandably occasionally make mistakes. Nobody on earth is perfect. Preventing mistakes, recognizing when they happen, rectifying the harm done in any way possible and improving conditions that could lead to repetition of the mistakes are essential steps in improving conditions for infants and children. However, in cases where there is deep underlying chronic mental illness far more attention needs to be paid to how such a mental illness affects children involved.
In some cases, such as I would say my mother’s was children most likely need to be removed to receive adequate care elsewhere. That our nation’s child protective services are in a pathetic shambles means that we have vast amounts of work to do before we can make the kind of progress many of our infants and children so desperately need us to make on their behalf. Learning more about what child abuse is and how to recognize it is an important step in the right direction.
There is something very powerful and intense for me about placing memories I have carried for so long – in the case of the one that belongs right here for over 56 years – into their place in time and space within the story of my childhood. Is this what moving toward closure feels like? Why can’t I do this without the dread, the struggle, the effort, the work it is taking me to move forward in this book one word at a time?
Why can’t I breeze through this? My memories are not new to me. In the case of this one every time it has reappeared in my thoughts it has come in exactly the same way with exactly the same details in the same order.
While I know something now as a result of the work I have done up to this point in my writing that I did not know before, I realize that there is more for me to learn and that frightens me. Which would be the worst part of falling through darkness? The not knowing where bottom is or when it will be found? Getting so close to the bottom that it can be sensed as being so close, so much closer, TOO close? How do I stop fearing that finally stopping the fall is going to end in annihilation?
For I do fear that so much was so wrong with Mother and so wrong with what she did to me that if I ever knew more than the infinitesimally small amount that I do about my childhood I would disintegrate. I would disappear. I would vanish so that no trace of me was left behind. I fear that I might accidentally learn too much about the truth of my life, that there is a BIG BANG of discovery beyond which – if I should go that far – I will end up where I cannot return from.
Such thoughts and feelings certainly do put trepidation into my writing. I know the writing itself teaches me things and leads to discoveries. How much do I want to know about how Mother’s psychotic mind operated? How can I understand what happened to me if I don’t? How much can I allow myself to know about what it was like for me as a small young child to be attacked by a psychotic madwoman of a mother?
How much can I trust myself that if I am still here at 61 no matter what I learn about Mother or about my traumas of my early life I will stay right here? I am not going anywhere. Except, temporarily, to get up from this computer yet again to walk away for a little while.
It does not help someone like me to unravel the mysteries of what was wrong with Mother and of what my reality even from being a very young child was like – as I was unmercifully battered for doing things Mother insisted I had done that never happened anywhere at any time except within the mind of this woman who held all power over everyone in her household – when to this day I have never met a single person I can talk to about this reality.
I live in a culture where subjects considered proper for conversation seem to me to be predominantly trivial, trite and meaningless. “Take a pill and solve your problems on your own.” Who wants to talk about anything that matters? Hollywood icons, sports heroes, latest fashions, new gadgets and gizmos, even stupid gossip about people qualify as appropriate subject matter for social exchange.
Don’t talk about why so many are getting drunk and getting stoned, why relationships don’t last, why 75% of our nation’s youth ages 17-24 are unfit for military duty, why a child is born into poverty every 32 seconds in our nation, why our educational system is falling apart, why multinational corporations are stealing global wealth without taxation or why our politicians are squabbling among themselves like a bunch of chickens fighting over a centipede.
I feel as though I am doing nothing more than writing a message in a bottle to be tossed three, four, five hundred years into the future. Even then, where will the real books even be? Is there hope mine will survive that long if I can get them into the collection of the Library of Congress?
Not one single person can I converse with about what I am considering about the demise of Mother’s mind and about what that meant to me. Never has such a conversation happened for me in my life. Am I prepared to accept the fact that it probably never will?
Vendetta Against Ignorance
The psychotic look of rage upon the face and the sound of it in words as an adult attacks a child is not confined to people with a so-called diagnosable mental illness such as Mother had. Any reader who recognizes themselves or anyone else in my words needs to STOP this behavior and get help immediately. It is never OK to abuse infants and children for any reason – ever! At the same time I recognize how deep-seated the problems can be in an abusive parent’s life, and how inadequate our emotional care services are.
I wrote this paragraph yesterday and was stopped dead in my writing tracks when I looked around even this community I live within and could not think of one stable, caring, competent resource person or place I could unreservedly suggest a parent or a child in need could turn to for any promise of adequate assistance. I tried to think in broader terms for “people at large” to turn to should they need help with what troubles them in their self and in their life when it comes to meeting their needs to stop harming children. I found nothing but empty holes where services to truly support families and children should but do not exist.
Why do I continue to wonder why no one noticed what was happening to me when I was a suffering child? Why do I write believing anything I say will help anyone anywhere in any way? What is it about me that believes I among billions on this earth knows anything that matters? What hope have I always carried within me that if the truth was really known about how lovely the inner life of a child is everyone would care enough to make sure nobody ever hurt them ever?
What grownups care enough to clear the path ahead of a growing infant-child so that harmful obstacles do not cause them to trip and fall until somewhere down the road of their life they end up lying on the floor like Mother did in her later years unable to get up?
What macabre culture have we created that chooses shortsightedness over long range considerations about what leads to individual and then societal well-being? Why do we bother to have children at all if so few even want them? Are they possessions? Are they carrion?
Who decides who is who and what do we want for our nation’s future?
What do we consider to be acceptable losses? What is wrong with us as a society that we would consider the life of any child who, if they reach adulthood having suffered from avoidable harm against them in their critical stages of development will be barred from experiencing the well-being that was their birthright (see CDC ACE study pyramid) and be a candidate for being one of our acceptable losses?
I cannot write to expose the combination of factors within the family I grew up in as they created long-term horrific abuse of me as a child – that not one single person ever noticed with concern – without questioning the gamut of societal sicknesses that allowed Mother to do what she did to me for 18 years. There is a collusion of uncaring ignorance in our society that fosters the conditions within which harm to infants and children continues to exist. It is my personal vendetta against that ignorance that motivates me to write my truth. I will be content if my work furthers the education of someone even if that someone is only me.
Please click here to read or to Leave a Comment »