Friday, April 18, 2014. Being such an important part of the early growth and development of this little boy, my grandson who will be 21 months old on Sunday, is showing me how every single interaction he experiences is helping him become the person he will be in his body for the rest of his lifetime. Oh, the things I did not know when I raised my own children! There are spotlights of realization throughout each day. Sometimes I simply gently tease him, knowing that NOTHING that is happening to him now – as important as these things actually are – will be available to him later as conscious, explicit, autobiographical memory.
Implicit memory forms us. Those are the memories that are both forming the body a little person lives within at the same time they form themselves INTO that body. Yesterday (and other earlier days when the crabbies overtake him) I tease him by showing him my false teeth. There are many different ways to entertain a fussy baby with portable teeth I have come to find out. All of them create the most precious look of “WHAT?”
Will he remember grandmother with the removable teeth? He points to mine in their cup, points to his own in his mouth, and having no words with which to TALK about what he is seeing implicit memory regarding teeth is being formed for and within him.
Yes. A tiny thing. But a reminder to me of how every early experience matters in the formation of a human being.
One of the most delightful yet intriguing patterns of this little boy is the verbalized thrill he expresses at least 100 times a day while I care for him. ‘I DID IT!” Yesterday this verbal expression of absolute self-confidence was followed by what I thought was “OH! YAY!” My daughter told me later that there’s a cartoon video the boys watch (my other grandson who goes to a daycare center just turned 4) in which a character shouts HOORAY after an accomplishment, so I suppose that is what the baby was saying.
HORRAY? Never that I can imagine during the 18 long years of my severely abusive childhood can I imagine I could recognize this feeling inside of myself. Long-time readers here know that I have spent many, many months working through my mother’s letters in the creation of what is now 9 more waiting manuscripts. (The first one is epublished, see below.) The last two of these include my commentary on my mother’s letters which exist in the first 7 manuscripts.
I quit writing suddenly one day at a point where I realized I was DONE with manuscript #10. At that point I was halfway through my 1st grade of school. As I read in mother’s letters the horrible things she said to me to her mother about having to watch that “Linda doesn’t get too proud” because I was such an ACE of a student — I felt for one of the only times in my life true RAGE at my mother and what she did and was allowed to do to and with me.
Perhaps the easiest and simplest way to detect abuse in anyone’s childhood is to listen to any “story” (crime report) of an event that triggers this reaction: “How could anyone do such a thing to a child?” This is the healthy reaction to childhood abuse.
I have, of course, faced that question thousands of times as I have worked to heal from the tragedy of the abuse that happened to me from birth. As I have written on this blog in the past it was a very helpful turn for me to realize one day that 15,000 years would have been a minimum jail sentence for Mother in response to what she did to me — and that would have been ONLY in response to her physical abuse of me. Of course there is NO possible way to estimate the kind of damage parents (and others) can do to infants and children. What I gave to myself the day I came up with that number was a freeing reality check.
It is (was) the removal of the positive along with the presence of the terrible negative that so harmed me. Where was the tipping point in my early life beyond which there was no possibility of complete repair? Because I know of Mother’s psychotic break during her birthing of me I know that that point came for me by the time I was my youngest grandson’s age.
How strange it all seems? Why these words as a title to this post?
I continue to watch time extend a small event I experienced into the increasing distance of my past. I am having many “repercussion” thoughts from this event. To understand it would take several more lifetimes.
As I have mentioned in previous posts it has mystified and amazed me that I made this 2000 mile move north last October only to find when I arrived here I did so as a complete non-driver. What happened? I still don’t know. How will I “get past this?” I still don’t know.
One afternoon about a month ago now my son-in-law drove me to the car insurance office so I could switch my account from covering my dear ’78 el Camino which is parked in an old garage for storage to the 2003 Mercury Sable station wagon my oldest daughter so sweetly bought for me to drive here. Never mind I still CANNOT drive. The switching of the insurance must have felt to me like a step in the right, hopeful direction.
Then he drove me to the music store so I could arrange for my first drumming lesson. As I returned to the car where he sat waiting for me my daughter called. An arrangement was being made to go eat (with a great coupon) at the mall food court which was very near.
No big deal! None of it really! I see the family often. BUT!! All of a sudden as I picked out my own dinner and sat with my family, including my little grandsons, there in that court I felt something I had not felt for so many years I could not really even name it.
I felt OK!
I felt HAPPY!
Suddenly it was like the darkness that I evidently live with continually was replaced with a brilliant light.
A weight that surrounds and nearly crushes me every moment of my life disappeared.
I felt FREE!
Yesterday, as I continue to watch that half hour of true pleasure vanish past the horizon I realized every description I have come up with so far has missed the most important point: Because of my dissociation, a direct and permanent condition allowing survival of what was done to me from birth, I am out-of-sync with the experience of the passage of time as experiences of myself experiencing my own life happen.
The result is the dissociative sensation of “depersonalization” and “derealization” I evidently live with ALL of the time with hardly any exceptions.
That half hour to 45 minutes in the food court held a POWERFUL exception that mystifies me. It is a mystery that I am continuing to both marvel at and attempt to understand. If I could understand WHAT happened during those moments could I reproduce those conditions so that I could enjoy — and I mean IN-JOY that state more often?
I cannot remember the last time I felt that way. Ten years ago? I don’t know. It is THAT rare. I felt real. My family felt real. That small world felt real. I now look back and view those moments in the light of, “I never before realized how feeling real could feel so good.” The rest of the time? I am so, so lonely for that feeling.
I do not deserve to suffer the way that I continually do because of the changes in my physiological development that trauma caused me. Two years ago or so as I wrote on the blog I had a full-body memory come to me of being severely beaten when I was only a month older than my youngest grandson. Making it through even that one of THOUSANDS of severe beatings in my childhood was a miracle. I live with the price that has to be paid to endure such trauma.
I find myself feeling disappointed that I cannot write more clearly about this topic. I want to be remote, clinical, objective, detached, “scientific” about a condition that controls my experience of myself having this life.
Nothing interrupts my grandson’s experience of himself living his life. He is building a CONTINGENT and CONGRUENT and CONTINUOUS self — in a body that will allow him to operate from this state for the rest of his life.
My experience was in polar opposition to his.
Yet on some level, and I believe it is at the level of my soul’s perception, MY way of being in this world as I was forced to be “this way” is very, very strange. I KNOW from the depths of my soul that “this” is NOT RIGHT. I also increasingly know how impossible it is for me to change HOW my body operates during my lifetime.
I cannot CHOOSE to make “all of this go away.” I cannot reform my body (nervous system, brain, calm-stress response system, etc.) into the kind of body my grandson currently has and will have. We can “simply” say this is the difference between those raised in safe and secure attachment environments versus what happens for those who are not.
But it is SO BIG!! When it comes to trying as an adult “to make things better” for myself there are simply too many variables at play. Sorting them out IS taking my lifetime.
Why a food court for heaven’s sake? Why that slice of magical time, of “perfect grace” in THAT spot at THAT time?
Obviously it makes no sense and is not remotely helpful for me to ask “What is wrong?” in my life. The hard question is, “What went so right at that point in time?”
I am reminded of a very clear dream I had about 25 years ago. Even then it seemed strange to me that it took place in a mall! I was wandering along the corridors, turned a corner in the sterile harsh mall maze and found myself facing a massive glass floor-to-ceiling window that ran for many feet along the hallway. There were bottom hinged small windows that were pushed in.
I knew I COULD climb through at the same time I knew I COULD NOT do so.
I gazed at a gloriously beautiful technicolor world full of lush plant life, heavily laden fruit trees, joyous people playing together — all back lit by the most brilliant display of stars in a ink black sky banked on the sides by brilliant rose, peach and gold colored clouds.
There was a world I was forbidden by circumstances beyond my comprehension from entering; a world I could not be a part of.
I am a wilderness person, not a mall or even a city person. This mall experience is “something else,” a mystery I do not give up on unraveling. Not for myself. Not for others who know exactly what I am describing. I seek answers. How could I not?
Here is our first book out in ebook format. A very kind professional graphic artist is going to revise our cover pro bono (we are still waiting to hear that he has accomplished this job – I think we will have to find an alternative!). Click here to view or purchase –
It lists for $2.99 and can be read by Amazon Prime customers without charge. Reviews for the book on the Amazon.com site