A Shaman Daughter
Saturday, March 29, 2008
I would not need a PhD in anything to understand my own life, or my mother’s if I look deep, hard and long enough.
I am thinking about finding everything I can of substance on Sylvia Plath. Her life was short enough one should not get lost in the tilling. She died a mother of 2 young children at age 30. She did not live long enough to get cancer, really, to have to make the decision to prolong her life – as I have done.
Women and literature – I have that same sort of brilliant laser light into my mother’s mind with these stories she wrote at 10 years old. I think she had a literary genius – perhaps as a savant, but it is there in her writings if I knew how to focus my own magnifying glass upon her words. She also lost her mind in those stories, like the yellow wallpaper by Gilman.
What was Plath’s infanthood like, her own mother? I need her journals, her husband’s writing, 2 good biographies on her. I might, just might read the Bell Jar at the end of my study,. A literary exploration into the psych of a female madness.
One does not have to study every wheel in creation to understand the essence of wheelness. Study of one adequate wheel would do. Same with studying Plath.
I want to read her commentary on practice practice practice in the craft of writing. Talent is talent and cannot be faked no matter how much practice practice practice. The writing itself is in the soul and the mind. Saying so might be like eating the sacred cow, but life is too short of force a fit into academic neatness.
Yet I STILL do not want my writing or my thinking to be polluted by anyone else’s metaphors or images or words of life. I declare my own desire for purity which comes from within myself, and I DO believe it is there. I have thought so for many years, certainly since Glyndon when I first wanted to write.
Yet I also see reference to Plath’s writer’s block, and here I am with my mother’s boxes of journals kept for the book she also wanted to write and never could.
How to untangle the entanglements?
The human brain did not evolve with exclusivity at its core. The life of the mind was no doubt about commonality and communication. About sharing. Languages are built upon shared foundation of images and metaphors. Nobody owns a language. It is a living tool of the people who use it. Yet as writers we are supposed to not plagiarize anybody. How can I read and not guarantee that my mind is not going to stuff images somewhere and pull them out again as “mine?” How can I make that promise unless I refuse to read at all. It’s not actually natural, or a part of the natural way or order of things for us to try or be forced to keep our thoughts separate from one another’s’.
Maybe there wasn’t a doorway wide or tall enough for women like Plath to pass through back then. Born in ’32 she was a mere 7 years junior to my mother. Is that doorway wider and taller now, so that we need not gas ourselves to death when our soul calls us forward and there is no way we can move through that doorway forward?
So Plath really was writing sociologically, about being a woman, only did so beautifully. Was she a warrior for being a whole self, saying on that day, “Today is a good day to die?” Was she a martyr? For what cause, any other than her own? Whose pie was she a slice of? Sociology, psychology, literature, pose or poetry?
Plath and my mother were both from [the same city – am changing the word so it doesn’t come up in my disc searches]. Did the families know one another?
NOTES: Was there competition between Plath and her mother like there was between my mother and my grandmother? Grandma put mother down – discouraged her, perhaps as if grandma thought that if mother “got ahead” of her or took a ladder rung higher above her it would have threatened grandma, so oppress mother, keep her down – where perhaps it went the other way with Plath and her mother?
I suppose to really write one must be able to let go completely. Let go of the edge of the pool, last glance of the finger’s skin as it leaves the hardness of the cement. Let go as does the tree seed as it twirls its helicopter’s pathway slicing air in unknown directions toward unknown destination, torn off by the wind or loosened completely by age and time – and timing.
(It’s very nice to not just be writing about cancer and treatment!)
Yet maybe in some way back in the darker parts of me I have always known since 18 about Plath but had to get close as cancer to death to be ready to look at her. Like some invisible “awareness” edge got pushed back, down or up inside of me, not sure because it might have a metaphorical place, but not a real physical one.
(ER called today and it freed my soul from a cold clamp, increasing constriction – he frees my soul in this world…)
Maybe I am searching for a context in which to place my and my mother’s story. I think I am finding today that they are inseparable as the crosshairs in a gun’s scope…our lives crossed, intersected, transected one another as do the lives of my children with mine, and mine with them. So my story is about my mother and myself in some inseparable way – and together we have a context.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Looked up Complex PTSD online today, is connected to Harvard, and I have it.
If a person is mortally wounded yet is being chased by a hungry mad murderous bear, they will run on over drive and adrenaline as long as they can. I have done that. I have a mortal wound. I am tired.
Nobody should have ever allowed to happen to me what happened to me.
I realize now that not only was my childhood stolen from me, but my whole life has been. I have always been running from the murderous bear with my mortal wound. Cancer has been another murderous bear, and I have run from that, just like the ginger bread man.
I don’t want to take their drugs and have any more of me or my life stolen from me than already has been. This is not a wound that they can extinguish with pharmaceuticals. I am certain of it. All the Paxil did was numb and drug me. I don’t deserve that. But I don’t think I can function any better than I am now, and that is marginal. I don’t see how I can move from this Title V job into the workforce. I never made it there in the first place. But I tried. Nobody ever told me what was wrong with me, but I have figured it out on my own.
I have this disability because of my mother’s. She gave this to me, she did this to me. My father supported her all of her life. The system did not have to do this for her, but I guess I take her place, I am her proxy. She broke me by proxy.
I believe that it was the cancer and chemo that has exaggerated my self-body disconnection and amplified my condition beyond repair. Not that it was ever repairable, but I feel this disconnection constantly now and cannot detract or distract myself from my awareness of it.
I will not allow them to put me on trial in order for me to obtain this disability. It is my mother and my father who need to be put on trial, albeit posthumously.
I also think that seeing Libby has contributed to this decision to pursue disability. I could recognize myself in her, not unlike that instant in the movie Nell where the sheriff’s wife’s eyes meet Nell’s the first time she goes to town and the wife asks her, “Are you scared?” They recognized one another, like looking in a mirror.
I am being punished and crushed by the grueling stone of abject poverty. I do not have the resources to take care of myself. There are no hidden layers of resources for me to tap into.
My mother did this to me overtly. My father did this to me covertly.
I don’t even know that sis Cindy is the same person she was now that she is in Seattle. Intellectually I “know” she is, but not really. Like when an infant learns that something can be in one place a move and reappear in another, how does it KNOW it is the same exact thing and not some imitation replica? I don’t have that ability I don’t think – connected to difficulty in transitions. This is the mind that when I was diagnosed with cancer I did not want to fight to stay alive and keep.
Yet it is not only the disability itself that is so hard to live with, but the financial consequences of it.
Must be tied to incoherent life story, inconsistence in my identities, that I have to be a separate person in separate circumstances. Same problem I guess whether applied to myself or to others. Inconsistencies — nothing being consistent. No internal grounding for this….Therefore, no security.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
I had to come home from work with the shits today. Don’t know if it’s the flue or what. I made the decision to apply for SSD, and here I am 50 years after the homesteading anniversary filling out my application online.
I feel today like my whole world is collapsing in on top of me. It’s like I was born with a super strong body that has carried me all of this way, and it isn’t there for me now. Like I could outrun the trauma of my life, outrun the tidal wave, but not now, and it’s crashing down on top of me – a personal Tsunami. It makes me sad. In applying for SSD, it will all be put in front of my face. All of it, the huge big pile of disaster. This is not going to be easy. Things have never been all right. I’ve been faking it for a long time. I’m sure crying my way through today.
In looking at this it will be hard to feel/see my side, but also what I did to my children.
Maybe this is like a species having been pushed to the verge, to the edge of extinction, and then being asked to describe what that is like.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
It rather amazes me looking back on my adult life how much of it was so sad, and saddens me now. Like watching a movie and having that sense at the end of it, “Gee, that was a sad story.” There’s a generalized blanket of “ick” pulled over all of it. Maybe that’s an overall sense of woundedness and brokenness, that nothing can fix me. Thinking about ER and this relationship. Nothing regarding anything that could have happened differently between us would have worked. There would still be this pervasive sense of – what is it? The foreboding, the unbearable grief, terror? It is, like in Adobe Photoshop, an opaque layer that cannot be moved or altered. It is at the same time fundamental at the bottom/beginning and at the top of my life because it is a part of me that cannot be shed – at least I don’t think it can.
It’s eerie, like it comes from an alien world – which it really does, because it came from the world of my mother – and to the extent her treatment of me formed the foundation of my brain, I carry this with me. My mother’s alien spores contaminate me…. Like cancer? (her mental illness)
It is a black hole that cannot be closed, and a huge portion of my life’s energy is constantly fighting against its pull. Or trying to.
People use that term depression far too loosely in my opinion. Some things are just sad, like me marrying Leonard. I was so lost. Sure, I could have done worse, and I used the best logic I had available at the time. I had no inner or outer security, so I married what I thought was Security. Of course I could not take that external security and drag and drop it into my insides like one can do with files and folders on a computer. I just ached inside.
Back then in 1980 everybody was so busy trying to fix things – what happened to me cannot be fixed. Nobody, including myself, knew what was wrong with me. I was supposedly “depressed.” I was a “victim.” How primitive. How unspecified. How drab, how dreary and how wrong. Like a Christmas tree bulb. We don’t look at them when they have no electrical juice flowing through them to light them up and say, “Gee, how pretty!” We save our delight for later one when things are lined up right, when the bulb is where we desire it to be and it is lit up. Nothing that was told to me back then was really the truth. A partial truth? Like the radiation people not telling me the extent and severity of the damage radiation would cause me, and that being OK?
We can always excuse and forgive ignorance when “science” just hasn’t developed far enough to tell us MORE of the truth. But how many clinicians keep up with the advances? And do I forgive them for not telling me what I need to know just because they haven’t bothered or been inspired and motivated enough to hunt up the recent facts for themselves?
emotional disability: not being able to moderate, modulate, or regulate the intensity of emotion, let alone which emotion is triggered and what triggers it.
Not being able to self-sooth or deescalate.
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