Untethered

DP821347First Mother – biological mother gave birth to me and gave me up for adoption at birth. Still living, my friend.

Second Mother – adopted me at three days old, raised me maybe even raised me to the best of her ability. Mostly estranged for thirty years.

Third Mother – father’s second wife, my aunt, heart mother, mentor and guide, passed four years ago.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This past week I sat vigil as my second mother let go of this life, with me by her bedside were those who had known her for decades. Women, who had been her friends, her pseudo daughters and who loved her, who knew her, as I did not. They saw a different woman than the one I knew. These women, they also saw me in a different light, knew me only through her and did not welcome my presence. But present I was, not because I wanted to be there but because I needed to be there for my brother and maybe even for myself.

It was strange to hear their stories of this woman who I knew mostly from my childhood. I did not recognize her. There were times I wanted to scream, “You didn’t know.”

I sat vigil. As she lay in that hospital bed, never waking. As I sat, after everyone else left for the night I watched, I remembered and I wondered. I wondered how she could have been so different, shown such a different my.operaface to them and even to my brother than to me. I remembered the tumultuous years of my early teens before I ran away. I remembered the hurt, the hurtful words of childhood. I remembered the loneliness. As I remembered, I kept going back to wondering how she could have been so very different as a mother to me, than she was a friend to these women or even a mother to my brother who hadn’t yet arrived.

Two of the women who were closest to her had known her since they were young teens; their mother had been her friend, when she passed my mother stepped in as a pseudo Aunt. She has known them for thirty-five years. She has spent holidays, vacations, birthdays with them. She has celebrated weddings sitting in the seat of honor, births of children; she has mourned losses, consoled them through divorces and other of lives ups and downs. In their eyes they were losing a ‘second mother’, they are losing a lifeline. The older of the two let me know I had treated her unkindly, that she did not deserve my selfish disregard. Both shared her judgment but she was the only one to voice it, albeit kindly.

This was one of the times my teeth nearly cracked from not saying what was in my heart and on my tongue. As her words flowed, it was all I could do not to respond with venom. I chose not to respond, not to defend, not to try to change hearts and minds. Honestly? Who cares, my own brother who knows at least part of the truth insists I am wrong for not reconciling with my mother.

As I sat vigil, I try to see it from the viewpoint of others. I try to understand their perspective and see things through their eyes. It is nearly impossible for me to reconcile the two ends of the spectrum. Perhaps it is because I have always had such a simple standard;

Untitled

My second mother passed from this world on Monday morning. My brother hadn’t arrived. Once again, I had to deliver the news a parent was dead. He is angry with me I think, I do not feel this death the way he feels it. I do not feel untethered by her passing as I did by the death of our shared father and my beloved heart mother. I fear only with the passing of this mother I will lose him, my beloved baby brother.

wb0115s-th

For the past ten years, when this mother needed something I have been the one to provide it. Whenever and whatever my brother asked of me, I stepped forward and gave; whether it was to move her from her apartment to assisted living, pay for care, talk to providers; I did what he asked of me. I didn’t do it because I believed I owed it, I did it for love of my brother. Now, I think our last connection is broken, because he doesn’t understand me or my hurt I might lose him, this sense of impending loss breaks me.

So I sat vigil. Then I delivered the news of her passing, I held him as he wept at the airport. Then I watched as my brother pulled himself together to act as executor of her estate. We talked and I agreed the women who had been her friends and her companions should be gifted with any of her personal items, I asked only for two things;

  1. Two pen and ink architectural drawings that match a set I already have.
  2. Family pictures from when we were children.

Clearly, others had been more closely aligned and more dearly loved. I will never agree with my brother or them that it was my filial duty to forget, forgive or reconcile our estrangement. At every opportunity, even in adulthood where she might have reached over the chasm, she made a clear choice I was not important and this is what I reconciled to, her choice.

But I sat vigil. She was not alone, she did not pass without human touch and there was not a lack of compassion, not for her or for those who loved her. My second mother was nearly ninety-four; she lived a full and rich life on her terms. I am not untethered in her passing but wonder if I am losing more than the last vestige of my childhood.

The story of my second family is told in Broken Chains: https://valentinelogar.com/category/series-broken-chains/

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Letting go of Animosity

Last week I was in Seattle where both my mother’s live, what a strange twist of circumstance and fate that is. Originally my trip was planned so I could step into the role I have always played so well, the one I am so expert at, Bad and Evil Daughter to my second mother. The plan was for me to move my second mother from the apartment she had lived in for 28 years to Assisted Living, all in a single fell swoop.

The strategy was laid. The deposit was made on her new apartment in the Assisted Living place; it is literally two blocks from where she is now. It is a nice apartment, frankly nicer than where she is living today. The movers were arranged for and the time agreed. Her home care support was notified so they could start preparing her, reminding her she was moving. My second mother has dementia, her memory and cognitive skills on a scale of 1 to 5, five being the best, are approaching two now.

I was going to spend my Labor Day weekend moving my second mother into her new Assisted Living facility. It isn’t what I wanted to do and I approached this task with much trepidation, some resentment and frankly some fear. Anyone who has read Broken Chains knows the story of my relationship with my second mother, the time leading up to this weekend had been filled with a great deal of soul searching and angst. I landed in Seattle Thursday night though and made my way to the hotel with some peace in my heart. It would all be fine, my brother was convinced all the pieces were in place and everything would be fine.

Well, maybe not so fine. The movers, who were supposed to arrive at 9am on Friday morning, arrived at 7am instead. Was I confused? I am certain I wasn’t, in fact I had the move confirmation right there on my handy CrackBerry, right there in green and lime green, 9am. Nevertheless, let me rush across the bridge to and get things moving. When I arrived at my second mom’s apartment, no one was there but her and she was still in bed sound asleep. You cannot get a 92-year-old woman with dementia out of bed and tell her, “come on old woman it’s moving day!” This is simply not the way things work, hell this approach wouldn’t work for me and I am significantly younger. It took her nearly 20 minutes to realize who I was and that I was there, in her apartment.

We talked about her move. She was genuinely confused and resistant to any thought of moving. She doesn’t remember falling and has remained on the floor until her home aid comes the next day. She believes she can continue to live independently and that she is not a danger to herself. She doesn’t remember that she forgets to eat or that she has bouts of incontinence. We had the same conversation at least seven times in the space of an hour.

I called my brother in Korea, it was 3am there but I did not care because I was doing this for him. He didn’t want to be the Bad and Evil Son. We had gone through this with our father who had Alzheimer’s, my brother didn’t understand how bad it was, how horrific the failure was. My brother couldn’t face the failure of our fathers mind. Now we faced the same issue, he didn’t understand or couldn’t face the failure of our mother; she said ‘yes’ but did not retain the information.

I sent the movers away agreeing to pay for their time. I sat with my second mother and continued to talk about the move, about what she needed to make her comfortable with it. I wrote on her White Board, “You Are Moving to Ballard Manor”. I gave money to her favorite caregiver to buy moving boxes so she could start sorting some of her personal things when Veronica was with her, it helps her to feel in control.

I will never hear from my second mother the words I spent my entire life wishing to hear; never will I hear any of these;

Mom and I, San Marco Square, Venice Italy 1965

“I love you”

“I am sorry I hurt you”

“I understand”

Despite my original trepidation, anger and fear going out to Seattle to be the Bad and Evil Daughter, I am glad I went. Although I don’t think my mother knows this, we made peace. She is at the end of her life and I realized in sitting with her over the days I was there, despite it all she deserves my protection and care. For her humanity, for the fact that she was so greatly damaged as a child and was unable to heal throughout her long life she deserves my protection and care. I came away knowing I would always have a small hole, but it was one I could fill by preserving her dignity.

To the other side of this trip, the time I didn’t know I would have I filled in a way I hadn’t originally considered. Early this year I had reached out my first mother, we hadn’t spoken in several years and at the urging of one of my siblings I opened the communication door again. I wanted to repair old wounds and re-create a relationship with my first mother; we had a rocky start the first time. With this in mind, well I just picked up the phone and called asking if I could come to Vashon Island for to visit.

Ferry to Vashon Island

Why not? Surprise I am here!

One visit turned into two, they were both wonderful and peaceful. We were both I think changed in some fundamental ways by life and our experiences. We were both different and the same, but both ready for a different relationship with each other. For me, it was easier to internalize ‘this is my mother, blood and she did what was best.’ I had always pragmatically thought so, but my emotions had overruled my thinking and I wanted to lay at her feet so much of my pain, even when I didn’t realize I was doing this. I can’t speak for her, but at least on the surface she was softer though I worry for her health.

The bonus visit was with one of my siblings, a younger sister! I learned something on this trip, though in my head I have always known. I have this large extended family, some of whom I keep up with at least within the context of social media and some of whom I rarely talk to at all. I think we do ourselves such a grave and terrible disservice by losing sight of the bonds that tie us together. We don’t have to love one another, but at least for me given my status as an adopted child I want at least the chance to know who I love and whether I can love you before I let go entirely.

If you are confused by my references to mothers:

First Mother – my biological mother

Second Mother – my adopted mother

Chaining the Past

My second mother is 92 years old. That is a great number of years to live in a bubble of your own sanctity, wrapped in lies of your own making. For very close to twenty-five of those years we have been on less than good terms, not entirely estranged but certainly not a normal mother-daughter relationship either. Those that know my mother think she is charming, funny a thoroughly likable woman; they do not understand our estrangement and blame me. This is true whether they know both of us or only her. This is also true whether they are family or just friends of my second mother. Those that know me intimately or have read the rest of the Broken Chains series, may have a slightly different view of my nemesis.

My second mother has a touch of dementia now; her body is beginning to fail. She has lived alone since her divorce from my father nearly forty years ago, the next stage the end stage of her life for her to be safe and comfortable she needs to in a place where there is help. This has been a battle between my brother and me, one we fought once before when my father’s health was failing.  Oddly, that battle had the same lines in the sand; with him saying there is nothing wrong and me saying there is and we can’t fix it. The difference this time is my brother is the only one close to our second mother, he had a different childhood than I did, lived in a different home I think.

I have been enraged for weeks now, but finally this weekend my rage hit a wall of secrets I have held and I discovered the batting I had wrapped around family so everyone could pretend there was nothing wrong. Already by Saturday I was hurt and angry with my brother for placing me in the center of ‘taking care’ of many of the issues surrounding my second mother and her care, move to assisted living and finances. I kept asking myself, why is this my problem? I realized I had to let go of the question, I was not doing this for her, but rather for my brother yet still I resented it and could feel my hurt and anger building with each phone call that failed to acknowledge my life was different from his.

SATURDAY PHONE CALLS FROM THE BLUE ETHER

Ring-a-ding-ding

My second mother has a sister, I actually like her a great deal always have. Perhaps this is why I have always kept silent. My oldest cousin was the first ‘Hippie’ I ever met, she was my idol, she died young and it was tragic. My other two cousins are not tragic, rather they are classic East Coast overly entitled judgmental twits, this is especially true of my youngest cousin; let’s just call her Snobbery.

Snobbery has interfered more than once in the care of my second mother. She and my brother have argued over this issue. This time apparently she sent an e-mail to her mother, my brother and friends of my second mother laying out what she believed was right and proper care. I was not of course included in this communication. My Aunt, not realizing I was not included picked up the phone and called me, it wasn’t a call entirely out of the blue so I did not think anything of it until these words came out of her mouth:

“Snobbery is unhappy that you and your brother haven’t acted on her recommendations, I thought we should discuss them.”

I didn’t know what she was talking about of course, had to ask. She told me and finally after nearly forty-five years of protecting my second mothers secrets gave up. First though I told my Aunt that her daughter Snobbery was simply an interfering Bitch and should mind her business unless she planned to pay for her recommendations.

I made my eighty-eight year old Aunt cry. It wasn’t my intention to do so; truly, I had intended to let her go to her grave never knowing anything. Why would I break my silence after all these years? The problem was I simply found I was worn down by the judgment of everyone who knew me, everyone who was supposed to be my family who had decided I was ‘bad’ and I was ‘evil’ and I was ‘ungrateful’. My Aunt tried to excuse Snobbery for her decision not to include me with;

“Well you don’t take care of you mother, you ignore her and her needs. She must have thought you were better left out of it.”

Really? I do that and it must be for no reason at all that I am just that mean!

I don’t know that what I did was the right thing. I certainly didn’t spill it all; only some of the doors were opened so my Aunt could peer inside my heart and discover that there might indeed be reasons for my choices.

More broken chains and I find I am bitter, angry even shattered that so many of my relationships remain tainted by this history of pain. By my choice to keep secrets. To protect those who did not earn my regard or deserve my protection.

Shattered

These past two weeks have been tough; my soul feels as if it has been rubbed with sandpaper the constant grinding polishing until it weeps salty tears onto my heart. My heart in turn feels torn between my love for my brother and my need to distance myself, from my second mother and our history. Just when I think I am done with this the universe spins and the answer is …..

NO…not quite yet

Prodigal Daughter

The first time I returned to my father’s house wasn’t a happy homecoming, not one of joyful reunion; the prodigal daughter returning only slightly battered by her adventures but welcome nonetheless. This is not to say my father wasn’t happy to see me, he simply didn’t know what to make of me; I disrupted the rhythm he and my brother had established and I was not easy. No, I did not fit into the domestic tranquility they had established without my mother.

The Wild Child returns or was it truly the Prodigal Daughter

There was a silence between us an abyss of unspoken anger and hurt. Occasionally that dark silence would erupt, molten heat flow between us rife with all that would remain unsaid. My father was angered by what he saw as my rebellious nature; he was infuriated by what seemed to him my failure to be bowed by my circumstance, my great failure. He truly had no idea just how tipped over I was, how often I could be found curled into myself begging for relief, my pain beating like a tattoo on the walls of my chest so loudly I often couldn’t hear my own heart beating.

I took back my old room, the walls folded in on me and memories battered me. Memories from before my run and memories of my years away. Memories I could not tell that no one, especially my father, wanted to hear. Memories that screamed in my head and battered my heart. My brother was not happy at my arrival; this didn’t make my homecoming easier. My insertion back into my family home was full of angst, fury even. I was seeking safe harbor, my father was looking for the daughter he never had but thought he remembered as if in a dream. We were both so wrong and both furious at the other for our disappointment.

When my brother was 17 and I was 20, I had been home less than a year my father had three heart attacks. He was just 51 years old and had never taken particularly good care of himself. He had been single for five years by this time and had found he enjoyed life without the harridan that was my mother. He had known for quite some time that his heart was bad; he did nothing to correct the problem. This led to a triple bi-pass and a significant change in his life-style. It wasn’t enough. My father was hardheaded; he thought he could outsmart his own body and his family history. He continued to work, play and not take particularly good care of himself for another ten years. His health suffered and this led to another series of heart attacks and another bi-pass surgery.

While my dad was a brilliant man in many ways, he was emotionally stunted. He had a far easier time bailing me out of my ‘difficulties’, the things I did to force his attention than simply listening to why I did them. Don’t

My brother and I in 1981

misunderstand me, there was not a single time after my return to the fold my father wasn’t there for me, not once my dad didn’t open his wallet if I needed help. I paid for those failures though, paid in rancor and ferocity. Paid also in knowing I couldn’t be enough, couldn’t ever be ‘good enough’. These feelings would engender in me such jealousy of the relationship he had with my brother, the easy camaraderie and friendship it would taint my relationship with both my brother and my father for many years to come making it difficult for us to come together and finally find peace.

Ultimately it wasn’t he and I that found the necessary building blocks to make peace, perhaps alone we would have never found our way back to each other. After my father’s second round with heart surgery he finally determined he would live. He retired from the work he loved after 30 years. He took up new hobbies and new interests, including unbeknownst even to him a love interest. I think by then he had already begun to find his heart back home in Texas, though it would be a while longer before he or any of the rest of us realized just how much of his heart he had truly found.

By the time my father had his second open heart surgery I had been through the stage of trying to distract his attention through my wild child antics. It did of course work, but not in a way that made sense. I did far more harm to myself with nothing really gained but his anger and disdain. Ultimately I married once in haste and with deep regret two years later divorced. I had finally married the man I would remain married to for fourteen years, the father of my two sons and the ex-husband of my favorite wife-in-law.

My brother in the meantime joined the Army making my father ‘proud’, words I heard with regularity but not directed at me.

One my dad disapproved, the Wild Child in Action

I sought my father, his attention but mostly his approval, constantly, but could not tell him what was wrong. Maybe if he had asked, maybe if I thought he could sit to hear the truth I would have told. But I could never tell him, he asked me once why I did the things I did;

Because I hate myself

He shook his head and walked away. He never asked why. Maybe if he had I could have told him.

For a little while I stopped outwardly trying to gain his approval, but inside I was always the little girl that wanted to be Daddy’s girl. I wanted him to love me and to like me. The problem was I simply didn’t like me enough to tell him what had been done, I wanted him to be angry but I wouldn’t tell him so he could comfort me. I wanted him to guess rather than know. I was so ashamed I couldn’t tell and so I was angry that he didn’t protect me and instead bought my silence. That was always what it felt like; he bailed me out because that was all he had for me.

When I was still Daddy’s Little Girl

My father missed my graduation, it crushed me but I never told him.

My father missed my son’s wedding, this also hurt my feelings but I told him this one by then our relationship had changed.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I have tried to write the story of my father and I as a trilogy and found it to be far too complex, perhaps because it has an ending that includes a reconciliation

Part I – In Your Absence

Part II – Growing up Texas

In Your Absense

When I was young, I was my father’s child, a daddy’s girl. This was apparently true of me from the moment my parents brought me home from the hospital. My first memory was of my father and all my best memories of childhood include him. My second family pursued adoption because my father wanted children; he wanted to be a father.

He failed miserably at fatherhood.

The above statement is an outrageously harsh indictment of a man who loved his children. I often doubted his love, through my childhood when he failed me so absolutely I often asked why he hated me. Even into my young adulthood, I sometimes would ask him:

“What did I do that was so wrong?”

If the question was asked during one of our many arguments  screaming matches, he always had a litany of my wrongs, I never had an answer as they were mostly true. My father didn’t know the whole story, ever. I don’t know why he didn’t know the entire story of my childhood except he was never present; he lived in the same household he simply wasn’t present.

This is the story of my father and me, another entry to Broken Chains. My father, my Daddy, my Hero; the man who set the bar high for others, but also hurt me first and worst, fortunately this is also a story of reconciliation and redemption.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My first memories of my father all revolve around the shell of a sailboat. My dad always had hobbies, they absorbed him, took all his time and energy. The sailboat was the first of these that I remember. The shell of the boat was in our garage and each day my father would come home from work and change into his ‘work clothes’, eat dinner and abscond to the garage to sand, hammer, saw or otherwise work on the sailboat. Sometimes I was allowed to sit in the boat and watch him work; I liked this mostly because if I was quite I could stay there until bedtime.

Of course there were days this worked out quite well, others not so much. My mother didn’t think the hull of a boat in the garage was the place for a little girl and she would snatch me back faster than my fat little legs could carry me. Other days, well those days I was simply in the way; I didn’t understand then, I suppose looking back, I do now but then my feelings were hurt.

Did I mention my father would pick up hobbies? He became nearly obsessive with his hobbies, in the early years it was that stupid boat first building it then sailing it.

Frappe’

The Hull – Really

My dad built it from the ground up, lovingly bending every board, sanding every visible surface and polishing every piece of brass. When he finally launched Frappe’ spring and summer, boating and Racing season couldn’t come soon enough for him each year. The chance to escape, to feel the wind and test himself but mostly to escape the confines of a marriage that was always a misery. For all the years of my childhood and into my teens, that boat was my father’s escape. It was also the blight of my existence during many a summer holiday when I would be confined in 26 feet of Hell with two adults who spent much of their time bickering, another part of their time screaming either at each other or us and the rest in blessed silence to angry or worn out to fight any longer.

I hated those family outings!

My brother and I were adopted because my father wanted children, he wanted a family yet when he finally had one, he failed to be present. My father was so terribly miserable in his marriage he

Daddy & I, 1959

failed to protect me from the woman he married. Perhaps it was the time, but he also failed to believe me when I tried to tell him who she was and what she did. Despite his own antipathy toward his wife, the woman he choose to marry and remain with for over twenty years, he failed to believe me even after I ran away multiple times. He failed to believe me even after a court removed me from their custody. He failed to believe me even when he saw bruises.

There were so many secrets in our home. Because my father chose not to be present, he was part of the problem by enabling the secret life and world. It was many years before we would finally talk; finally clear much of the hurt that hung over our relationship. His hobbies were his escape, they were his freedom but in escaping to the lakes and seas or later to the mountains to ski (his next obsession), he left me especially to take the brunt of his wife’s fury. It was a long time before the toxic wasteland of my own hurt and rage at his apathy would dissipate.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

As with all the entries to Broken Chains, I will tell the story in three parts. The story of my father and I is not as terrible as other entries, for those who are afraid to read because Broken Chains has been hard.

I will tell what I know of my father’s story and how he brought his history to his marriage and how it affected me especially. My dad passed in 2009; before he passed, we had made peace. It was sometimes a rocky peace but it was a peace forged of forgiveness, understanding and most of all love.

No Bastards No Choice

I have circled this memory so often, shaken this box more than once to determine if it rattled or if finally what was inside had turned to dust. Close hold, this is one I keep buried in the back of the closet and under lock and key, rarely even considering taking it out for closer examination, I know how these skeletons dance. Truth, I know how hot the firestorm will burn when I finally unwrap the chains, release the padlocks and set a match to the dried tinder, I know what is in this box.

I was fourteen the first time I understood what bastard meant. I had heard the term a few times; my second (adoptive) mother had used it in reference to me on more than one occasion, truthfully though I was never that

Florence Crittenton, Courtesy HistoryLink.org

curious as to its literal meaning. In January of 1972, I was sitting in the offices of Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers aka “The House of Another Chance” and my mother was explaining to the woman behind the desk “I would not be bringing another Bastard like me home”. Surprisingly, she also told the woman this was where my ‘slut’ mother was when she was pregnant with me, ‘like mother like daughter’. She made clear one of two things would happen, I would agree to a closed adoption or the state would strip my rights from me with her help. The ‘nice’ lady behind the desk helped explain that as a child myself, I would have no say in this matter, I had no rights and could not prevent this from happening to me or my child.

Did I mention I had hidden my pregnancy? By this time, I was just past my twelfth week and already had a small bump. I sat in that office arms wrapped around myself rocking and stunned by what was happening to me.

SeaDruNar – Seattle Drugs & Narcotics

Don’t let their glossy new look fool you, back in the early 1970’s they met in the basement of an old house in a not so nice part of Seattle. They were ‘famous’ for their approach to dealing with drug addicts and ‘bad-assed’ teenagers; addict-to-addict mentoring and complete immersion techniques that stripped you of your soul, your will, your entire self and then filled the empty spaces left with something new and presumably better. Don’t get me wrong, my badass at this stage of my life included a bit of inhaling now and again, but I was far from any addictions, certainly, I wasn’t in need of hardcore intervention. I was simply a scared fourteen-year-old, with a baby bump. My mother wasn’t having this, she had her heart set on a disappearing act and SeaDruNar was the ticket. After the first session the ex-addict who ran the teenage group told her it wasn’t the right place for me, I didn’t relate to their problems and issues and didn’t ‘share’ with the group.

A few days later, we were back, this time I was shoved into the adult group. These were grown people with grown people problems, led by two ex-addicts. This is where I learned some of my mother’s story, but as part of her sharing with the group she also shared what an ungrateful and wretched child I was. She threw her head back and howled her own pain, instead of chewing off her own leg to release the trap; she gnawed at mine drawing blood as she shred me in front of her willing audience. I resisted their demands I beg for her forgiveness; I should given them what they claimed as due.

Three days of Hell – You Win

For those truly hard cases, those unrepentant hard to crack nuts SeaDruNar use to run ‘camps’. Three-day away camps, where you sit in rooms on the floor with little to eat, infrequent breaks and are verbally, emotionally and sometimes physically abused until you are broken. Sounds fun, right? Back in the early 1970’s, this was common treatment for addicts and hard-cases. There were no real medical doctors, no trained psychologists or addiction specialists present; just ex-addicts, ex-convicts and us the hard-cases who they hadn’t gotten through yet and whose parents signed permission slips for them to abuse.

Did this treatment work? I don’t know, this would be my last experience with SeaDruNar, my mother certainly got what she wanted from it.

I walked into this thinking I would sit for three days and survive. I would ignore the screaming, crying and sob stories. I did not have to give in, I didn’t have to talk to them, didn’t have to answer their questions; I knew the rules. They could scream at me, I could sit silent and there was nothing they could do. They didn’t scare me. I only had to get through three days. This wasn’t quite the truth of the ‘camp’; I didn’t quite understand the rules.

I didn’t know about lack of sleep.

Really me 1971 School Picture

I didn’t know what pressure on your bladder could do to you, or urinating on yourself can do to your ego. I didn’t know about public shaming, or being forced to sit in your own filth for hours before being allowed to change and bath.

I didn’t know. I didn’t know what fear could do under those conditions.

By day three of this hell I was destroyed. My heart, my soul, my fight was gone. There was nothing left of me. I was convinced I was unworthy to nurture life, let alone consider trying to care for it. I was shown pictures of deformed children and they were mine, because I had smoked pot, I had smoked hash and this is what drugs do I was told. I was an addict, I was a slut I was nothing, I was beneath contempt; I believed, but then I had been hanging on by a thread anyway it didn’t take much for me to believe.

“Yes, you win. You win, how could I have ever thought to want to keep my baby, that I might be worthy. You win.”

By now, I was at my sixteenth week of pregnancy. My mother was running out of time, soon my father would find out and she would be out of options.

The Abortion I never wanted was arranged. I was picked up from the “camp” house by mother dear. No time to change my mind to gather back my soul, to rethink or re-feel. No time to beg, though I begged the doctor and the nurses;

“NO, Please, NO. Please don’t do this. Please I don’t want this No.”

I curled on the table on my side. They strapped me down to keep me supine, to stop me from moving.

“No, please don’t please don’t.”

“There will be a slight pinch this won’t hurt,” someone said that just before they stuck needles into my womb.

I was given an Instillation abortion and sent home to wait.

What happens when choice is not choice and waiting is all we can do, the next box I will unlock in Breaking Chains. 

Opening the Secret Box

I said I would tell my mother’s story, what I know of it at least. I do this not to make excuses for her but to show the lineage of abuse. I am one that believes we always have a choice in our actions, no matter our history, no matter what has been done to us we always have a choice. My mother’s choice was to hold her bitterness and pass on to me her anger, her bile and her self-hate. I was the empty vessel she poured all her stored resentment into; I was bottomless; different from her in my emotional make-up, proof that we can be greater than our environment.

My mother was born in 1920; the first of two daughters to German immigrant parents, her sister would be born four years later in 1924. The two sisters were as different in looks, temperament and intelligence as it was possible to be. My mother was short, stocky even with a ruddy complexion, thin hair and her father’s prominent nose and thin lips. My mother was never what would be considered terribly attractive, when you added to this her plodding intellect and lack of curiosity she was simply an average person.

The two sisters

Her sister on the other hand was handed all the best physical features of her parents, tall and willowy, with average more feminine features and most important an above average intellect. The differences between the two daughters was apparent from a young age, the favoritism shown to the younger daughter was also obvious from a young age.

My mother was raised in a German enclave of Cleveland, Ohio. The house she was raised in still stands today though the neighborhood is no longer as nice. My mother and aunt attended public schools though they generally were not in the same schools due to the four-year gap in their age. They grew up surrounded by extended family and friends and both of them were bi-lingual, speaking German and English. It was a hardscrabble existence during the twenties, work was hard to find, money hard to hold onto but my grandfather supported his family throughout the depression.

Sometime around twelve years old she was molested by a neighbor, he may have been a family member. This molestation went on for months before she told her mother. According to the story I heard, her mother didn’t believe her at first. This man was a ‘pillar’ of the church and the neighborhood and so my mother was punished for ‘making-up stories’. Then something happened, I don’t know the full story of what happened to bring to light the extent of what this man did, not just to my mother but to other young girls in that neighborhood. It was several years though after my mother had told hers what had happened to her. The man disappeared and nothing more was said. This was the first time my mother’s parents failed her.

My mother told this story in a group therapy session where I was present. I was fourteen at the time. I held that story as ‘close hold’ for forty-four years. I suspect it was supposed to make me ‘okay’ with her treatment of me, it did not change my view that we make choices. Even at fourteen I knew she made a choice to pass her anger down to me.

As my mother matured she sought ways to escape, to leave the enclave and the family that so favored her sister and had failed her so completely. Each choice and opportunity was blocked by her parents and met with ridicule. My mother was not one to scream her fury, not like the daughter she would ultimately raise. My mother was in all respects a conventional daughter, obedient to a fault and more than anything else she sought the approval of her parents, most especially her father. One of the choices that still stand so poignant, that she told me about more than once is this conversation with her father;

Mother: I want to join the Navy, be a Wave and see the world.

Grandfather: Only unnatural women join the Navy. I will not give you permission!

Mind you, she didn’t need his permission at that point in her life she was legally an adult. If I remember correctly she was at least twenty-one. Nevertheless, in her mind, without the blessing of her father she could never follow her dream to see the world, to join the Navy. I think she would have been great!

She had already been quashed in another desire of hers; even uglier in my mind than her desire to join the navy was this one:

Mother: I want to go to college I want a career.

Grandfather: You aren’t smart enough for college; I am not wasting my money. Your sister is going to college you need to find a husband and have children it is all you will be good for.

My aunt did go to college and received her Bachelor’s degree. She also married well, according to my Grandparents. My aunt produced three children in fairly short order after her marriage, another feather in her cap. My mother floundered, sought to find safe footing on land in a sea of disapproval.

My Mother & Father on their wedding day 1951

She met and married my father, who did not meet with my grandparent’s approval and was likely the one thing my mother ever did that was an act of rebellion. That marriage was fraught with heartache for both of them; if ever two people were divinely mismatched it was my parents. If ever a marriage was proof of why it is a bad choice to stay together ‘for the sake of the children’ it was their marriage.

Before embarking on the adoption journey my mother suffered five to seven miscarriages. She failed at the one thing her parents had told her she was good for. Her failure would haunt her. Her loss would haunt her and eventually would haunt me as well. Her loss of her natural children was as if thorns had been driven into her heart that never stopped hurting, never lost their grip. Adoption did not change this for her; I did not replace her children though my brother was a balm for her pain. My mother told me once many years ago, she did not want to adopt she only did so for my father but she was glad she had my brother; I believe her.

That is my mother’s story.

Part One : https://valentinelogar.com/2012/05/17/secrets-define-us/

Mirror Images, Meet the Parents

 

My “Real” Mom, 1979

You have my face”. These were the first words I blurted out to my biological mother the day we met. It was shocking to finally meet her and thus meet someone who looked like me.It wasn’t I looked a little like her. I stared in stunned silence at my mirror image. Were it not for the fact I colored my hair and didn’t worship the sun, we would have passed for sisters.My mother and I are the same generation being only 16 years apart in age.

Meet the Parent!

You might have guessed I am adopted (Family Ties, Part II/), and I met my biological mother. What may come as a surprise is what else I found; my mother and father married after my birth and had five more children before divorcing. She dropped that bombshell at our first meeting. I felt like my head was going to explode or my heart would stop. I wasn’t  sure what to do with the information; it certainly wasn’t what I expected to hear. The only emotion I had for weeks, even months was, how surreal.

For months our relationship was comparable to the beginning of a new romance. Wanting to know about the other one, who they are and what they like. It was strange and oft times rocky, as romances are want to be. Neither of us was mature enough to understand our motives or emotions so our relationship floundered horribly. Both of us ended up wounded and disappointed in the other; unable to find the balance needed to sustain a healthy relationship we wounded each other and eventually drifted apart.

Our failures, looking back were mutual though unspoken. For my mother her need to re-parent me was dominant. I was in my early twenties, grown and angry parenting was the last thing I wanted from anyone. I had parents, they had failed me miserably, why would I want another parent, especially someone I didn’t know and who had fundamentally failed me once already. I was if nothing else terribly judgmental.

My mother carried a great deal of guilt for giving me up and she wanted forgiveness. Intellectually I understood the circumstances. I spoke the words more than once; even tried to make her understand I did not blame her. Nevertheless, looking back there was a thread of anger through our relationship  partly driven by her guilt and partly driven by my terrible hurt, they married and had more children!

Nature – v – Nurture

When I consider this question in light of my tangled roots I think we are an amalgamation

wikipedia image

of many things combined to create the whole person. My mother was told by a Channeler when she found me she would meet the daughter most like her. Boy was he wrong! I was most like her only in appearance, in all other aspects I was very dissimilar. I suspect this was a horrible disappointment. In one of our more acrimonious discussions I told her she had given up the right to parent me, I had parents and their values, mores and ethics had formed me Thank God. Yes, I said that, it was cruel and looking back it was also unnecessary.

Truthfully? I always saw bits of my mother in me, more than the mirror image. There were times when my mother would say or do something and I would think, that is where that comes from that is why I do that. Those times would stun me into silence.

There were days I wanted desperately to be like my mother so she would love me, so she would like me so she would embrace me and even nurture me. I found in the end I was to stubbornly formed already by what had gone before and could not shift my core to become who she needed. In seeking her I sought the mother I had not had, I know this now. In unconsciously rejecting her conditions I began to embrace who I would become but lost the opportunity to know her and for her to know me.

I haven’t seen or spoken to my biological mother in over ten years. I wouldn’t even know where to begin healing the rift.

My friend and fellow blogger recently wrote Nurture Strength which provides great insight into the Nature -v – Nurture argument. I hope you will read it.

More to come on the oddities of Nature –v- Nurture, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters oh my !

Family Ties Part II

Adoption – Families Created

I am adopted. Growing up my parents tried hard to create the ideal family. The

Captured Family 1964

undercurrent of loathing that permeated our home couldn’t be missed except by the most oblivious observer. Observers like those that placed two infants into this highly dysfunctional home.

My father, my Daddy, my Hero, my true heart. He passed November 2009 I miss him every day. He was not without faults and we did not always have a close relationship, in fact it wasn’t until I was an adult I appreciated who he was as a person, by then he had mellowed significantly from the man who raised me.

My mother, my nemesis yet still the woman who significantly influenced me, is still alive and kicking at 91 years. I will never understand her though I have insight into some of what made her tick.

I have one younger brother also adopted, through our lifetime we have had our battles and even  periods where we barely communicated yet he remains my adored baby brother.

My parents divorced nearly 40 years ago, despite they both wanted it, I heard it was extremely acrimonious . They had stayed together far too long “for the sake of the children”. At the time my brother was still living at home, I was a runaway, they had no idea if they would ever see me again.

Imagination

Growing up I dreamed my ‘real’ parents would rescue me. Some days they were gypsies and would whisk me off in their wagons for adventures. Other days my father would arrive

Image ApartmentTherapy

in his limousine and explain it was all a terrible mistake that he had been searching for me ever since the Wicked Witch had stolen me from the hospital. I had a vivid imagination as a child.

My mother had a rich imagination as well, hers was crueler and entailed taunts, ‘You are just like your mother’. This was a favorite and I often wondered what she knew that she wasn’t telling me. Some days I would probe for answers, I wanted to know where I came from. It became a game with me begging for answers and her taunting she knew more than she did, more than she was telling.

Different Realities

My brother and I have very different versions of our childhood. There are days I wonder if we grew up with the same parents in the same household. I grew up hurt, angry and always the outsider. He grew up knowing he was adored, by all of us and always the insider. The only person that he was ever really angry at was me, I often wondered if he was angry that I left or angry that I returned; I don’t think he really knows the answer.

Forgive and forget, he believes it is my duty that she is my mother. He even says she told him she was sorry she hurt me. My only response to this is one of stunned silence, really? In all the years of our stand-off, all the years where I have stood silently waiting for her to acknowledge the harm she did in her wrath and jealous rages not once has she said “I am sorry” so why now should I allow that it is fine because she told her beloved son what I waited thirty-five years to hear.

Consequences, there always are some for any act. I know her history and I am sorry for the hurt she suffered at the hands of her own parents and even at the hands of my father. She brought her broken heart and psychosis to a marriage and then to child rearing, it was an unfortunate combination she and I.

Family Ties II

Families can be created through the great gift of adoption. My experience as an adopted child is not the norm. My mother and I were a toxic combination that no one could have

Image Selfknowledgecorner

predicted though looking more closely at my parents’ marriage might have prevented their being candidates for adoption at all. Hindsight is 20/20 and I don’t know the state of their marriage at the time of my or my brothers’ adoption, only after the fact and only the history from speaking to those who knew them then.

I am not sorry I was adopted, not even sorry that I was adopted by this couple. Might my life have been different under different circumstances with different parents? Certainly, but I would be who I am and I would have the family I have, good – bad – indifferent they are nonetheless my family.

Family Ties, Part III – Nature versus Nurture

%d bloggers like this: