Saturday, August 30, 2008


I was ten years old before I saw a dead body. The summer after mom's crack-up when Aunt MK came and took care of us, NC and I went back to the Blue Ridge Mountains for the summer. MK lived in a coal mining town and it was surrounded by hollars where moonshiners reigned freely. Chickens wandered in and out of the shanty houses, and pigs lived beneath. When we drove back into a hollar to collect kids for Sunday night services at the little Bible church, the roads were so narrow that we would extend our arms and collect leaves and flowers.

Somebody died. A newborn baby. I don't remember whether girl or boy, but the mommy was very, very young and overwhelmed with grief. I had never been taken to a funeral, but MK and MD didn't think twice. The wake was in the grandmother's home and HORROR of HORRORS the infant baby was laid out on a buffet in the dining room--unembalmed! I had nightmares for weeks. I quickly exited and found much to do on the porch and in the yard.
A few days later an older man or woman died. I never left the car. It was years before I could or needed to go to a funeral or wake or visitation and I went with great trepidation. My friend's brother was killed in a bar fight and neither the body nor the family was on display. They were sequestered away while the guests listened to a minister [my mom's crush from years before] give a tribute to a young man he didn't know and an exotration to the living toward a clean and godly life.
Then a good friend's mother died and I had to go again. A sad story and a timely end. Death was easier this time. This funeral became a long running family story. Not to dishonor her life, but for some reason when my sisters and I would see each other after a time away, one or the other of us would ask, "Did you hear that Ruth Smith died?"

Friday, August 29, 2008


Our neighbor was a spiritualist. She had seances in her basement, while her husband repaired cars in his garage. Well, maybe not at the same time. He worked nights.

Her name was Daisy and I remember her with very dyed black curly hair and the brightest blue eyes.

We loved going to Daisy's house. John had a dog he called Yardbird, a medium yellow mongrel dog. John loved Yardbird far more than he loved Daisy. He loved Daisy once, but they had so many unresolved conflicts that it seemed that they were the Cold War. After Yardbird died John let Daisy buy Scottie dogs and she always named them Mr. Stormy. She loved her Scotties.

We weren't allowed to go to Daisy's house because of the seances. We all went, anyway. No one ever kept track of where we were. And, even though we weren't supposed to go there, we were allowed to take care of her bird when she and John went on their fishing trips. And, we went to the store for Daisy. She always gave us a dime for our trouble. That was enough for 2 candy bars.

So... we went to John and Daisy's as much as we wanted.

I only ventured downstairs once to check out the seance venue. It spooked me. I doubt that I saw anything because I didn't know what to look for, and what is there to see, anyway? A table and a few chairs. There was no crystal ball. I don't think that's required for a seance...

I don't know who she wanted to contact. They never had children. She had been married once before but I don't know that story. I think she had a brother who she had loved and maybe he was the motivation.

At some point Daisy gave up the seances. Before she died she was a Christian and had given her life to God. My mom had taken to visiting Daisy's house. My mom was an evangelist. She never had a neighbor who she didn't win for the Lord. Really. She was mentally ill, but God used her in many, many ways.

John died before Daisy and the Cold War ended, but John got the final victory. He left everything to a nephew. Daisy barely got away with the house and the brand new car, which she promptly took back for cash.

I knew how to get Daisy's goat and did regularly. I was a tease. She had a lot of chotskys on her mantel, etc. One was a little black angel. I knew better and never, ever said these words in my daily life, but whenever I visited Daisy I would point out "that little ni---r angel." She would be irate!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


We went to a small Bible church for a few years when I was 5 or 6 and until I was 8. We left the larger denominational church because mom had been sick and Dad thought that a smaller church might we good for her. She really loved the Bible church, and I am pretty sure she loved the pastor, or at least had a huge crush. I kind of even knew that then.

For whatever reason one weekend in early October , the women and children from that church went to camp. It was a nice camp, although rustic. I remember the women working hard to prepare meals. There were Bible studies and the children ran and played some each afternoon. I don't remember if my mom took all 5 of us with her to camp, or if the older two resisted. My baby brother wasn't born yet.

What I do remember is Sputnik. At Camp Good News there were no street lights or ambient lights from civilization; the sky was very, very dark as Sputnik drifted overhead. They were Russians, but it was still cool. We were afraid of the Russians and Communism. They were out to get us. They were godless and militant. God would deliver us from the Russians. But, they beat the U.S. to space and set the level on the limbo stick for the space race that followed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I don't remember when this happened. It might have been the scariest thing that
ever happened to me growing up. My dad freaked out and ran his car into an electrical pole. Mr. Quick brought dad home to pack a bag and then checked him into the hospital--the psych ward.

Wait a minute! That's mom's trick. Now what will be do? You can't trust her because she spends most of the time detached, depressed, and psychotic. He is the sane one--angry, but sane. So, who do we trust.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not into your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path.
Proverbs 3:5-6

It was weird, she became focused, centered, and calm when he fell apart.

It must have been just before Thanksgiving because someone brought us a food basket. I think I cringed, but I usually wasn't too proud to take free food.

He wasn't in the hospital very long. The whole deal was over in a week and I can imagine he was pretty embarrassed about it.

Now for the crazy part of this story. It happened during a two-week evangelical crusade being held at the exposition gardens. Jimmy Johnson was the evangelist. Mom said that dad was "under conviction" and that is why he cracked up. I didn't even believe that then. I was pretty smart for a kid.

I did trust God. I don't think I could have survived without trusting God. Just sometimes it would have been nice to trust someone with arms to hug me close and a voice to whisper, "It's okay. I'm here. You don't have to worry. Just sleep and dream happy dreams and wake up and be a kid. Run, laugh, sing, dance, make music. Be a kid."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


There is a point in recovery where what you are learning integrates with who you are and you become YOU with the realization that you are adequate, unique, and who God made you to be. I am a treasured child of the most-high God!

This is life-changing. You can let go of the burden of low-level anxiety and depression. You feel like playing and you have fun without the usual accompanying, intangible guilt.

When we were children,to survive in our particular environment we had to tolerate being mistreated. Now we no longer have to tolerate being mistreated. We now have a choice.

and, one of Whitfield's best...

We don't stand in the rain anymore and pretend it isn't raining.
both quotes from Healing the Child Within
by Charles L. Whitfield

Monday, August 25, 2008


In God We Trust

I don't clearly remember when I knew I could not trust my parents. There must have been some significant events. I guess when my mom went off to the hospital when I was 6 and 10 and... I need to ask my older sisters just how many times it happened. Many times she was just depressed or crazy at home.

And, my dad had the fight or flee thing down pat. For the first several years of my life he had just the one job and then he decided to branch out. I don't know why. There was a series of jobs--he would stay until he was so offended, mad, demeaned, or discouraged then he would quit without notice. He wasn't a fighter. I remember getting mail one day and there was a letter from DCFS. I was shocked. We were middle class. We weren't poor. We put up a good front. We went to an upper-class church and high school, but we were most probably lower-middle class. It's hard to know for sure because back then no one had or needed so much stuff.

There was the YFC leader in high school. I faithfully attended, babysat for his family, worked the phones, brought in the sinners... But, he concentrated all his attention on the football players, cheerleaders, student leaders. I felt demeaned.

Recovery means turning your difficulty with trusting into trusting appropriately. Share-Check-Share.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


[paraphrase from Healing the Child Within by Charles L. Whitfield]

Needing to be in control is the basis for suffering... relief of suffering is surrender... surrender=winning the struggle of trying to control... Live cannot be controlled... Life is far too rich, spontaneous, and rambunctious. LET IT GO, BABY!

This is an issue that I struggle with. I grew up overly responsible. Someone had to be. I remember JF telling me that with two irresponsible or otherwise occupied parents one of the children will always step up to the plate and take responsibility. Sometimes at a very young age.

Our marriage has been a true partnership. That has taken years of negotiation, but the results are so, so worth it. You never have to guess what I am thinking or what is bothering me. I will tell you. I tell my husband to not over-complicate it. I say what I want, need, mean, think... He has a quieter spirit. Sometimes people think he is a push-over and that I must control him. Oh, my, NO. He is quietly stubborn. It is amazing that we get along so well. 39 years of marriage and counting!

I always tell people that my husband has less emotional baggage than anyone I have ever met. And, I could add that the carry-on baggage that he does have he acquired with years of living with me. He loves me.

It's all about taking responsibility while letting go of the need to control.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


No one would call me a people pleaser now. I used to be. It was SO very painful. I wanted everyone to like me. I heard a sermon once where the guy said something like 80% of the people out there will like you, 10% will despise you, and 10% won't care enough to have an opinion.

Also, another sermon: This one from an old-time English pastor--I think his name was Barnside. "If what they are saying about you is true, mend your ways. If it isn't, forget about it!

I think I recovered instantly after reading Charles Whitfield's book. One of the proudest times in my life was when my best friend introduced me to a new friend by saying, "She is a truth teller." I love that and I do try to "Speak the truth in love." Tell me, please, if I hurt your feelings. I can explain!

Many children growing up in troubled or dysfunctional families learn how to be either aggressive or manipulative or sit back or withdraw. They don't get what they need. They almost never see assertiveness being modeled, are rarely taught to be assertive and thus grow up to be adults who operate by being either aggressive, and/or manipulative or passive, "people pleasers,"or a combination of these.

[Assertiveness] helps us get what we want or need but without leaving us feeling upset or bad.

Healing the Child Within
Charles L. Whitfield

Friday, August 22, 2008


For years I have threatened to create a line of greeting cards. I love cards. I can get lost for hours--or at least long minutes--in that aisle of the grocery store or hospital gift shop. The best cards are usually at the car wash. I don't know why.

One of my favorite inventions from the summer of counseling is "Shame on you for shaming me." I remember driving back to work from my counseling appointment and laughing until I cried. There were others, but I don't remember...

With apologies to my children, the card above is one of my current favorites. One of my sister's children sent it to her for Mother's Day years ago.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I tried to read Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled, but so much of it didn't apply and there were so many books to read... I did truly appreciate one thing he said. As a psychiatrist or psychologist (whichever he is), two types of people sought his counsel--neurotics and the personality disordered.

He said that he could rarely help the personality disordered because they would say that they didn't have anything wrong with them. It was everyone else. The personality disordered didn't take responsibility for anything, and the neurotics took responsibility for everything. So... I have always been and will always be happily neurotic.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Recovery is not an all-or-none issue. Rather, it is an ongoing process that continues in the here and now, over a multiplicity of here and nows... Healing and integration are the opposite of the confusion and chaos of the past... We begin to identify our needs and search out ways to get them met in a healthy manner. And, we begin to practice being real by being our real self.
Healing the Child Within
Charles L. Whitfield

I have been in recovery for over 14 years now. I like me better now. I know that I will always struggle, but that in God's eyes, I am a "kid under construction." I can do that. I can continue to grow and to change with God's direction and help. I don't like criticism but when I get it, after a few moments, hours, days, weeks, I am able to process it and apply what is necessary and I do change. But, if it is unjustified, you will be hearing back from me!

The way out of our pain is through it.
Whitfield, again

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


As we discover our mistreatment, we begin the necessary and freeing process of grieving and mourning. Becoming aware of our anger and expressing it is a major part of that grieving process.

... we can learn to set limits with these people, so that they do not continue to mistreat us. We set limits both with firmness and with love. We do not with aggressiveness, but with assertiveness.
Healing the Child Within
Charles L. Whitfield

Visiting or being visited by my parents was utterly painful and draining and I never knew why. Then I learned about setting boundaries. Ahead of the visit, I would make a plan. A good plan. A fun plan--with a beginning and an end. No more sitting around doing nothing; getting trapped into malicious gossip about my siblings or others. We would meet them at church and then go for brunch. We would meet them at a restaurant or the park. We decided where, when, and for how long. It usually worked.

They began to like me. They began to say nice things about me to my siblings. It changed the sibling balance--they were not used to Dad liking me. They didn't like it. They weren't sure they liked me any more. They thought it was about spending money. It never cost very much, but it was worth millions!

Monday, August 18, 2008


Wondering how many apple carts I am going to upset... When will the jig be up? Knock, knock... Who's there? Fun. Fun who? Let's put the fun back in dysfunctional! Lame, but it makes the point...

Jami Attenberg mentions in the context of her novel The Kept Man that, artists have to pretend their parents are dead. I get that. I don't claim to be an artist, but if you are going to blog about your family of origin, you have to pretend that none of them will ever read the blog.

We all re-write our histories. And, I have known for a long time that my 4 sisters and brother grew up in 5 separate families. We all keep what we can handle, stuff that which is intolerable, and revise and improve the stories. We may write our own stories--I totally buy-in to that--but, we also rewrite our own stories. Don't ever try to reach consensus with your siblings. It won't happen.

And, don't even start the conversation with your parents. Wait to tell your stories until they have passed on, or hope that they don't read or know anyone who reads blogs.

The names have been changed to protect the [not so] innocent.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I used to give great big hunks of myself away to anyone who would listen. It sickened me. Then when the therapist JF suggested the book, Healing the Child Within, I learned to discriminate as to what I shared with whom. The gained wisdom came from a simple formula:


When you share a story, just share a bit. Then let the dust settle and check to see if the sharee is a safe person--someone who doesn't gossip or offer solutions and try to solve your "problems." If you still feel good about this person, share some more. And, check some more...

...when we are aware of experience, share, accept and then let go of our feelings, we tend to be healthier and more able to experience the serenity of inner peace that is our natural condition.
Healing the Child Within
Charles L. Whitfield

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I just remembered... hearing a story of Corrie ten Boome--The Hiding Place. Years after World War II ended and the Nazi death camps were emptied out and the detainees had begun to seek some measure of healing--not forgetting--she was speaking in a church. A man approached that she immediately recognized as having been a particularly cruel camp guard and her heart was filled with hatred and rage. Then God spoke to her and said forgive him. As she said the words, she realized that in forgiving him, God had forgiven her and her heart was changed forever.

I need to practice forgiveness because God in his grace has forgiven me.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I have never truly appreciated poetry. I have memorized some required and some for myself, but I hardly every "get it." Yet, this touched me deeply and helped to open some of the memories I didn't have.

For not in nothing, nor in things extreme and scattering bright can love inhere.
John Donne

Thursday, August 14, 2008


God forgive me, it has taken me years to forgive my mother. Perhaps it took a couple bouts of situational depression and post-menopausal anxiety to lead me to forgiveness. I have forgiven her. I don't deny she could have done better. I don't agree with NC that she did the best she could. But, mental illness was such a conundrum in the 50s and 60s. Electro-shock treatment and talk therapy. It's such a blessing to live in this age of SSRIs and Ativan and stronger stuff I never want to know about.

And, now we accept mental illness as an illness--treatable, and we seem to be able to give grace to those who suffer. Everyone in this culture is over-stimulated, over-worked, under-loved, under-appreciated. Medication helps, it doesn't cure.

"Why can't she forgive her? Maybe in part, she thinks, because her mother's way of getting old, this retreat into ... senility, is only the exaggeration of that earlier retreat into depression or despair or whatever it was that denied responsibility or the importance of her connection to Lottie and Cameron."
For Love
by Sue Miller

"Yes my childhood may have been somewhat bad, but my parents did the best they could..." (detachment)
Whitfield, again

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I don't know why we have all done so well in our marriages and raising our children. Without exception they are exceptional, loving, successful children. Without exception. And, there are 13 nieces and nephews.

Well, I do know why--all those prayers for the five little girls and the baby brother--grandma and grandpa, great aunt VS, aunts, uncles... we were a family of prayers. We sure had our dysfunctions, but still they prayed.

"Nobody grows up in a home such as ours. You just wait to be done with it, and you hope you'll have the opportunity to grow up later."

For Love
by Sue Miller

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


This is a different closet. My grandma's walk-in closet. I didn't know anyone ever, growing up, who had a walk-in closet, but my grandma did. She was precious and cherished by my grandpa. They met when he was 25 and she 15 years old. They dated for 10 years before they married--he was determined to build her a house before they married. And, he did. When the first floor was completed, they married. They lived in that house together 46 years and raised 3 daughters and 6 grandchildren. They had 8, but the other two had responsible parents.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I don't remember if this was me, or not. I think it might have been PM. Some of us were playing hide-and-seek and after awhile we quit. No one noticed that one of us was missing. Later mom led us on a full-house search and found PM? me? I think PM sleeping on the floor of the coat closet under the short rack on the left.

"It was like the feeling she'd had once as a little girl when she hid under the front porch, behind the broken lattice, because her mother had yelled at her. She'd waited on the packed dirt through the long summer afternoon and into the evening--perhaps actually no longer than a few hours, but it had seemed endless to Lottie then--and no one came. Her mother called her once, at dinner, but then not again. Finally Lottie had crawled out and gone inside. And though it wasn't until much later that she was able to articulate the resolve she took from this event, even at the time she somehow understood the feeling, the knowledge that there was no one out there for her. That her mothering would have to come from someplace in herself."
For Love
by Sue Miller

Sunday, August 10, 2008


This nightgown fit inside the doll I am holding.

I don't remember much about Christmases, except that we always got new pajamas and an outfit to wear for the church Christmas program. Our family opened gifts on Christmas morning, but we opened our new pajamas Christmas Eve so that when we were allowed down the stairs in the morning we were snug in our new togs.

One year I went snooping. I remember this. In the very small hall coat closet I found a set of housekeeping implements--child-sized. A broom, a mop, a dust pan... I got found out and scolded by my mom. On Christmas morning there were no housekeeping tools under the tree. I whispered to mom. She ran to the closet and retrieved them. She had forgotten. They weren't for me.

Another year we got our first portable stereo. I was so proud because my twin girlfriends got a portable stereo that year, too. For their room, while ours was for the family. But, still... I was so thrilled. Then a couple of days later it quit working. Dad replaced it with a plain record player. I was sad.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


This was more than an Ah-Ha" moment. This was truly a life changing revelation. JF, the counselor, asked me to make a list of what children need from their parents and then refine it by what I got from mine. I drew a blank and looked it. She suggested I start by thinking about what Chris and I have given to our kids. So... here's the list. The yellow words are those my parents fully supplied; the blue ones indicate needs partially met; the red ones are those not met by my parents on any level.

career guidance
common sense
education guidance
emotional development
financial management
financial needs met
goal setting
good health
good mental health
good nutrition
independence modeled and given
intellectual stimulation
parenting skills modeled
prioritizing modeled
recognition of giftedness
role model
roots & wings
study skills
time management
unconditional love
work ethic

Friday, August 8, 2008


September 6, 1969 My family, at my wedding.

I used to think I could fix my parents--especially my mom. I bought new curtains and rods and then hung them for her. Dad liked the old ones better.

I wall-papered the kitchen with paper she chose and loved. It had olive green and orange on a creamy-white background. We papered one wall and she wanted Dad to repaint the remaining blue walls a matching green or cream. It took years.

I cleaned the basement and the attic, and then we went together and hauled the garbage to the dump--it stunk so badly and there were piles of silt everywhere. The man on the earthmover yelled at us that we put the stuff in the wrong spot. I hollered back, "How could we tell?""

I took her shopping--giving her money to buy something nice. She bought several cheap things instead.

I cooked special meals for them. She loved everything. He complained to my siblings about the weird food I always made.

It did get better after we had children. Dad was always good with babies and toddlers--until they had opinions. Then, he would make back-biting comments about the particular grandchild to the non-parent siblings. You always knew he did the same about you and yours. Mom loved unconditionally and prayed for us all daily. She might have been mentally ill for most of my life, but God changed lives because of her prayers.

We come to the realization that we cannot fix them... And, so we let go.

While it would be cathartic if we could ventilate our anger to these people, doing so would likely not be in our best interest.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Feelings, nothing more than feelings,
trying to forget my feelings of love.
Teardrops rolling down on my face,
trying to forget my feelings of love.

Feelings, for all my life I'll feel it.
I wish I've never met you, girl; you'll never come again.

Feelings, wo-o-o feelings,
wo-o-o, feel you again in my arms.

Feelings, feelings like I've never lost you
and feelings like I've never have you again in my heart.

Feelings, for all my life I'll feel it.
I wish I've never met you, girl; you'll never come again.

Feelings, feelings like I've never lost you
and feelings like I've never have you again in my life.

Feelings, wo-o-o feelings,
wo-o-o, feelings again in my arms.
Feelings...(repeat & fade)

- Morris Albert

Maybe not remembering is more about feelings than memory capacity? I know that is true. I have heard that a lot of generalized anxiety is a result of unresolved issues from childhood. When you are young there is only so much you can process or have any control over, so you stuff it.

Good therapy can help you delve into family of origin and growing up issues and experiences. You can excavate some of these un-remembered experiences and feelings. As an adult you should have a greater capacity to understand and process. You "take it out;" examine it--it really isn't so scary any more. Then, it is resolved. You just have more control over your life when you are of-an-age.

Basically, I feel more alive when I feel my feelings... Our feelings are the way we perceive ourselves. Our feelings are our reaction to the world around us. Our feelings are the way we sense being alive... Without awareness of our feelings, we have no real awareness of life... Our feelings both warn us and assure us; give us a sense of mastery and aliveness... When we feel something, we decrease its power over us.

To facilitate feeling and experiencing our feelings involves risking, sharing; telling our story... Repetition is necessary for catharsis and internalization and eventual unconscious acceptance of the reality of the loss.
John L. Whitfield
Healing the Child Within

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


When I came unstuffed it was gradual. I mentioned the dehydration incidents. The first was at The Greenbrier. I took a 5-day cooking program with Anne Willan and others, including Patrick O'Connell of The Inn at Little Washington. It was fantastic. We had full resort privileges, all inclusive. The dining room was fantastic--three times a day. And, there were cooking demos all morning with sampling and wine tasting, pastry making, etc. in the afternoon. There were some special dinners--one where Patrick cooked the meal for all of us that he had demonstrated in the a.m.

It was divine. My cousin, another student, and I power walked every afternoon to try to offset all that we were consuming--an impossibility. [The other student had not come with exercise clothes and the surrounding towns didn't have much, so she walked in her Chanel designer duds. :) You can't keep a good woman down!]

When it was time for my full spa treatment, I came directly in from a mid-day power walk. It was a very warm and sunny day and there was no extra time to get a cool beverage. I did fine until they tried to move me from the hot tub to the showers... I passed out. An abbreviated treatment followed by an afternoon of rest. I did not understand dehydration and how it affects your electrolytes.

The week after coming home I had my first full-blown bout with food poisoning. It was college graduation week for our son and we had events planned and guests coming Thursday - Sunday. On Wednesday I made fresh asparagus risotto with dried mushrooms for dinner. What is it about going forward with food and plans even when things smell bad? Those mushrooms had a strange metallic smell, but I went ahead, tasting one to make sure it was O.K... It tasted bad! But still, I pushed on... There was a plan, after all. By dinner-time I was feeling a bit protective of my husband and daughter and suggested they eat around the mushrooms.

5 hours later I was retching, gagging, puking, up-chucking. I wanted to die. I ached everywhere and fainting was definitely an option--preferably a coma. I was sick all weekend. We did modify the food plans--eating out instead of one sick mama cooking. I didn't eat at all for days. I made it through the weekend, but as I walked alone across the beautiful Midwestern campus of the alma mater of my son, husband, and later my daughter I knew that I had baggage to unpack.

The next week was a huge one for my company--the annual meeting. I was cranky, confused, and just plain mean. Shocking people--this was before my "people pleasing"revelation. O.K., some of the crankiness was warranted, like the event planner trying to get me to wear three name tags at once as I was filling three roles. Come on. I'm not an idiot!

It was time to call the doctor. They explained that I needed lots of Gatorade, not just a few swigs, and rest and more rest.

I began to catalog my emotional state: very stressed; near burnout. Overly critical; overly analytical. Intolerant; impatient; perfectionistic. Somewhat obsessive, and the inevitable need to please.

Physically I was peri-menopause and experiencing hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms I refuse to delineate here! Intellectually I had difficulty concentrating; my short-term memory was shot-to-hell. I was easily overwhelmed and had feelings of ineffectiveness.

Yet, I was at a great place in life. My marriage and children were exceptional; I had a supportive husband and family. I had a great job. I was walking 2 to 4 miles per day. My nutrition was very good. My faith in a God who saves and delivers was strong and growing. I was walking daily with Him and seeking to know Him more.
I told a friend, who is a "fixer", that I would like to see a Christian middle-aged married-with-children woman psychologist. Within a few days I had a business card and was on my way to recovery.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Repetition is necessary for catharsis and internalization and eventual unconscious acceptance of the reality of the loss.
Healing the Child Within
by Charles L. Whitfield

... The process of confiding is so powerful. Research shows that when people begin to confide, their blood pressure goes up, they begin to tense and sweat and their immune system is less effective, but after they're through, all their vital signs improve. It actually requires energy not to tell stories.
by Susan Baur

My mom was a psychotic or schizophrenic--not just depressed. She didn't have spiritual warfare or a nervous breakdown. She was seriously mentally ill. I don't remember when I first knew that. She wasn't like other mothers. She rarely went to our school's Mother's Club; never walked me to school; never made my lunch; rarely kept up the laundry or worried about what I would wear to school. Everything overwhelmed my mom.

I don't remember much--have suppressed, stuffed, denied... I do remember being about 10 years old and home sick from school. My brother was an infant. She grabbed him in her arms and me by the hand. I was wearing her red quilted robe over my probably inadequate pajamas. She led us out the door and into the street. I don't remember how she compelled me to go. She said something as simple as, "We're leaving." I don't know how we got back home. I think they hospitalized her that night.

My oldest sister just told me a story that may have been the same day--I don't know. Mom was locked in the bathroom singing and praying loudly. Dad came up the stairs to our bedrooms where we were sleeping. He was crying. He asked JA to come downstairs and help with the baby. The next day our mom's parents came to spend the day while Dad worked. JA stayed home from school to help with the baby. Mom wouldn't eat--she thought she was being poisoned. JA remembered she loved Heath bars and ran to the El Vista Modern Market or Sikes Brothers and bought two candy bars. Mom took them and gobbled them down. That night the family doctor came to our house and Mom was sent to the hospital. Dad's parents drove the two hours to our house and grandma stayed with us for several weeks--going home on weekends to organize grandpa's life, laundry, and food.

I faintly remember this, but could never have recalled it if JA hadn't told me the story.

Monday, August 4, 2008


1954, about.

We were a family of tattlers. A veritable bevy of tattlers. A way to get attention? To get even? To gain superiority? "She hit, bit, slapped... me." "She won't get out of the bathroom... let me in... open the door..." "She went to a movie; a dance..." "I saw her talking to that older boy--the hoodlum."

We taunted each other--"Go get the bottle and diaper." "Fatty, fatty 2x4 can't get through the bathroom door, so she did it on the floor. Licked it up and did some more."

My mom said that she and her two sisters never argued. Revisionist history.

We would threaten each other to not borrow clothes without asking. I would wait until my older sisters left for high school and then wear the prized mohair sweater or new pleated skirt. One time NC made me take off the knee sox I was wearing with wool long shorts. I was ready to leave for a skating party and she was merciless. There are many, many, many of these stories.

I was the biggest tease. I would grab the phone when JA or GJ's boyfriends called and tell them preposterous things--usually true. Once JA grabbed repeatedly for the phone and I was wily. In frustration she bit the soft underside of my upper arm. Her bite left a black and blue imprint that lasted for weeks. She denied that it ever happened. Another time I kept GJ's boyfriend company while he waited her to get off work at the Kroger store. Efficient as always, I shaved my legs with GJ's electric razor while talking to him in the living room.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Do you know that thing? Add the name of your childhood pet to the name of the street you grew up on--that's your porn name.

I could be Princess Hudson, Fluffy Hudson, Toby Hudson... There were so many dogs over my childhood. The neighborhood ruffian, Frisky, taught each one of them to chase cars and they all died trying. Except Princess. She went nuts and ran away. Dad found her after a couple of weeks and brought her home, but she reacted wildly and ran off again with him chasing her unsuccessfully. I think she had had enough. I understood.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


In 1994 I came unstuffed. I had a couple of experiences over a short period of time with dehydration and shot the blazes out of my electrolytes. The end result was that I asked a friend for a referral for a psychologist and won the big lottery. It wasn't that JF was so full of wisdom; mainly she just listened and nodded. I do remember during our first session as I told my stories of growing up, she said, "It was like two kids trying to raise kids and not really wanting to."

"Lottie told Elizabeth of the permanent silence that had fallen between her mother and herself, of the sense she'd had of being orphaned from very early on..."
For Love
by Sue Miller
To cover up the pain we use relatively unhealthy ego defenses which give us fewer possibilities and choices in our lives.
Healing the Child Within
Charles L. Whitfield

Friday, August 1, 2008


He was drunk. I do not know why my mom decided to take me for a sitting alone--there were 5 little girls, after all. I think I was 4. Mom said that he smelled of liquor and I was afraid of him.