"May I write words more naked than flesh, stronger than bone, more resilient than sinew, sensitive than nerve." _ Sappho

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Life in Terror

The impact on families from mental illness in a parent, is very complicated when this reality goes unrecognized or just plain denied over a lifetime. Then again, support in the broader community is sketchy at best in many places of our nation, making it difficult to find the support many families need, not only to cope, but also to become educated and familiar enough to accept naming what is wrong inside that family, to the benefit of every member.
My whole life until now, has felt the impact of this terror which is still only slowly lifting after twenty-one years of what has included personal therapy; such as in depth exploration in Eastern healing modalities such as Yoga, meditation and much more. Nutritional wellness, rooted in organic nutrition, and a growing awareness of Ayurvedic practices, which includes relationships is an area of health and balance study that is all-encompassing. I call this process: personal healing work. Am I the one who is mentally ill in my family? No, though possible acute PTSD has been prescribed. In context, this is understandable perhaps.
What I have very recently come to understand, is that it is my mother who has always been mentally ill. I suspect this state is the result of her father's abuse throughout her childhood and the youngest of two siblings. Abuse so horrific, she will not speak of it, except to vaguely refer to animal torture that she had to be exposed to, according to his behaviors... I knew him as a mean drunk growing up. Laughing it up with you one minute and without warning, slapping you to the floor the next. No one doing a thing to protect you or comment on the inappropriateness of such treatment or behaviors toward defenseless children. I do remember my mother having very heated conversations toward us kids when we were back home and he was not around. My father was never going to be there. He came from his own family history, drank a lot, and never returned from Viet Nam. Missing in Action for twenty-three years, he was posthumuously decorated (unknown to us during those years), as a brave squadron leader whose remains were ultimately returning home in an ammunition box. We had closure and the highest honors by which to bury his remains at Arlington.
I don't even want to speculate what not recalling her own memories might mean for my mother, out of an uneasy respect for her resistance to her own past. It has taken me most of my fifty-four years now to arrive, mostly peacefully, to a healthy ability to be consciously compassionate for her state of fragility, and the reality that unspoken, this history has been a shadow in the corners of my own life and that of the whole family-of-origin.
Eventually, I will write more on my own transition from the past twenty-one years of healing work, to the rough transition that is in fact transformative work with which my life is occupied right now, after raising my child alone full time, and as I return to the world of fulltime work, and healthier adult relationships.
I am an artist and there is cathartic material waiting for me to speak to, as I transition. For example right now, this link will take you to an interview to listen to, about the Ayurvedic perspective on relationships, with many insights into self. I am finding this informative perspective very enlightening!

This link provides some indication how new this subject is, as it very newly comes into its own!

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