Friday, February 21, 2020

Casualties at Home

 it might as well have been a warzone. from 1954 to 1967.
 my diagnosis of PTSD at the age of 57 was proof
 of the battleground that described the house
 on 4400 SE Howe Lane in Arden Park, Milwaukie Oregon

To this day I have not been able to go back through the door, even in therapy as a meditation exercise. I stop at the front door, unable to touch the door nob or knock. As the oldest, I remember more painful events and to this day I am told by my sisters they do not believe many of my recollections. This is the main tragedy of a dysfunctional family, especially for the siblings. The age differences create different memories and a need to forget does not make room for other painful ones. Memories of domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect are best hidden away and forgotten. More easily done amongst strangers.

We were children, helpless to affect the events around us, yet learning how to manipulate as an individual survival strategy. There was no sense of a combat camaraderie as soldiers have, "in this together." And a lack of this attitude is even stronger as adults. It is as though we are all MIA as in "May [prefer] not return home". As of this date, it has been 8 years since my three younger sisters chose to stop seeing me or have any communication. Hurting each other is what we do. Forgiveness is what we need. Healing is what I pray we all will want for ourselves and each other. Mathew 18:21-35

This 1959 photo reminds me of a Christmas that was not an example of how we saw our family in 1993. My mother was at a loss for the reason we all were so willing to leave "home", in Oregon. All our cousins lived within a few miles of my aunts and uncles! So in 1993 on Christmas, my mother did not see or hear from any of us. I was in a Buddhist monastery in Carmel California mountains for 6-month silent retreat. Teri was in New Brunswick Canada with her two kids and a business to run. Lana was in Alaska with her new fiancé and Lisa in Miami running her Travel agency. We could not have lived any further from each other and from my mother. Hawaii was still a possibility? We all received calls, my mother was in the hospital in January and had a code blue twice. We should come to her asap.

I actually took two days to decide to leave. It was a long journey by jeep, bus, plane, and taxi to get there, and did not know if I would make it in time. I decided to go. The plane was held over in San Francisco because of bad weather in Portland. I could have been there faster by Greyhound bus! I asked to speak to my mother in her hospital room while waiting at the airport. They could not locate anyone by that name during my call. Then everyone near the check-in desk heard me yell out, "you have LOST my mother?". The next voice was my mother on the phone asking when will I be there, saying," I am fine, I am sitting up and finally eating some prime rib!" All my three sisters were there. My mother's broken heart from Christmas was already on the mend. My reunion with my mother was healing for us both. As I entered the hospital room she asked everyone to leave us to be alone. She looked up at me and smiled as she confessed she no longer was afraid to die, yet she must share her knowledge of the way I had been all my life as a child. "You have always been afraid, and I have not known how to help you." I was later to fully understand this fear as to how much I felt unloved by my mother and her inability to show me, until that day in the hospital. She loved me enough to tell me the only way she could express it. Psalm 147:3

What has Love got to do with it? 

From a distance, I have seen how each of my sisters survived and endured over the years.  Created fulfilling lives for themselves. I am very proud of them. Happier now for them than I am saddened by my not being able to share in their successes and triumphs. I miss not being able to love them directly, yet from wherever we are, I want them to have all they strive for because I know what we lived through as children and have all overcome. Acts 20:24


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Born into LOVE

remember those that.." loved us into being".

Psalm 139

 A quote from Mr. Rogers in a remake of his life in a 2019 movie, starring Tom Hanks. I have not seen it yet, but an interview with the actor included a scene with this statement by Rogers. There I sat, stunned by the thought that my parents wanted me. My father was so disappointed by me not being a BOY. I heard this in his voice, over and over, as he so admired all the nephews. My name was to be "Lance". My mother endured many arguments with her mother in law and my dad over circumcision or not. Dad was vehement about it. No one was going to call him "unclean", nor would his son be. He would NOT be cut. Mom confided in me, at age 35, that she was so stressed, she considered ending her life over it. I know now of my father's deep prejudice of the Jewish people and this was also in his strong feelings about it. So my mother, not the mothering type, has four girls, in hopes of having a boy for my father.

  I went to my old photos and found two pictures. and I looked at them closely. I had not really seen them. Here was my father proudly holds up his firstborn daughter. Out of his own life of brokenness, addiction, family neglect, and being at his father's side during a fatal logging accident, my father kept on living. My mother's own upbringing in a southern Idaho religious cult, after sexual abuse by the founder and eventual exile by her own family, met my father and was willing to start a family. What follows my birth is more trauma for my whole family. Drinking leads to domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect.

Therefore, I have spent most of my adult life on a psychological roller coaster. In therapy since college. Literally in a bi-polar adult lifestyle, emotionally up and down, now understood as both genetic and caused by childhood trauma creating my PTSD. There was little room in my mind to establish much self-esteem. At my core was the belief I was not good enough for my dad.  My journey has been about finding my "wholeness" and my true Father. I was baptized and confirmed while taking religious studies at the university. My dad, when asked, came to my baptism, the only family member to do so. I so wanted Him to accept me. I can now see the relationship with my own father and my concept of my Creator was the same. If I was not good enough to be loved it was better to not believe in a Holy Father at all for I would never be worthy. So I explored other practices, Zen, Buddhism, Taoism, and more. Looking for a way of life I could be proud of myself for living.

It is now clear to me, in these photos, that my parents loved me into being. With every bit of heart, mind, soul, and strength they left their pasts behind and went on with life and I am here as living proof of this hope for their futures. Just as God loved us all into being and sent his Son, Jesus to show us how to be fully human, to love, with all of our traumas and weaknesses. My parents both chose to go on with living, to pursue some normalcy, happiness, and hope for the best. I was taught how to be a survivor, to endure another day. Because of this endurance, my mother would hold a factory job for 11 years with weekly rotating shifts. The only job that paid a woman union-wage so a single mother could raise four children and stay off welfare. We had to look on a calendar to find out if our mother was home, sleeping or working. We were called " latch key'' kids. My father barely kept a job after mom divorced him twice and injured himself falling two stories off a scaffold at work after showing up hungover. He even survived a suicide attempt at 55, to become sober for the first time during the last two years of his life. He had been drinking since his week-long binge, after watching his father die in his arms, nearly cut in half from a logging accident on the Oregon coast. He was 17.

My father taught me loyalty to family, tradition, Norwegian pride, the pride of one's craft, and the gift of gab. He was also a very affectionate man. My mother taught me commitment, respect, and gentleness to all living things, and not to fear independence.

 My parents' lives have given me faith in God. I can see God's grace. We CAN love, bring joy, give, and receive forgiveness. Carl "Windy" [story teller}and Alberta "Bert", thank you for being my parents, your firstborn "Judy Lynn".

                                                                             Joy and blessings.

from my dear friend, Lindsay

My Chosen Theme

What has LOVE got to do with it?


First of all, I am 70 years old and do not profess to know the full meaning of this word, or what it means to love another, let alone myself. I will spend my whole life and probably the life of this blog writing about the only subject I could deem worthy.

Second, the word LOVE here is capitalized because for me it is interchangeable with GOD. It is with this Love,  He came to be with us. This is my deepest knowing as a follower of the teachings of Yeshua, Jesus. When asked, he spoke of only two commandments, both equal. Love thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength and Love thy neighbor [with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength, my understanding and imperfect practice. ] as thyself.. Mark 22:37

 To me God is LOVE and LOVE is God, so I will be asking also "What has God have to do with it?"

This question has been with me since my first clear memory at the age of five. I was standing, hidden away from view by any family member, standing up against the huge picture window facing the front lawn. The floor-length floral curtains and large maroon tufted couch hid me from anyone even knowing I was in the room. I could see the whole world out there, neighbors walking and cars driving past my house. We lived in one of the newly built "suburbs" of the fifties, just commuting distance from Portland, Oregon. An old farmstead purchased outside a small town called Milwaukie, with an "ie," I used to always say as a kid and even an adult.

I still remember what I was feeling that day, with all my strength, as a child in pain, asking from my mind, "It is not supposed to be this way", from my heart, "Why don't they love me?" and my soul, " I feel so alone?"

Was I being heard that moment, in that room, on that day? It was perhaps my first prayer. Did I know even then as a child someone was listening?

  This is when, I know now, my journey and path began to open up to me. It was not going to be one I would have tolerated or allowed for a child and will eventually influence me to consider later to not raise children myself. The greatest sacrifice of my life came from the fear I was too much like my parents. I did not learn from them how to feel connected and cared for. I learned about drinking, screaming, hitting, crying, hiding, hunger, loneliness, shame, blame, beatings, and worst of all neglect.

What has GOD got to do with that?

This leads to my next post, Born into LOVE, and forgiveness for me and my parents.

John 4:16

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Rest In LOVE

  love.... is all that matters

My dear friend Molly Walton drew her last breath on December 14, 2019. A long-awaited day after her diagnosis in early 2013 of terminal breast cancer. Ours was a roller coaster of a ride relationship with her hoarding lifestyle and my restless nomadic search for a home to settle down. Molly lost contact and the affection of a teenage daughter in divorce many years before and this trauma led to an empty heart and home. She proceeded to fill every square inch of it for the following years with all she touched and collected. The empty house, like her heart, was being filled up and each item cherished. My story was the loss of my home of 15 years in Vermont in the housing crisis of 2009.  Ten years and seven moves later, with two homeless periods, while waiting for housing to open up , I was always in transition.

   She gave her love to me with time during phone calls, any hour and place. She gave me a sense of continuity....of being loved by someone no matter where I lived....a wonderful gift. I absorbed any items I could of her "collectibles" to give her some peace around the slow liquidation process being imposed by her family. Most items I would not be able to use but would pass on and even throw away. One of my moves took me to another state and I would come to visit and need to stay overnight. I was the only person I knew of that Molly let stay at her place or would want to. She would clear a place for me to walk, to an area of boxes covering a stool,so I could sit down. Then a chair and ottoman were uncovered, so I could make a bed for the night in the living room. It was filled halfway to the ceiling at times with boxes she was going through.  As an artist, I kept encouraging her to make art with me. She kept dreaming of art projects she wanted to finish. In all the years I knew her, we spent only two hours painting together.

Cancer for Molly was a blessing. I know, how can this be? Blessings are love in action. It brought her daughter back into her life. Molly became full of courage, of heart, to contact her and bring the news and reach out.. to love again. Time was short now. In the seven years that followed two grandchildren were born.  First a daughter, next to a son. As the daughter turned five she was identical to Molly at the same age. Molly's life was fulfilled as it should be. Seeing herself live on in the image of a beautiful granddaughter.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Mathew 5:4

 My last visit with her was in the home caring for her in her last days. I was in turmoil over the failure on my part to have a residence for her to come to in these last two weeks. This had been our plan. I had recently lost a house that was suitable and moved to a small apartment in another town. As a trained hospice caregiver I wanted to "walk her home". When I arrived after a four-hour drive, she was conscious but not aware it was me in the room. I was broken-hearted by the lack of care she was receiving. The room was cold, windows open, Furniture pushed up to her bed so she would not fall out. I could only reach her feet and sit in the doorway I prayed for us both to be at peace and asked that Jesus take her hand and walk her home for me. Then the only way I can explain or express it is a feeling of peace and then LOVE filled the room. The next thing that happened was my photo, Molly kept on the window sill flew across the room towards her bed. There was only what Molly and I were to each other. A blessing.