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