+IN MY GRANDMOTHER’S circa 1930 WORDS – Hard times in my mother’s age 4 and 5 year old life

093009 post on my Grandmother Cahill’s 1930 autobiographical piece about the death of her father and the ‘queer’ behavior of her husband — (my mother’s grandfather and father).


If I were about to launch into spoken speech right at this moment, I would start by saying, “I am speechless.”  Because I am going to write these words, I can pause in my silence and my writing will continue across this page.

I just copied the types words that reached my hands today in my mailbox.  They were written by my mother’s mother 79 years ago.  They have taken a circuitous route to reach me, having once been in the hands of my sister when she read these words to me over the telephone two months ago.  Before she could mail me a copy of them, the papers that she read to me vanished – inexplicably and completely.

Weeks later she came across another copy of them that were stored within a small blue file box she did not even remember was in her possession.  Delighted, she made copies and here I have them with me today.  Over the span of their existence, they must have passed through my mother’s brother’s hands, my mother’s cousin’s hands, and my mother’s children’s hands.  I do not know, however, if they ever passed through my mother’s hands.


I am thinking about what many

Native American cultures say about The Seven Generations.

Much of this

wisdom belongs to the Grandmothers.

Wisdom.  Wisdom shared down the generations.  Wisdom passed onto the future generations.  Living a life that considers the future seven generations that will follow me.  Thinking about how 150 years seems like a long time, but it is not.


My mother’s grandmother is dead.  My grandmother Cahill is dead.  My mother is dead.  Here I sit, age 58.  If my children had chosen to have children of their own at a young age, it is very possible that those grandchildren would be old enough at this moment to be having children of their own.

One hundred and fifty years doesn’t seem like a very long reach to me at this moment.  After all, my grandmother’s words in my hands right now came to me from a time point half that distance away from me.  I could easily have five generations even of my own family to consider from this chair I now sit in.

Yet what are we learning from one another?  What do we pass onto one another?  What word, what actions, what wisdom, WHAT?  There has to be something good passed down here, not just intergenerational unresolved traumas.


This link I am posting right now connects all who read my grandmother’s words to a time in her life, and therefore in the life of my 4 to 5 year old mother at that time, when times were hard, circumstances difficult, and emotions complex.

I have always suspected some things about my mother’s early life that are referred to in this piece of my grandmother’s writing.  Yes, there was a maid, a ‘nanny’ in my mother’s young life.  Yes there were emotionally difficult times that I think overloaded whatever capacity my young mother had to deal with them effectively.

There’s a lot I could say here, but I won’t.  I need to remain speechless.  I need to consider what it might be that my grandmother could teach today with her words.  I need to listen for the wisdom.  Is there anything about the story she elucidates in her words here that can somehow assist someone in the next Seven Generations?  What are her words really saying now, 79 years later?

Again, like with my mother’s childhood stories, her letters and even with the letters that are still here that were preserved in mine and my siblings’ childhood handwriting, isn’t it more than mere coincidence that all these papers have endured all these years with their messages inscribed and preserved – until such time they could be translated into digital ones and zeros, coded and sent out into the worldwideweb – to perhaps inform or assist someone else ‘out there’ with their own struggles?  (And there are more pages here I will be entering ASAP.)

I don’t know.  I am just doing my tiny part of the job.  Here’s the link for you —


*Grandmother Cahill’s circa 1930 Writing About Her Father and Husband




Please don’t miss my siblings’ comments about my father at the end of this page —

*Age 8 – Photograph – Me, Smokey and Snow


And included with comments at the end of this post —



I just watched my gold girl kitty, Goldilocks, sneak up on and capture a small lizard in my newest flower bed this morning.  Of course, she first nabbed its tail and if fell off in her mouth.  That’s OK.  Only in the most dire circumstances does a lizard have to sacrifice its tail, but when they do it is in an effort to survive the nearly unsurvivable.  Lizards are designed to grow a new tail — if they escape to a place of safety.

Of course Goldilocks was not about to let this poor little thing get away.  She tossed it into the air and followed it wherever it went.  Then the other two half grown kittens joined her.  Hunter, the boy, ended up with the lizard cornered on the sidewalk.  Once flipped onto its back it laid there — as if it was dead.

None of the three wanted to eat this prey, I’m sure there’s something about lizards that make them far more unpalatable than rodents are.  Yet as I watched Hunter watching this tailless lizard plopped onto its back with its silver belly to the sky, feet splayed out straight to its sides — I saw it miraculously flip itself over and try to get away again.

Of course Hunter would have pursued it as long as it had life left in its body to move.  So I chased away the kitten and picked the lizard up by its tiny little foot and tossed it into the massive azalea bush where I hope it can find its way to safety — and grow a new tail.

It made me think of my father, as my sister mentions in her comments perhaps nearly entirely invisible to us when we were children except for the few precious artifacts of his ‘truer’ self, his original self, his OTHER self that we were on occasion privileged to discover.


My mother always said that she came to Alaska because father wanted to.  She said it was a good thing because he loved the out-of-doors.  He loved the mountains, he loved to hike and fish.  Before we left Los Angeles he was a member of the Mountaineers’ Club that accomplished search and rescue for hikers in the mountains surrounding the city.  He disappeared on week-ends, perhaps to escape her, but she hated that.

Move to Alaska.  Homestead.  For father’s benefit?  For ours?  Or because her sick mixed up disturbed mind found for itself the perfect obsession?

All of our lives with my mother were grueling.  I wonder what happens to the spouses and partners of those with serious, unrecognized mental disorders.  The 12-step program of Al-anon for people with active addicts and alcoholics in their lives says that the people who live with the addicts become ‘as sick or sicker’ than the addict.  Isn’t this just as true for spouses of people like my mother was?

Did everyone in my family, my father included, end up like this tailless lizard unable to escape the pervasive effects of my mother’s disturbed psyche?  Were we all her prey?  Did my father pay the price of losing himself by staying with her for nearly 30 years?  Did he flip onto his back and play dead during her attacks on him?  If he was so ineffective in being able to preserve his own self with her, how aware and concerned could he have been about what was happening to his children — especially to me?


It is possible that given a less-than-optimal early developmental environment that a person’s self never develops ‘optimally’ in the first place.  Nor would a person’s connection to their ‘self’ develop optimally under malevolent early conditions, either.  Perhaps the human ‘optimal self’ is designed through the forces of evolution under harsh conditions to be as dispensable under severe trauma conditions as is a lizard’s tail.

Perhaps only when the forces of ongoing trauma are removed can the self and connection to it be reestablished — or even be established at all, such as in my situation.  My mother’s self did not develop properly in her early childhood, nor did her connection to her self.  There’s a very good chance that my father’s earliest developmental environment did not allow him the chance to develop his ‘best self’, either.  He was NOT a wanted child.  Putting these two wounded selves together was a recipe for disaster.  Need we be surprised that disaster was exactly what happened?



Just as a lizard has an ‘insecure attachment’ to its tail when its life is threatened, both of my parents came out of their early childhoods with insecure attachment disorders — primarily to their selves.  My father’s was an ‘organized’ insecure attachment disorder, the dismissive-avoidant one, I believe.  This allowed him to appear to function as a professional civil engineer and as a provider, even under incredible duress.

My mother’s was of the disorganized insecure attachment disorder variety, I believe of the worst kind — a disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder.  Her true level of functioning was just about zero!  If she could manipulate her ‘stage’ according to her fairy tale wishes, she could orchestrate floor-waxing, curtain-washing and cookie-baking like a pro.  Anything else?  She was a disoriented, disorganized mess.

It took my father’s super human efforts, every single time, to try to get her, and us, out of the incredible messes she made — except for the most important one.  He could not rescue any of us — not even himself.  We would all have needed outside intervention and assistance for that to happen — and it never did!



This is interesting!

The following website belongs to Dr. Leland M. Heller, author of the book, ‘Biological Unhappiness’.

Here’s one review of the book by Zig Ziglar:

“Open this book and it will open your mind.  By combining proven medical procedure with hope and inspiration, Dr. Heller has made a significant difference in thousands of patients who had little hope for recovery.  “Biological Unhappiness” contains critical information for those who have lost hope.”

Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker, author, See You at the Top, Over the Top, Success for Dummies, Raising Positive kids in a Negative World.

Check out this fascinating website!





*1959 July Birthday on homestead

*1959 – 1960 Serious winter – Dad smiling on tractor

— In my mind, the mountain and my father were one — I never expected either one to save me.  But never did I love him like I love that mountain place.


*1960 – May 7 – 4 of us all genuinely HAPPY! YAY!!!

*1959 June – Homesteader Sharon and the Hut

*1962 – Summer -Mother washing face after planting fields with dad


(Use your ‘back button’ on these or open them in new tabs or windows you can close after each picture-link view)


I hope one of my younger brothers might write the story of the fire that happened in my father’s apartment — with both his Alaskan sons sleeping there — that my family members — and these pictures survived.  It happened long after I left home.



1959 May - walking the mountain
1959 May - walking the mountain

May 1959 – Age 7 – That’s me with the round white thing!  On the edge of the road, dad’s so thin!  He looks like a refugee.


1958 family on the big rock above hut - dad found this spot when he first discovered the homestead site - damaged photo, but homepfully I'll come across a slide or negative -- I've always felt that my 7-year-old self is excluded in this picture -- I also can see my sadness in this one
1959 May - family on the big rock above hut - dad found this spot when he first discovered the homestead site - damaged photo, but hopefully I'll come across a slide or negative -- I've always felt that my 7-year-old self is excluded from being a part of the family in this picture (a reflection of how my life was) -- I also can see my sadness in this one, and still feel that when I look at this picture. How exquisitely beautiful this place was, and still is, though!


(Use your ‘back button’ on these or open them in new tabs or windows you can close after each picture-link view)


*1957 Christmas – Back Side of the Eagle River Log House

*Age 6 – Where Am I? Not In These Xmas Tree Photographs

*1959 April 1 – Dad and the Gray Jeep Truck

*1959 April – Buy, Move, Park the Gray Trailer

*1959 Spring – Dad On Road With Stuck Jeep

*1959 – April – Tractor Pulling Truck Loaded

with Jamesway Flooring Up ‘Horror Hill’

*1960 – Still Walking Up Road – With Tractor and Snow


Pictures are linked to my mother’s letters:





Comment today on *1962 November – The 5th Year Moose Hunt

“My belief is that my father was a sensitive man” You’ve got to be kidding? He allowed your mother to severely abuse you for 18 years! He lacks any kind of sensitivity at all.



Well, as I say, I have to work my way through this regarding my father.  Unfortunately, I’m not kidding — yet at the same time I simply cannot yet look into my own self and KNOW anything about him.  Denial?  I don’t know.  Do I continue to ‘parent’ him in my feeling that he was nearly as much abused by her as I was, except not physically?

I don’t understand the fuller context of my father’s life.  All I know is that I remain completely STUCK in regard to the reality of my father in my life.  I must need to BELIEVE that my father was a good man caught in a terrible, terrible situation he did not have the mental or emotional resources to cope with.  There was no social context for understanding mental illness or child abuse during the years of my childhood.

I was talking to my sister last night about — *AGE 7 – MUD PUDDLE INCIDENT https://stopthestorm.wordpress.com/the-devils-child-my-childhood/vignettes-from-my-abusive-childhood/age-7-mud-puddle-incident/ —-

Neither she nor I can YET understand what he could have done that night.  Stop the jeep and throw HER out?  Stop the jeep and throw himself out?  Throw me out?  Drive to the police shop?  They wouldn’t have cared?  If he had done anything else other than simply stare straight ahead and drive that jeep she would have turned that rage equally on him (except physically) and there would have been two equal hellfire rage attacks going on at the same time — instead of one.

Did he believe her actions toward me were justified?  Had she convinced him I was such a BAD child that I deserved everything I ‘got’?  Did he hate me?  Did he wish I’d never been born?  Did he agree with her actions every step down the road of my childhood?  Did he not care?

Or was he a good man caught in hell, in a situation he was helpless to understand or to cope with?  He never left us.  He never cheated on my mother.  He never raised a hand to her.  He seems to have done more than what was humanly possible in his efforts to meet her demands, to please her, to make her happy.  Nothing ever worked.  She was a seriously mentally ill woman.  Did he understand this?

What were the resources available to my father – both inner and outer?  Who was available to intervene from the outside?  Was I more a ‘burr under his saddle’ than a real live child – his child — who deserved a childhood that included protection and love?  THAT this was true I don’t seem to understand, either.  That’s what really matters to me.

Perhaps I share with him the inability to comprehend the reality of the situation.  Certainly my mother’s reality did not include loving Linda.  My identity was eroded and overwhelmed from the time I was born.  Did/do I love my father?  My mother, for that matter?  Is my love for them an issue?  What do I gain by not putting blame, responsibility, and culpability squarely onto the person that was my father?  Maybe, more importantly, what do I lose BY DOING so?

Can a person such as my father was actually be of two minds in the world?  Could he be one person toward me and a different person in relation to everything else in his life?  That’s the way it seems to me right now.  It seems that I can look at him and see the person he was regarding everyone and everything ELSE in his life – except me.

I don’t think I can just know either side of that man without looking at both.  Maybe he was really just like my mother was – like a doll with two completely different faces, one on either side of their head.  Well, that would make a hell of a conspiracy – and that might be exactly what I find.  Can a person legitimately be ‘BOTH’ – two or more different people in different situations?  Does either ‘side’ of them negate the other one?


But I won’t know if I don’t have the willingness and courage to look.  Readers are welcome to comment as I move through my process.  This is an inside job.  Others can tell me how they feel, what they see, what they know from the outside.  That will help me.  Meanwhile I choose not to feel ashamed – or even for that matter at all bullied – into believing about my father what might SEEM to be true.

Innocent until proven guilty?  What are the clues?  What is the evidence, all the evidence I can find?  This work IS forensic autobiography.  Am I solving a crime?  Is this a mystery?  It still is to ME!

Was my father such a victim of abuse from my mother that he and I shared a platform of victimization in the home of my origin?  Can I stop excusing, defending and feeling as if I want to protect my father?  Are my ‘issues’ with my father as much at the root of my ‘terrible sadnesses’ – and damage done to me — as are the ones I have with my mother?  Can I fundamentally know that my father hurt me?  Do I need to know this?  Why?

Maybe down the road of this investigation I will draw upon ‘technical’ mumbo-jumbo-jargon.  Right now I want to simply put together a collection about my father and my current in-process responses to what I find.


Right now I seem to have plenty of questions.  I need to let myself find and know answers.  This is a process.  The more specific and concrete readers’ comments are the better.  In the reality of the time frame I was raised in, of the social beliefs about the roles of fathers and mothers (including availability of information about parenting and mental illness), in the reality that law enforcement did not recognize either child or spousal abuse ‘back then’, what could and should my father have done differently?  Was he no different than a Nazi participating in the crimes of a Holocaust?

Given the facts as I best can lay them out – what were the alternatives?


Was I like that cow moose that stood before my father that day, who did not even try to escape as he took her life?

I could not escape when I was a child.  He did not help me even as he provided for his family.

Was my father as guilty as my mother was?




The following are the words that begin a new chapter in my healing journey.  Tonight I give myself permission  to get to know what I can about my father.  I have created a new heading page for him.


Under this tab I will begin to accumulate information about my father.  I will be brave enough to let my inner self guide me in my searching and re-searching.


Today, September 28, 2009 I feel I am finally ready to begin to face down my own feelings about my father.  I want to do this because I have NEVER made any progress toward finding my own truth about who and how my father was in my life — either when I was a child or when I was an adult — by continuing to ‘try’ to be angry with him.

My truth today is that there’s a mystery here.  I don’t KNOW my father.  He is talked about in my mother’s letters.  I even have access to letters that he wrote himself.  I have a right to explore and examine my father — as much a right as I have to do this in regard to my mother.

These pages will reflect my efforts to find my father.  I have nobody to answer to about him but myself.  I am granting myself permission to do my own explorations, find my own ‘evidence’,  search for my own understandings, come to my own conclusions — about my father.  Nobody stops me but myself.




Under picture mother wrote:  Smokey telling Linda “And I want Santa to bring me a bone.” — It strikes me that she could not even relate to ME as a individual CHILD in this picture — the dog had a more real identity than I did to her — I was a frozen cut-out of a child pasted into whatever scene I happened to find myself in at any point in time and space –


Follow link to the picture:

*Age 8 – Photograph – Me, Smokey and Snow


Looking for something interesting to think about?  Try this Google search:  opioid system attachment




I am passing on some more vital information on

Borderline Personality Disorder



About.com Borderline Personality Disorder

In the Spotlight More Topics

Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD

Some researchers think that emotion dysregulation– strong negative emotions and emotional reactivity– is the core feature of BPD. Why is it the core feature? Well, emotion dysregulation could drive other symptoms of BPD, including impulsive behavior and self-harm.

In the Spotlight
What is Emotion Dysregulation?
People with BPD experience a lot of dramatic shifts in their emotional states. They may feel okay one moment but feel extremely angry, sad, lonely, afraid, jealous, or shameful moments later.
More Topics
When Emotions Strike — Impulsive Behaviors in BPD
Are you someone who tends to take action without thinking through the consequences? Do hasty decisions often get you into trouble? Do you often act based on your feelings in the moment rather than on a long-term plan?
A Misguided Emotional Survival Strategy — Self-Harm
Self mutilation is very difficult to understand from the prospective of people who have never experienced the behavior themselves.