It does me no good to be embarrassed, humiliated or ashamed of the young 20 year old woman I was when I wrote these letters that my mother saved among her papers all these years.  They show me how powerfully effective dissociation is to survival.  I simply found a way to invent a ‘self’ and a life using whatever spare parts of a mind-self I found lying around once I left my home of origin.

As I comment at the end of the second letter, the left brain has amazing abilities to fabricate realities that, if never challenged by the right brain, the body memory brain, the higher cortex or a clear, strong and healthy self, simply appear to be THE reality of a person’s life.  I could not see that everything I had ever known about my life was a sham — and a shame.

I had created an entire semblance of some kind of life already by the time I was 20.  I had left home, entered the Navy (from Alaska) , gone through training (Baltimore and San Diego), gotten pregnant, out of the Navy (Rhode Island and back to San Diego) , endured a pregnancy, a terrible and traumatic delivery that nearly killed me, and the first 6 months of my daughter’s life alone, moved to San Francisco, married the father in Honolulu, moved to Sacramento and then to Ohio, spent time with my husband, done drugs, quit doing drugs, separated from my husband and was about to move to Fargo, North Dakota — all in two-and-a-half years.  I had a dissociated life — but by golly, the body that I was living in had survived all of it and kept on going.  My poor self?  Lost.  My poor mind?  Doing the best it could do to make sense of any of it.

I would say, “Don’t bother reading these letters,” but “Who am I to say?”


*Age 20 – My March 7, 1972 letter to my parents

*Age 20 – My May 1, 1972 letter to my mother


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