+URGING INFORMED COMPASSION FOR OUR ABUSERS – AND LINK TO MY BABY BOOK

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There.  I did it.  I scanned my baby book, and now knowing that task needed to be done will not be keeping sleep away from me tonight.  But ahead of the link to it that I will post below I want to say something extremely important.

I have mentioned JV here on this blog before.  She knew my mother for 45 years and now in her mid 80s this life long Alaskan is giving information in telephone interviews about what her experiences were with Mildred over all those years.  Today I called JV to check in with her about the four volumes of my mother’s writings in ‘Hope for a Mountain’.  The first two volumes have been printed by an also mid 80s homesteading neighbor named Dorothy, who DID NOT end up wanting to read them.  She sent them on to JV.

How ‘up close and personal’ does any severe infant-child abuse survivor feel they want to be with their abuser?  Personally, my entire process of healing now involves getting as close as I can to understanding my mother.  I want to share something here that is part of the interview information Joann gave me today.  In fact, as soon as she picked up her phone and found out it was me calling, this is what she told me:

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“Did you hear about how your mother died?  At the end of Mildred’s life she was living in a miserable, miserable place off of Cordova in Anchorage in one unpleasant room with a bed, a curtain over the window, a little shelving and cabinets to put stuff in, I think a chair, with a shared bathroom and kitchen – cheap room.

I am remembering why I had gone in there.  She wanted something.  I had seen her a month before and had agreed to meet her to go someplace to eat.  She needed to go to the store, and when I got there she was on the floor and couldn’t get up.  I called 911 that time but when they got there they said they could not take her as long as she was coherent and clean even if she couldn’t get up.

So I had seen her on the floor before, and I helped her up and went and got her some stuff.  I went back the day after to check on her and she wasn’t there.  I asked others who lived there where she was and they said she had knocked on her door and asked for someone to help her get up.  When they opened the door and found her another boarder called the paramedics who took her.  Her room was a mess.  She had been using newspaper for toilet paper and there were feces all over.

She had a strangulated bowel so that feces was backing out of her mouth.  I went over to the hospital and found her in one of the emergency room’s cubicles.  She would not agree to surgery.  She WOULD NOT let the hospital call her sons and had kept telling the hospital personnel that Joann would be there to see her.  She was glad to see me.  I left the cubicle and called your brothers anyway and the boys came right over.  They were very kind.  They asked me if I would back them for institutionalizing your mother after surgery and I said yes.

With her boys there she agreed to surgery, but she died under the prep.  The anesthesiologist was devastated.  He had never lost anyone before, but Mildred had so abused her body for so long it was not his fault, and I told him so.  The boys went to collect her stuff.

I have no idea where Mildred’s money went.”  [Bill’s retirement gave her $3000 per month to live on.]  I just had my mother’s death date confirmed.  She did not die in 2002, but rather died January 27, 2003.

from an August 7, 2010 telephone interview with Joann Vanover

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So here in this post I am including information about the beginning of my life of 18 years of suffering at the hands of my mentally ill, disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disordered mother — at the same time I tell you of my mother’s ending.

What matters to me is that nowhere within me, not in the tiniest molecular corner of a single cell in my body, not in any corner of my heart or mind that I know of, did I hear this first detailed description of the end of Mildred’s life in January 2003 and feel, “The monster got what she deserved.”

She did not.  Her life, her mothering, her death was a horrific tragedy.  No human being deserves the life she had.  No, no child deserves to be unwanted, unloved, neglected, abused, mistreated or traumatized — but that not only includes ME, it included my mother.

NOTE:  My mother’s twisted intestines, an extremely painful condition, would have been corrected through a surgical procedure had Mildred sought medical attention when the problem originated.  My mother’s words to the medical staff attending her in the emergency room were, “I just want to be left alone,” repeated over and over again.  Those are the same words she had told the other boarders who had called 911 for her against her wishes, but she was too weak  to get her way.

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*SCAN OF MY ‘NONEXISTENT’ BABY BOOK

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7 thoughts on “+URGING INFORMED COMPASSION FOR OUR ABUSERS – AND LINK TO MY BABY BOOK

  1. It’a a miracle that you were able to raise your kids the way you did considering the severe abuse you suffered in childhood. I do not know the statistics but I’ll bet it is not too common as we tend to recycle the trauma.

    Glad you had a nice time with your little grandson. By the way, you were a very beautiful baby/child yourself.

    • I think being with my grandson before I ‘studied’ my baby book helped make the baby-I-was more real to me somehow!

      And, the current statistic is around 35% of child abuse survivors go on to abuse, while 65% do not.

  2. What a tragic and sad ending to a tumultuous life. It is good to know that your mother was able to see her 2 boys at the end. I’m sure this gave her some kind of comfort.

    I agree with your friend. Your baby book looks like the beginning of what might be a good life for a beloved daughter–so strange. I often wondered if your mother might have spared you from abuse in the beginning–maybe the 1rst year or 2. You looked happy and she looks happy holding you. I hope this to be true but I know that your mothers writings had nothing to do with the actual reality of her life or yours!

    • Now that I understand more about the patterns, I know that the charming Kodak moments were a part of dissociated realities – and greatly contributed in the early developmental stages of my brain’s growth to the dissociation I struggle with now — and the dissociation that did in fact ‘save me’ during the abuse.

      I am going to post the interview I did with Joe Anne on Saturday. Within her few words is a universe of truth — and some relates to your comment!

      And yes, considering how ‘charming’ our family LOOKED from the outside, and could ACT, it perhaps made it more difficult for the abuse and her madness to be spotted. I think in my writings to ‘the public’ it is important to make this point, that infant-child abuse doesn’t ‘just’ happen in poverty, or in uneducated families, etc. In fact, it might be most likely in the PICTURE PERFECT families like mine pretended to be!

    • The beginnings of language for a ‘spared from abuse’ baby would not have been, “I didn’t mean to.” The fact that Mildred blithely recorded this statement in her descriptions means to me that her mask had not yet ‘learned’ to filter — which undoubtedly led to the pages that were torn from the book — and somehow was connected to her eventual banishing of the baby book.

      When it comes to the question of why my mother did not destroy the book (or all my pictures as a commenter mentions today elsewhere on the blog), I think it was my mother’s inability to differentiate any of her children from herself, including HER as she was projected onto ME, meant that her ‘narcissism’ was the reason — and her no-boundary inner believe that her children WERE Mildred.

      • Please forgive my disjointed replies to your comment this morning. My brain is running very fast. Every thought I have, every word I hear and write that is a part of this work I am doing toward my next two books, is changing me. That is what I want to happen. That is what I believe has to happen for these books to be written at all. But in the meantime I can whiz right on by what are important realizations to me, and if I do not write them down they will disappear behind me in the dust as I rush forward into my next and newest realizations. At this point I cannot assess the ‘truth’, ‘value’ or significance of any of these thoughts. Yet at the same time I know they are all building themselves into me as I change and as these books are written. All that said, this is my thought:

        Someone asked me last week after my daughter and my first grandchild returned home from their visit to me, “How did it feel meeting your grandson? How did it feel to hold him? How did it feel to know this little person is a part of you?”

        On a very deep level I was stunned by the last question. More than stunned. It brought forth within me something that I couldn’t first identify, though it is becoming more clear to me as I write these replies what matters most to me deep, deep within myself. It is a matter, for me, of perspective and inner ‘stance’. And I believe it is directly connected to what I just said about the reasons I believe my mother did not destroy my baby book or my childhood photographs.

        I have fought my way into existence as a person separate from my mother. My mother never in her lifetime made the distinction that (1) her children were NOT her, and (2) that her children were NOT a part of her.

        I can’t imagine any situation possible similar to mine where the contrast could possibly be made visible more clearly. For the first 18 years of my life, all of them critical to my body-brain-mind-self’s development, I was NOT a human being. I was NOT a person at all, and certainly not a person in my own right — or a person separate from my mother’s overwhelming, pervasive, destructive, inclusive POSSESSION of me as being the projected badness and evil that was HERS (not mine and not ME).

        Somehow I make this clear and adamant distinction: Just as I was in no way ‘my mother’ or my mother’s projection of herself onto-into me, I was not a ‘part of my mother’. I am my own self. My grandson is his own self. It is because on some unimaginably deep inner profound level that I MUST have know this, but never knew consciously, that I could parent my own children well — and without abuse. I consider seeing one’s children as being ‘a part of’ or an ‘extension of’ or a ‘projection of’ a parent as being extremely harmful if not outright abusive.

        I KNEW my children were separate individual people — absolutely and completely. I therefore ALSO knew that it was my job as a parent to raise them to BE their own self, to KNOW their own self, to LOVE and LIKE their own self, and to be the BEST own self they could possibly be. Every interaction I ever had with my children happened within this framework. My three grown children tell me I succeeded.

        I cannot possibly shift myself NOW to feel any different about my grandson. He is NOT a part of me. He is NOT an extension of me. The love I have for him is exactly that: LOVE FOR HIM! In addition, after spending a lot of time thinking about my response to this question I mentioned above, I have concluded that this love I have for my infant grandson is no different than the love I would feel for ANY little baby.

        My daughter shared with me something last night about her paternal grandmother when she was in the last week of her life. As this amazing and wonderful woman lay in her hospital bed, dying of a terrible cancer, in and out of consciousness, someone asked her if she wanted anything and if they could bring her something. She answered, “Yes. Please. Someone please bring me a baby. I want to hold a baby.”

        • AND – I could not make the kind of progress I need to make in my own healing from being the projected evil of my mother if I did not at the same time equally know that just as I am not ‘a part of her’ I am not ‘a part of’ my children — just as they are not ‘a part’ of me. I could not have it any other way.

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