Over the past two years of blogging on three different sites I worked up a few chapters into a memoir. According to persons more experienced, I should blog my book, as a memoir. According to other writers, instructors, editors (as well as my personal not-yet-for-profit Copy Editor) I’m working my writing: I have “voice”.
For decades it has made me feel uncomfortable to go public with what I want to say. Yesterday I read in an article on writing that when we finally set ourselves to do something, we either keep it secret or we never stop talking and doing that something. I’m ready to blab.
I shook down the content of my past and finally got a feel for how it brought me to the life I am in, the one I believed in, and eventually created. I like my journey. I am happy with me remaining a works in progress, hopefully to my last breath.
As a child I annoyed my mother by saying “I just can’t wait!” and her weary reply was “You are just wishing your life away, Miss Priss.”
As I move on down the line of life, gaining new “retrospectives”, then this is indeed the larger, juiciest part, I think. It’s about gaining new perspectives; releasing others.
My early years, were fairly ghastly until the day I threw my mother across the room. I was sixteen and I don’t remember what set her off, other than something to do with my sassy mouth, and for the last time she laid her hands on me.
Mom broke a thick wooden coat hanger over my head, and with blood spurting from my scalp I lifted her up by the elbows and sent her flying across the room. We had our “special bonding moment” with my stunned mother sprawled in the armchair staring at the blood streaming down my face. Did she tend to my wound? Probably. Mom always showed a remarkably generous and tender side when nursing Bill, me, neighbors or friends when we were down with a flu or other condition. She had a wonderful way with her hands. Her touch was gentle, warm and healing.
Mom finally respected me and we became friends, and once we became friends, a playful little bratty part of me appeared, one that others have commented on and seem to enjoy: I began to sneak up behind my mother when she was least expecting and gave her a big hug. Her body always stiffened, like I was hugging a telephone pole.
I hoped against hope to feel relaxation in her body, some warmth, some pleasure. It never happened. So I just kissed her on the cheek and “let her go”. As soon as I broke touch with her she giggled and blushed like a delighted two year old.
So I ask, dear reader, dear copy editor, can that into a useful book? Can I format broken histories without making my readers think “Okay, we get it, Would-Be Author, we see you as a survivor, and we will believe you, molestations, hardship, violence and all! It makes a sorry sense that when your Mom found out about the pre-teen sexual abuse, she beat you not only with the belt, but perhaps more with her own feelings of failure.”
Well, I have never been hesitant to follow hunches and my hunch is telling me I have bits of information to share, methods to pass along regarding learning to live with the kind of wounds that won’t disappear. My wounds no longer obstruct my life, in fact they remain present and real as information now, neither good nor bad, but a permanent part of me, showing up only as just another memory.
When I started my Genealogical Safari I had no awareness of living family with the exception of an 87 year old half brother I’d met when I was about 23 and a couple of half-nephews my age. We send Christmas Cards every year without fail.
Minutes into my initial genealogical searching I “found family’ on both maternal and paternal sides’ right here in Northern California, a few of which were within hollerin’ distance. An hour later I discovered a Family Tree with my name in it.
That piece floored me. It was difficult to grasp that somebody knew we all existed: me, my brother, our parents. I wondered uneasily if my parents ever knew of them. The family tree took me immediately back to our first paternal Scot-Irish Immigrant, who arrived in Pennsylvania around 1720, Revolutionary Soldiers and all that.
During the first two years I unearthed stories of my parents lives, and their ancestors lives in census, newspaper articles and in obituaries. I learned how both Mom and Dad felt their parents deserted them, abandoned them.
It’s a fact that Dad, abandoned by his natural father, lived only occasionally with his natural mother; a sadder fact that Mom was sent to be reared by maternal grandparents around the age of thirteen months. And, she had an older brother I hadn’t known about who was sent to the paternal grandparents when he was just two.
Lost Children always find each other. The shame is that in their neediness they didn’t know what to do with or for each other. My parents had no way of passing nurturing love on down to little kids.
Sometimes I hear thuds and shouts in the middle of the night, see the flashing lights of a squad car. Their relationship was all about who wasn’t staying in the guidelines of the other partner’s idea of “What You Would Do if You Really Truly Loved Me!”
I’ve reared two children of my own, imperfectly, but always lovingly. I wish I could have raised my own dear, deceased, middle-aged-kid-parents.