Backstory

9 thoughts on “Backstory”

  1. A lady told me the other day “everyone has a sacred story, that’s why I ask everyone to tell theirs.” It’s true, we do. As painful, confusing, with a mix of good moments, they may be, we need to hear each other’s stories.
    This is powerful, well written, and pushes on points that hit close to home for me. Thank you for sharing dear friend.

    1. Thank you, dear Sarah. I have always suspected we have similar childhoods. I am SO happy yours has had such a fairy tale ending. Love you.

  2. i would love to hear your mother’s story re how she happened to encounter heroin. do you know much about it? i had a boyfriend who was an ex-heroin addict, a then methadone addict. his backstory was interesting. i wanted to know everything about his unsavory past. am drawn to people with troubles.

    my maternal grandfather delivered milk in chicago. he had a gambling problem with the horses. the story is that one day he decided to take the customers’ milk money to the track and lost it all. unable to replace it, he lost his job. my grandmother became fed up and left for california, taking the three children with her. a few weeks passed and grandpa begged to join her and the children. she agreed..but there were conditions. no more gambling whatsoever. when i became aware of him, he had become a welder in the city of industry (the name of that city still makes me chuckle). as far as i knew, he never went anywhere except work and home.

    my grandmother went to santa anita race track, occasionally, and would take me with her. i loved watching the horses…they seemed magical. apparently, she did NOT have a gambling problem. however…she did have a problem with the See’s candy store. when she stopped there for a bag of her favorites, my mother told me grandma would tell her youngest daughter… “don’t tell your father”.

    addiction is interesting. with what i have studied, it is all linked to the “addiction gene”. you either have it, or you don’t. if you have stopped things cold turkey with no cravings, it is likely you don’t have it. i have stopped smoking and alcohol…both by the cold turkey method with no cravings. ice cream….well…that is another story entirely.

    i love reading your writing, linda. it brings up many memories of my own…the good ones more often than not…which is very very good. ❤

    1. Christy, I do know a lot of what drove my mom–not necessarily all of the inner demons, but much of the external story. That story is coming. I decided to tell these family stories openly and honestly because we have such assumptions of people based on superficial things. So often we have no idea of what is going on within families. We might learn to be a little kinder to one another if we understood that human frailty is a universal story. I love the people whose stories I am telling. They were deeply flawed people who still had hopes and dreams and who often rose above their circumstance–even though they still battled demons. They did the best they knew how to do at the time. I think we all know people like that. I think we are EACH like that. Joy, loss, sadness, anger, fear, bitterness, hope, faith, love–it’s universal, isn’t it?

      1. i hear this statement so often..”they did the best they knew how to do at the time”, and my reaction is “wait…what?” i usually give everyone the benefit of the doubt…but what about parents who…put cigarettes out on toddlers’ skins…beat toddlers with switches leaving welts, bruises, blood, broken bones…use name calling and belittling and vilifying their tiny children…and on a larger scale…actually kill their children or out and out despise them. one cannot just lump all those people in the “evil” category. narcissistic people possess no empathy. they consider only their own needs. if everyone “did the best they could”, CPS would never have the need to remove children from their homes. looking back, if i had been removed from my home as a child, there would have been a chance i would not be permanently disabled with PTSD today. at the same time, i was worried that i would be sent to a family who kept me in a locked closet, raped me often, and used me as a scullery maid. believe it or no, there were children who suffered this fate. as far as love….no one in my family knew the meaning…i never saw an instance of it..except perhaps each to their dog only. i don’t mean to rain on the parade…i’m just giving a slice of life others and myself have lived. i’m glad you experienced love…

      2. Christy, I have experienced plenty of the other and I am writing about it ALL in the weeks to come. But short of a completely evil person, this I know: generally, humans learn by example. If they’ve experienced little kindness, affection or love, they come out damaged. I’ve always said that I can’t undo the harm that was done to me, EXCEPT by not passing on the legacy of insanity when I became a mother.

        I can’t fully explain why I survived the things I survived in my childhood and kept an open and loving heart. I have had a handful of mentors who offered life preservers when I was drowning (or contemplating ending it all). But mostly, I understood–at a very young age–that holding on to rage and bitterness would only eat at my soul. I witnessed this first-hand in my mother. Saying, “I’m sorry,” or forgiving those that had broken her as a child, was simply not in her nature. She didn’t have the maturity to move past any of it, so she raged and drank and made my sister’s and my world precarious throughout many years.

        When Kate was going through the terrible three’s (she was a peach at two), I realized that my mother’s outbursts were just like Katie’s–she was stuck in toddlerhood. She didn’t have the emotional landscape of an adult–I often think that is what has happened to most narcissists, because toddlers are very self-centered human beings. My husband was basically stuck in toddlerhood as well (we marry what we know, right?). I started reading John Bradshaw (and doing all the emotional work) when Kate was a baby so I could try to stay ahead of her emotionally. At first, we were almost the same emotional age, but I am a quick-study and I accelerated and was saved by the work. Through wanting to mother her DIFFERENTLY, I had to shine a light in a lot of dark recesses.

        A few years before Mom died, I found out that the woman she had been “boarded out” to in her childhood–for SEVEN years–never once hugged or kissed my mom. Seven years without the affection of a parent or caretaker–unfathomable to me. She did better than HER mother by being affectionate and more, but she had no one to model good mothering so she failed in a million ways (in BIG TERRIFYING ways). I suspect there were no mentors who saw her brightness as a child and encouraged her to shine.

        Too often children know nothing about the family secrets and what makes their parents tick. I have decided that keeping the secrets just keeps us in the dark about the whys and wherefores of family dynamics. I don’t EXCUSE anyone their bad actions, but I have learned to UNDERSTAND that healing the wounds of childhood are not easy–and not for the faint of heart. I wear my heart on my sleeve, but have a steel core that has gotten me through things that would have ended someone else. My mother didn’t want to understand her past–perhaps it was just too devastating to go back there. What I do know is, as much as Mom hated her mother for what SHE had done to my mom, she also loved her for the things she had done right. THAT was the good example she gave me.

        I have been writing several family stories concurrently and am not sure of the order as to when I am going to post what, but you will learn that I understand too well the dark underbelly of parents. I have also learned to forgive because I’ve come to understand THEIR brokenness–as well as understand their time (societally, things change and what is “acceptable” parenting changes). Kate always says that I’m “divine” because I am so forgiving. I have just seen so much of human nature, that I know we are each infinitely complex–full of goodness and madness. It’s a pretty delicate balance–and any one of us can fall apart–or surrender to madness–in an instant. ♥️

  3. Christy, I have experienced plenty of the other and I am writing about it ALL in the weeks to come. But short of a completely evil person, this I know: generally, humans learn by example. If they’ve experienced little kindness, affection or love, they come out damaged. I’ve always said that I can’t undo the harm that was done to me, EXCEPT by not passing on the legacy of insanity when I became a mother.

    I can’t fully explain why I survived the things I survived in my childhood and kept an open and loving heart. I have had a handful of mentors who offered life preservers when I was drowning (or contemplating ending it all). But mostly, I understood–at a very young age–that holding on to rage and bitterness would only eat at my soul. I witnessed this first-hand in my mother. Saying, “I’m sorry,” or forgiving those that had broken her as a child, was simply not in her nature. She didn’t have the maturity to move past any of it, so she raged and drank and made my sister’s and my world precarious throughout many years.

    When Kate was going through the terrible three’s (she was a peach at two), I realized that my mother’s outbursts were just like Katie’s–she was stuck in toddlerhood. She didn’t have the emotional landscape of an adult–I often think that is what has happened to most narcissists, because toddlers are very self-centered human beings. My husband was basically stuck in toddlerhood as well (we marry what we know, right?). I started reading John Bradshaw (and doing all the emotional work) when Kate was a baby so I could try to stay ahead of her emotionally. At first, we were almost the same emotional age, but I am a quick-study and I accelerated and was saved by the work. Through wanting to mother her DIFFERENTLY, I had to shine a light in a lot of dark recesses.

    A few years before Mom died, I found out that the woman she had been “boarded out” to in her childhood–for SEVEN years–never once hugged or kissed my mom. Seven years without the affection of a parent or caretaker–unfathomable to me. She did better than HER mother by being affectionate and more, but she had no one to model good mothering so she failed in a million ways (in BIG TERRIFYING ways). I suspect there were no mentors who saw her brightness as a child and encouraged her to shine.

    Too often children know nothing about the family secrets and what makes their parents tick. I have decided that keeping the secrets just keeps us in the dark about the whys and wherefores of family dynamics. I don’t EXCUSE anyone their bad actions, but I have learned to UNDERSTAND that healing the wounds of childhood are not easy–and not for the faint of heart. I wear my heart on my sleeve, but have a steel core that has gotten me through things that would have ended someone else. My mother didn’t want to understand her past–perhaps it was just too devastating to go back there. What I do know is, as much as Mom hated her mother for what SHE had done to my mom, she also loved her for the things she had done right. THAT was the good example she gave me.

    I have been writing several family stories concurrently and am not sure of the order as to when I am going to post what, but you will learn that I understand too well the dark underbelly of parents. I have also learned to forgive because I’ve come to understand THEIR brokenness–as well as understand their time (societally, things change and what is “acceptable” parenting changes). Kate always says that I’m “divine” because I am so forgiving. I have just seen so much of human nature, that I know we are each infinitely complex–full of goodness and madness. It’s a pretty delicate balance–and any one of us can fall apart–or surrender to madness–in an instant. ♥️

    1. Ah, Fran: Kate says I have built-in GPS whenever we are driving–I think it stems from me always having some sense of true north–and that has kept me heading toward the light and away from the darkness..

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