I have spent the years since my MFA graduation restructuring my life, gaining strength of mind, finding joy, laughter, love, and meaningful work. I needed to be practical, and make sure I was on my way to building a retirement. It takes time to calm the distractions enough to focus on writing. I have missed my writer self immensely.
And so I begin…
A while ago, I discovered something. It was a discovery that hit me right in the middle of the stomach. Two emotions overwhelmed me: regret, and embarrassment. And with the force of those two emotions, a door to a new world blew opened. What was this discovery? What kind of power did this discovery have that gave me a complete paradigm shift in my life?
Let me try to explain it before I name it. Think of an object. Think of this object as beloved. This object is virtuous, fantastic, and fabulous. While holding this object, look at it from all sides. See its beauty, its goodness. Then, suddenly something changes. Now look at the object again. While you look at it, I will explain the result of this change: This object does awful things, this object causes great heartache, this object is to blame for all that goes wrong, this object is bad, stingy, horrific, and dreadful. Geesh. This object must be maligned, and destroyed!
How does this object go from virtuous to wicked? Where did such perceptions of that object come from in the first place? As a child, the adults in my life influenced my perceptions. The most dominant person in my childhood, as with many, was my mother. She controlled my environment. She convinced me that her perceptions were right, and valid. She wanted me to believe that these objects that were once one hundred percent good were now one hundred percent bad. The poor woman had some major psychological issues that she had no idea she possessed.
This is how I grew up. My childhood was defined by the needs of someone who manifested the mental structure of a borderline personality disorder. The pattern was like this: A person would enter into our lives. This person would be all wonderful, all loving, all kinds of fun, until something would change. And that change was when my mother would declare that this person was now all bad. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the numbers of people who did awful things, caused great heartache, and were to blame for all that went wrong. The many good people who became so bad that they had to abruptly disappear from our lives forever baffled me.
It turns out that I do not have Borderline Personality Disorder; thus, there was always a part of me that had extreme difficulties with this “splitting behavior.” In that environment, I was not the norm. I was abnormal. I thought there was something wrong with me. Most of the time, the leaving of the all-good to all-bad person was dramatic. And I was always full of questions that were never answered. Thus, I had two things to do in my life’s journey. One was to find the answers, and the other was what to do with the answers once I had them.
What would cause my mother to declare that someone who was all good was now all bad? How could that happen so many times? Why did she have a circle around her who would fiercely defend, and believe her? I have insight because I was once in that circle. As a child, what choice did I have? Who could I turn to for different perspectives? If I caught a glimmer of a different perspective, I had to be brought back under her influence. As a result, under her influence, the perception of my reality was constantly being re-spun. She could keep me by her side that way. I would never leave her. That was her intention. As part of the characteristics of this disorder, abandonment was her all-consuming fear.
It wasn’t until I finally got myself in a somewhat stable adult relationship that I was able to hear the words other people said to me. Some of these strange words were: “That isn’t normal.” “Nothing is ever black or white.” “Tell me what you think about this-use your thoughts, your words based on your experience with this person.” Oh. I was schooled by people who genuinely cared for themselves, and for me, who could think outside of their own damaged selves, and valued consistent, and healthy relationships. The door blew open, my soul opened up, and wow, it was one deprived place.
I was on my way to a complete paradigm shift. I had to restructure my whole life, restructure my entire perceptions, and beliefs. I had to learn that nothing in life was black or white. This journey was and is a process. And, for me, the beginning of this shift was dramatic, and seemingly something I couldn’t survive. But, survive I did. And that is my story. The one I can return to writing now that I have had some distance from the beginning of this journey. And now that I have found a way to sustain myself through my own financial independence, and my own healthy relationships, I can use my voice. And I will use it without fear of my mother’s retaliation. Well, there is some fear there, as will become evident and validated…