Monday, November 22, 2010

Hold the Presses!

I was talking with my son the other day about this process of posting Chapter One of my book on line and how it would be affecting his other family, my ex's. My intention here is not to stir up any hornet's nests and create bad feelings. I wanted to write my story to help other people not feel so alone in similar situations. I always think, if I had had a book like this when I was leaving The Way, how much simpler my journey would have been.

Manipulation, abuse, divorce, custody, mental illness. These are all very hard subjects. But many of us, I'd say all, who have had brushes with TWI are not unfamiliar with them. My goal in writing this book is not to hurt but to shed light on a dark and painful subject….which happens to be my life. There are others involved who were a part of that pain and I have included them in the story. It was unavoidable.

But it is important to note that these were things that took place over twenty years ago and much has healed in that time. It may fall apart again with the advent of this book but that's a risk I have decided to take. Besides, the book may never see the light of a publisher's day so this all may be a moot point anyway. But for the purposes of this posting, which is not an easy one, I just want to include the disclaimer that THINGS HAVE CHANGED!

Our kids are grown and thriving and my ex-husband and I have a workable relationship. I am no longer afraid of him and he is no longer abusive towards me. He has changed considerably, as have I. The follies we endure when we are younger, fortunately don't have to follow us into our older years. We have BOTH learned.

Victor Frankl was a Jewish German psychiatrist who survived a concentration camp in WWII. He wrote of his experiences in a book called MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING. He said that "What is to give light, must endure the burning."

I guess part of enduring the burning of putting my story "out there" is to know that a few people may not like it. And for those that read it, or see themselves in its pages, they too must endure the discomfort. But the fire burns the dross away as the truth sets us free. Another wise guy whom we all know said that one. I'm choosing to believe it and carry on.

Happy Thanksgiving…

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Trip to the Library - Another scene

This is a short interlude between longer scenes in Chapter One but I wanted to let it stand on its own. This was a pivotal point for me in starting to take back my mind from the cult. Thank God for libraries!

Soon after we arrive, I take the kids to the public library. When we return, Joshua runs into the house, almost slipping on the snow, arms full of books.

"Look, Nana," he says. "Trucks!"

Mom leans over and examines each title as Josh holds them up. She smiles and exclaims over his brilliant choices. It is hard to know who is more excited. When I was young, Mom would bring home presents from work, large colorful children's books newly released by her publishing house. I hoarded them like jewels, the cherished signs of my mother's love. They were proof that she thought of me when she was gone, that she thought of me at all. This nurtured a love of books that followed me into adulthood. Once in The Way however, my choices became limited only to Christian literature, focusing primarily on The Bible and the Doctor's writings. Mom's letters to me over the past fifteen years included impassioned lectures against the cult's censorship. Of course, I denied it. Now that I was home and free to read whatever I wanted, it seemed logical that one of my first stops would be to the local library.

"And what did you get?" She turns to me.

I show her the titles. She picks one out and flips through its pages.
The Battered Woman. I edited this book, worked with Lenore Walker on it. It was the first book ever published on the subject of wife abuse. I had to really fight and convince my bosses that there was a market for it. Now it's a classic."

"Yeah, well, I thought I should read up on it and figure out what's been happening to me."

Mom looks down then back up at me, her eyes clouded with concern. She lowers her voice. "I suspected that was the case."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chapter One continues...

A handful of turned-over onionskin pages sit on the table beside a bottle of White-Out and two half-used pencils, one red, one black. When I was young, I used to love to bite into her pristine pencils and chew them until they were riddled with tooth marks. Mom would scold me. "You always put everything into your mouth. Don’t I feed you enough?"

I stare at the papers before me. Mom told me she was working on a memoir. She didn't intend to publish it, she said. She just wanted to leave a record of her memories for her children and grandchildren. Curious, I pick up a page and read.

My mother's relatives regarded me as a strangely cold, unapproachable child. “She acts like a gentile,” they said, and blamed Dad for having chosen to live in a suburb where there were no other Jews.

In truth, I was not affectionate or demonstrative. From infancy, I disliked being touched. Even today, in my old age, I experience a moment's hesitation before I can kiss someone's cheek in greeting. I am much more comfortable being alone than in situations where I am expected to be sociable. The feeling of loneliness, no more frequent now than when I was younger, is seldom a yearning for a particular person who has gone out of my life. It is instead a familiar, throat-tightening ache for the person I wanted to be and never was.

I recognize instantly what she is saying. I'd experienced it since I was a small child. Whenever I reached to be picked up, Mom would hold me for a moment then put me down. When I went to kiss her, she would turn away, offering only her cheek. Her shoulders would stiffen if I tried to hug her. At a young age, I learned not to climb up on her lap the way other children did with their mothers. I knew she would only brush me off like a fly. I always thought she hated me.

This is a remarkable revelation. Here in her own words, she acknowledges her basic nature. She doesn't apologize. She's not ashamed. I'm ashamed of everything. I think everything is my fault. Even in The Way, I was always apologizing. Mom hates it when people say they're sorry all the time, like when she came out to rescue us last week and I kept saying I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. She finally told me to put a lid on it. She said she got the message the first time.

The Doctor once told me that Mom was possessed and not to trust her. He said the Prince of Darkness made her so confident. But I don't think I believe that anymore. Here she's simply stating the facts. She knows herself and her ruthless self-knowledge is liberating to me. It wasn't just me she didn't want to be close to. It was everybody. If she was possessed, then that's how she was born. And after bearing two children, I can't believe people are born with devil spirits.

I hear a noise and the light goes on in the kitchen. Mom stands near the sink and rubs her forehead. I quickly replace the page facedown on the table and stand up.

"Can't sleep?" she says.

"Did I wake you?"

"No, I couldn't sleep either. I usually wake up about this time anyway and fix myself some toast. Then I go back to bed. I heard the water running." She approaches the family room and glances at the vase of roses. "Oh, you found my book, I see."

"Yes, I hope you don't mind that I…"

"It's not all that great. Just something for me to do. Now that I'm retired, I have a lot of time."

"Well, you'll be busy now."

"Yes, I suppose I will. Now look who's here." Mom motions towards the doorway and there is Joshua, rubbing his eyes.

"Mommy," he says. "Thirsty."