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."

4 comments:

Billy said...

IMO excellent insight into the two main people of this book. (I hesitate to use the word "characters" because years ago, my dad always called me a character, having an OK but completely different meaning than when applied to a book).

Over all that you have written and that we know about from our lives in the Way, it is easy to see how deep seated is the habit of blaming yourself; lots of us have the same problem to varying degrees. By deep seated I mean, though you have been very aware if it for a long time, and even if you know it is not a good habit, it is impossible to just get rid of it like that. Even as you are telling someone that you know something is not your fault, you can't shake the feeling that maybe it is. As you described to us in your second "Walkaway" post.nochnoot

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that. I too had standoffish feeling for my mom,but especially in The Way,when she had a heart attack when I was a Wow in Idaho I was preparing to leave when people told me it might just be a trap!

So I called,home she answered the phone (she was NOT)in the hospital(anymore)so I stayed on the field.
How I wish I had gone home then, Only almost 2 years in The Way had shut my mind and emotions down toward my family,but in the back of my mind I knew all I need do is pick up the phone and call collect and they would be there if I wanted to leave.

I still apologize when I do see her now that she is 76 and I realize what a fool I had been,and the hurt I caused.

I was raised Catholic and just wanted too know about the bible ,PFAL seemed perfect for that.
Then I started reading Ancient Babylon Mystery Religon and grew further and further away from
my family.

Years later YEARS------------I embraced my heritage and have made minor adjustments .

I now have a Cross in my home(and that took like 15 years to put up after leaving TWI)
Last year I got a tatoo on my ankle, of a Red Cross with a Purple Heart in the Center,I look
at it as both Spiritual and Medical Cross as I was once a Nurse too,and the Purple Heart
speaks for itself.

Oneperson said...

"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."

Wow. What a beacon of light ~ "simply stating the facts." Once the spiritual trappings are unbuckled, the drapes pulled aside, what liberation to see life and people and situations as they appear without all the muddled spiritual analytics.

I'm still working on that, mainly with how I view myself. It's hard damn work, at least for me.

Keep up the awesome entries Kristen.

Do you know (or are you at liberty to share) when the book will be published?

To life...
~carol

Billy said...

What I posted above about self blame being a deep seeded (seated?) effect of abuse, along with other effects being hard to shake, is what I hope will bring the appeal of Kristen's writing to others outside the TWI/exTWI world who have been abused, know someone who has, or otherwise want to help victims. I am of course not an abuse expert, but I have read enough accounts lately that are not TWI related to see the recurring theme of a long and difficult struggle from abuse, and the inability to totally shake the effects even for someone like Kristen who, thankfully, has made such a wonderful recovery. I am sure that Kristen is in touch with people who know what they are doing on the publicizing aspect, and I hope they get results.