PTSD: (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
An anxiety disorder associated with serious traumatic events and characterized by such symptoms as (but not limited to):
Reliving the trauma in dreams,
Numbness and lack of involvement with reality,
Recurrent mood-altering thoughts and/or images; or
the recurrent and persistent memories and recollections of a traumatic event or experience.
Given an anticipated “predisposition” of mental instability attached to my very existence, since birth (my mother was a severely unstable, drug-addicted, drunken Shawnee Native American who was also still, an untreated schizophrenic when she gave birth to me in 1979), I believe my father and clan of brothers expected a mental instability just as severe from me someday. I have somehow always harbored – what was for a long time: an unidentified – fear of growing up into a schizophrenic drunk, just like the estranged and elusive Mom from my childhood days.
During preadolescence, I used to pattern-dream (a Shawnee term used to describe the attachment of one’s sub-consciousness to another’s through dream scape – away from the waking world of reality as we know it) about my scary and unpredictable mother often:
I was always a baby again – literally a yearling – wearing a soggy diaper, behind the lovingly hand-crafted bars of a wooden crib – alone in an unfamiliar room; and I am crying my lil’ heart out for someone to open the door and come pick me up, to hear me. Nobody would come for what felt like days, maybe weeks – to me, to a youngster ‘s warped perception of time…until SHE opens the door and stands there in the shadow cast by the hallway ceiling bulb – its greyness seeming to wash out any color as it beams down around her like a canister of smoke; I begin to cry again – loudly and more boisterously as to be noticed by her, I’m unafraid of her presence in the dream; I see her as my “savior” in my current-day recollections of its detail, I want her to come in and pick me up – I want her to hold me and clean me up and spend time with me. I don’t want to be alone and crying in this room any longer and she is my ticket out of there. I start screaming her “Mama…Mama!”, and I swallow small gulps of my own snot and tears in the process, I’m so desperate to catch her attention. “Mommy!”…she turns to her left and leaves without a care in the world.
It was also during preadolescence, I should note, that my father decided to confide the truth behind the obvious strain in their relationship that went beyond the differences they blamed for their divorce: the fact that my mother had tried to “smother” me with my own pillow when I was an infant, still in a crib. Needless to say, this spun my world around a few times before throwing it off kilter for a few rounds, too; I was really caught off guard by this confession by my Dad, it explained so many countless mundane mysteries of my entire life – this horrible little secret of theirs. Who else knew? He said only “the older boys”, meaning my older “set” of brothers (typically referred to as “the Originals” in my writing), and my Papa (my Dad’s father) knew about the incident.
Um…okay, so you mean my Mom’s not only crazy as Hell, but she actually tried to “off” me when I was too little to defend myself?!…God damn, that was an eye opener for me at age eleven…it hurt deeply to learn, and never quite let life feel the same again after knowing this fact.
It wasn’t until I was at least sixteen, and still trying desperately in vain to keep my baby brother (who later committed suicide) from falling mentally apart as a result of the same kind of schizophrenia that afflicts my mother, that the question hit me like a ton of bricks:
Why in the Hell did my father get my mother pregnant and have yet – ANOTHER – child, with a woman who had been put in psychiatric detention and “treated” for the attempted smothering of the most recent child that she bore him?
Of course, my father had passed away by that time, as the story goes; and I never got the answer from HIS mouth on that lingering query of mine. I have come to harbor rather strong beliefs about the intrinsic “rights” of certain women to bear children; I do not believe it is fair for those who are historically mentally unstable to pro-create as freely as those who have not shown any repeated inconsistencies in sound thinking and behaviors. Such instances create humans like me, or my late, little brother – or, the older one in my set of full-blooded siblings – we’re all challenged in some majorly handicapping way when it comes to social behaviors and/or mental illness. I’m still shocked that it was my baby brother and not me who ended up with schizophrenia as a very young adult.
I waited…and waited…and waited – waited to one day wake up and be “crazy” like my mom or just downright miserable and confused, afraid and aimless like my little brother had become. My brother was the natural kicking post in my family (natural to the Originals, at least) because he was the last in line, of a long line of boys (with the one exception of me) who are Scandinavian and Native-American by heritage and behaved much like a clan of cavemen, given the absence of any adult female in our household. I was the only one there to protect my little brother for, well – forever, since I can remember remembering. I was the only buffer between them and him, and I innately sensed a dire need to execute my power in this position day and night, all the time. Despite my fond recollections surrounding my childhood, it was filled with the constant stress of worrying over my little brother’s well-being. This lasted until the moment he committed suicide in 1999, at age 19.
I begrudgingly buried JJ while I was still a domestic hostage to “the Ripper”, never really being able to openly or worthily mourn his tragic ending because “the Ripper” would become enraged by jealousy if I showed any sign of emotion for anyone other than Him. It was one of the very darkest periods of my existence, to my recollections…a very, very guilt-ridden and deeply sad time for me.
Sometimes still, I catch myself pondering different things that do not matter anymore anyway; I often wonder if JJ ever used to have recurring dreams about our Mom turning her back on him, also….