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 a duly noted “predisposition” of mental instability attached to my very conception since before my birth (my mother was a severely unstable, drug-addicted, drunken Shawnee Native; who was also at the time, an untreated schizophrenic when she gave birth to me in 1979), I believe my father and brothers expected a deficiency 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 raving, schizophrenic drunk just like the estranged and frightening mother from my childhood. Very regularly during preadolescence, I pattern-dreamed (a Shawnee term used to describe the attachment of one’s sub-consciousness to another’s through dreamscape – away from the waking world as we know it) about my elusive and unpredictable mother.
I was always a yearling again – wearing a soggy diaper, behind the lovingly hand-crafted bars of a wooden crib – alone in a warm and sunlit bedroom; and I am crying my little heart out for someone to open the door and come for me, to hear me. Hours seemed to pass this way in the dream; nobody would come for what felt like days, maybe weeks –to a youngster ‘s warped perception of time…and then, SHE opens the door and stands there in the shadow cast by the hallway bulb – its grayness 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;
I swallow small gulps of my own snot and tears in the process; I’m so desperate to catch her attention.
She turns to her left and leaves without a care in the world. It was also during preadolescence, I should note here, that my father decided to spill the truth behind a strain in their relationship that obviously went beyond the differences they blamed for their divorce: this was the life-altering morsel 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, and it explained countless trifles of my existence – this horrible little truth. I wondered who else knew. My father assured me that only “the Originals”, 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 the pliable age of eleven…it hurt deeply to learn, and never quite allowed Life to feel the same again after knowing it. 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. He was a sensitive spirit: quiet and observant; wise and very deep thinking; a true empath just the way that I am, too. Despite the fond recollections I have surrounding my childhood, the flip-side of it is that 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, deeply guilt-ridden and sad time for me.
Sometimes still, I catch myself pondering 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.
I am currently in my umpteenth attempt at making my own amends to, and forgiving past discrepancies of:
Our full-blooded Shawnee, medicated, therapy-involved, clean and sober Mother.