"Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds." - Orison Swett Marden

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Hope Of A Family

She was the youngest of five children. The oldest brother and sister shared a different father than the three younger. Her next oldest sister and brother and she were within a few years age of one another. Billy was a casualty of the war, and idolized by my mother. Sylvia married a man who came out of the war to be a drunken abuser. How badly he abused my aunt I'm not sure of. They owned a store, a little store in a little Pennsylvania town that we would visit from our home in Ohio. My cousin Kelly (Sylvia's granddaughter from her oldest of two sons) and I knew that a stop at the store meant our pick from the shelves of candy! Aunt Sylvia would sneak it to us if Uncle Paul was around, we wouldn't want for him to yell at her. She babied those she loved, some might say she was a push-over. I remember she was diabetic and didn't keep it well controlled. From what I recall my mother and she were close. We loved Aunt Sylvia, she was very endearing. I was a young woman, in my teens when she passed, I do believe from complications of the diabetes.

As for her full siblings there was a lot of tension between her and them. She had quite possibly as a child been annoying as the baby of the family I suppose, and from what I could gather from my mother she disdained their need for appearances. That being so you could understand why they weren't favorable to the reflection she might cast on them. I was too young in those days to be aware of when and how my mother's mental illness affected their relationship with her, but no doubt it did.

Her father was physically abusive to their mother. While she shared that with me as a young child, she was not real descriptive. I do vaguely remember trying to get details of it out of her. She was great for pauses in conversation that accompanied distant stares. I never met my grandmother, she died a few years before my birth. I knew she was Hungarian and spoke broken or scarce English. My grandfather was a child of immigrant parents from Italy, he was an electrician and a ditch digger. His children had at one time or another worked with him on jobs....back when we didn't protect children right out of the responsibilities that moved them into adulthood. They learned a good work ethic. But he was a stoic man, he did not show affection.

My mother had more than one miscarriage before giving birth to me. I knew from her that she had wanted a child so badly that my father behaved jealously over her importance for a baby. I do believe, that like myself, a child/children represented the hope of a family for her. Where was the love and closeness for her within those that were her family? Billy died when she was but a child. She rarely saw her older sister Sylvia, who left home to marry, and then at the age of 16 herself she left to marry and join my father as he was stationed first in Florida in the Air Force, next in California. Her mother passed when she was only about 25. The remaining of her 'family', not close or loving relationships. And then 2 months after I was born she and my father divorced. There she was, a single mom with a 2 month old infant, some serious mental health issues, and the only people she could call family a couple thousand miles away. People that thought of her more as a burden than a family member compromised by distance whose life they wished to enhance with their support - Ha!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mother's Mental Illness

As a child I was removed from my mother's custody more than once to be placed into foster care. My parents had been married ten years when I was born, and two months later were divorced. My mother had mental illnesses, was a single parent and both the youngest of her siblings and the black sheep of the family. I was scarcely of school age when I remember accompanying her to at least one visit to her 'shrink's' office. I knew Dr. Finch was her psychiatrist and he prescribed my mother pills......medication to quell her rage. Which even in multiple doses they did not at times. It was the mid to late 60's and I don't believe terms like bi-polar or manic-depressive were around. But she most definitely suffered from these types of chemical imbalances as well as paranoid schizophrenia.

My mother sat me down at the age of about eight and informed me that at that time my father - who was back in California, we had moved here to the East coast perhaps six or so months previously - was drugging her. In this elaborate scheme she explained he was paying people, those at the establishments where she frequented for coffee and food, and drive thrus, and others to 'break' into our apartment and drug her coffee. I listened to her explanation quite seriously as the complexity and unreality registered.....this could not be! Even in my eight year old head I could see the scope of such a scheme was beyond my father's orchestration and financial means! Never mind that it sounded ridiculous, but none-the-less I gave an affirmative nod and answered yes when my mother pleaded "You believe me Bobbi Lynne, you believe me don't you?!". I knew she needed me to say yes, and I most certainly couldn't speak of anything rational against her, her need so vital of me believing in her and this as well.

What had begun happening is that she would get wound into a rage, it would escalate and climax, she would rant and rage for sometime before winding down and then repeat the process. She could go on for hours like this, and she frequently did! She would start these rages even while sitting down at a restaurant after having drank her coffee. She had a mouth like a truck driver and she spared no expletives. It was horrifically embarrassing and always scary because we, her then boyfriend Ernie and myself, knew there was no curbing any part of her actions and behaviors. We were in it for the long haul. If we were out in public we had to wait until she would comply with our directives to leave -  you sure as hell didn't try to shut her up or hurry her to leave! And then we went home to ride it out. There were many a nights where I got little sleep or rest for her 'bummers' as we called them appeared as though they would have no end. When she did not pick back up I was too relieved for words.....but I also knew 'it' would rear it's ugly head again....where and when nobody could know. 

It would be years down the road before I ever acknowledged that I had been abused by my mother. I was actually 38 the first that I even thought of or ever verbalized myself as having been an abused child. While the system had removed me from my mother's care, and I had been fortunate, blessed if you will, to be placed in good foster homes to my age of eighteen, it had done so without ever teaching me how to deal with my mother's mental illness, nor of it's affect and impact on me.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Get It Together, Keep It Together, Reach for Success

For several years now I've had a real struggle getting my life back together. I have gone through enough trauma that I became progressively more isolated. The one individual that's been my primary relationship has been terribly undependable. His dysfunction has become my dysfunction.  Where I once had control of my environment to create organization, structure, order, routine and self-discipline, I now try to accept what I cannot change. I know what it is I need, I don't know how to accomplish it alone or with out the help and support necessary. This leads to a great loss of hope.

This is a start of what I need in my environment so that I can return to the healthy functions I used to live prior;

ORGANIZATION is required for structure and order.
STRUCTURE and ORDER come from maintained organization.
Maintaining structure and order create ROUTINE.
Maintaining routine develops SELF-DISCIPLINE.

The basic areas to organize, maintain structure and order, create routine and develop self-discipline;
1) Personal environment
2) Personal self
3) Time and tasks
4) Money and other resources

Personal Environment
Home, car, work place, any physical space you take up; keep tidy and clean, maintain in all ways

Personal Self
*Physical; your body: eating/diet, activity/fitness, etc.
*Mental; education/learning, etc.
*Psychological or Spiritual
*Social; relationships, etc.

Time and Tasks
Plan and Schedule; Events and Tasks

Money and Other Resources (i.e.; time, labor, etc.)
Budget; well managed and maintained bills and finances, etc.; what you have, what you owe; what you're saving, what you use, etc. ...Can only commit any resource what you have or have enough of....

Consistency, dependability and balance are all a result of living this way. It's quite simple to accomplish but you have to live it.
If you do not live this way you become ineffective, inefficient and even destructive/counterproductive; 'all over the place'.