THEY REMEMBER EVERYTHING!
… and yet ANOTHER lightbulb moment! Or should I say LIGHTENING BOLT MOMENT?This morning while scrolling though my Facebook feed I stumbled across this illustration (ownership unknown). Upon closer inspection I all but jumped out of my own skin as I headed frantically to an old box of drawings I’d sketched throughout my late teens and early twenties, which, for those of you who didn’t already know, was the beginning of my outward struggle with debilitating adult mental illness. As I scrambled furiously through the dusty box of drawings the memories flooded me and I just couldn’t help but feel that I’d sketched something hauntingly similar to the image I had just seen on the feed. And then? THERE IT WAS BURIED AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BOX! Yet another missing link in the story of me and “The Diary Of My Perfection”.
Meanwhile, can I just say this? I’ve given birth to three children in this lifetime. First, my Christian, “the other pea in my pod”. It is no secret to the handful of people who know us well that we are one in the same person. Born into similar worlds of contingent based relationships where our overall human value was merely as good as we could ever be. No deeds, words, behaviors or actions were ever quite good enough for anything permanent or “unconditional”, and forgiveness and grace were granted under no circumstance. We have the same shattered hearts and the same missing pieces. We heard virtually the same words, narratives and explicitives from our fathers over and over and over again, creating sick, dark, lonely chasms so deeply engrained within each of our souls it’s barely even fathomable. On the surface? Both Christian and I appeared to have it all and to have been given everything we could have needed for success in our seemingly picture perfect childhoods and adolescences. If only. It’s not as easy as you would think to get out there and fly with burnt and mangled wings. But I digress.
Next there was the little one who passed go but never collected the $200 before her tiny little feet even hit the board, 15 years ago this Friday actually. Gina Marie was both the greatest gift and greatest tragedy of my life, wrapped softly in a yellow blanket and sent back Home in angel’s wings. But even with an often daily struggle with the hole in my heart that belongs to her I must admit that there have been days that I’ve thanked God that He took her out of here before the pain and struggle of simply “existing” became her any longer then the few short hours she spent here.
And then there’s my Gia. The pièce de ré·sis·tance ergo Swan song light of my life and indeed the very reason I finally found the courage some ten plus years ago to begin the arduous task of ripping the infamous “black Spider-Man suit” desperately off my sick and worn out body once and for all! Any minute now I am going to trek backwards to “that day at Jason’s Deli” and begin to tell you how that precious little girl at age 18 months became the catalyst for my journey towards mental illness recovery and survival. But again, I digress.
The bottom line here is this: My two “living children” have been raised in virtually polar opposite environments. Well, for the most part. Just as the case was for me, my son spent what were supposed to be the most innocent and carefree years of his life with a toxic array of words filled with hate, shame, anger, guilt and rage all but spat directly into his once unscarred and trusting heart and cemented permanently into his psyche. My daughter, on the other hand, once and finally removed from the cyclically toxic environment I bore her to, has, for the most part, had two healthy parents in the home in which we’ve dwelled since Zack came into our lives. No hate. No shame. No anger. No guilt. No rage being spewed into the depths of her heart. At least not on our watch! In this home there are not one, but two, no, wait, THREE human beings that are cherished. Human lives that are treasured. Precious emotions, feelings, vulnerabilities and weaknesses that are validated, if not celebrated when possible. In this home there is safety. Comfort. Warmth. Connection. Praise for the good and encouragement for failings. Simply spoken: In this home there are NO contingencies and no one closes their eyes at night only to find themselves trapped in a nightmare where monsters slay human souls with words. And no, I am NOT saying that we’re a perfect family. We too struggle with faults and have less than stellar days. But we strive to navigate them in such a way that we don’t damage each other irreparably.
With that, although the ultimate damage and survival reports are yet to be determined, I have to tell you that it does appear that Gia is faring much better thus far as a result of the healthy words and ideals that are filling her mind by the “driving forces” in her life. Emotional and verbal assaults from parent to child are the crippling cause of a wide variety of adult mental illnesses and psyches and from what I can tell you from my own experience watching two different children being raised in two totally different environments? “Children DO learn what they live.” So please, if you are reading this, be careful what you are spewing into your babies’ ears. You only get one shot to fill those precious minds of theirs with hope, optimism and the potential for a lifetime of grace, not just for others, but themselves as well. “AGREEMENT NO. 1 :: Be Impeccable With Your Word.”
Can you guess what the saddest part of this drawing of mine from 29 years ago is? Looks like I clearly had all this information within me before I even realized it, and what a fool I was not to heed my inner voice LONG before I finally did. Thankfully, because of my daughter AND my son, I finally found the courage to walk away from a childhood filled with “all the words I never needed to hear” and likewise a former marriage filled with the same. In true phoenix style I took hold of my little girl and lifted her out of not only my endless mountain of ashes, but as many future ashes of her own I could possibly foresee. Now here’s hoping my Gia will be the first emotionally well and healthy person to have grown from the twisted branches she came from only to find an equally healthy man to fill both hers AND their children’s ears with only the most beautiful “words”.