writing that letter to my mother
by jennifer kiley
WARNING: there may be some triggering material in this post.
i told my therapist about reading a letter on someone’s blog where they expressed how abusive their mother was to them. They, also, created a mother’s day card. at the time, i did not realize how i responded to it. i did write a comment on this person’s post but i didn’t realize exactly how much their letter and card had triggered me. my therapist asked me if i ever thought about writing a letter to my mother. She thought it would help me emotionally and mentally to express to my mother just what she did to me and how it had affected me then and what it has been doing to me my entire life. the moment she said those words, the thoughts and feelings went through my mind of a great chill and fear. conjuring up that woman and facing the past with her in my mind feels to my insides like more than i could handle.
i see my therapist twice a week, so tomorrow i am sure she will bring up the idea of that letter as one of the topics we talk about. it probably is something that i should really consider doing. it is really difficult for me to face my childhood. last time i tried to do that was in a trauma group. at that time i had a different therapist, one who i loved so much and who i lost about 1 1/2 yrs ago.
my therapist today was a co-leader in the trauma group. she told me that when i would read what i had written as part of our assignments back then, there was absolutely no emotion attached to my presentation, when we read out loud in front of everyone in the group. i was so shut down emotionally, that the words felt like they belonged to someone else.
in therapy, we have been taking it really slowly, getting in touch with my feelings. i have buried them quite deep inside of me. but if i am going to heal the damage i need to face the abuse openly and honestly. which is more than i feel i am ever going to be able to do. but, obviously, i wouldn’t be in therapy all this time if i didn’t know and want to do this work. i want to be healed. i want the nightmares to stop. it would be grand if i could live a life where i didn’t shut down everytime i got too close to being who i really am and to express my feelings without fear always preceeding them. being real is extremely important to me. that is why i wake up every day knowing i must do whatever i need to, in order that this day will have meaning. i will live my life with purpose and hope to find more pieces of the puzzle to make sense out of my being alive.
there will be enjoyment in the mix of learning and growing. and i will do what i love. that is creating and loving my chosen family which includes my partnr and our animals. getting to watch good to great films. reading enlightening words in books and online material from multiple sources. watching television. listening to music. creating blog posts. participating in the whole social media experience. and just feeling and being happy. getting beyond the down side of bipolar. never forgetting the variety that comes with being part of the living world. enjoying art in all its forms. enjoying life in all its forms.
A few days later i wrote the followng:
my next session, i told my therapist that i started writing a post on writing a letter to my mother, just to express my feelings about the idea of doing that. she told me she thought that was good but she didn’t want me to talk about my blog posts. she felt that i was avoiding therapy. instead she wanted me to talk about death and suicide and my childhood abuse. she felt it was time. well, i will tell you that she really freaked me out. i told her i still have that post on the preliminary of writing the letter to my mother but it is in draft form. someone wrote to me about this and expressed to me that healing is not a race. i totally agree with her. i know that i am good at avoidance but there are reasons. facing certains things can cause bad things to happen in my mind if i push forward too quickly. even the idea that she (my dead mother) will never read it still makes it scary.
two nights ago i had the worse nightmare and my dead mother and younger brother, who has been in a psych hospital since november 2011 for his bipolar/schizophrenia. he has stopped taking his medication and is in bad shape. he is the brother that has threatened to kill me if he ever saw me again. (and i am actively trying to find out how he is doing so that i might try to hekp him.) they were both in the nightmare. i was there prisoner, stranded at this awful house with no means to escape or at least that is what it felt like. is the thought of writing the letter making my dreams turn into nightmares or are my nightmarse trying to tell me something? how one’s past and one’s demented family can skew your mind from being sure of one’s sanity.
what the hell is sanity? does it mean you are not mentally ill? or does it mean you are able to function in this world with as little paranoia as possible. i know i am not insane but i have a hell of a lot of psych diagnoses that prevent me from living a relatively calm and uneventful life. does everyday have to have some form of torture in it to make one feel alive? when i say torture, i believe i mean feel anguish or suicidal or depressed or so manic that you get into a rage too easily at nothing that important. would you call feeling this way, being tortured? my mother tortured me. is that why i am tortured now. my father had the most perverted collection of friends that he allowed his sicko friends to set me up in order to sexually abuse me. he even forced me to be with them against my protestations. did my mother know? she said certain things that led me to believe she had some sort of cognition of their irreputable behavior. there is so much more that occurred in my childhood that i will at the moment reserve for therapy sessions. i don’t feel i have anything to hide. i was not the abuser, they were. i was just the abandoned child whose vulnerabilty was recognized as an easy target for any evil pedophile, inside and outside of our family.
there were no child abuse hotlines to call. the police would be too dangerous to talk to. one of my abusers threatened to kill me and my family if i told anyone, including the police. i felt isolated and alone in this living nightmare. i had and have a vivid imagination plus i am quite good at dissociation. going to fantasy places is second nature to my mind. maybe that is why when i read a fantasy book i slip so easily into the world that the writer has created. the land in the book becomes more real then the world that actually surrounds me. it’s also more inviting. i don’t believe you can die as if you were one of the characters in the story. you’re more like harry potter with his invisibility cloak.
there are questions that are asked of people who are gay or bipolar or both: if you had the choice to not be gay and/or bipolar what would you chose?
I would chose to be both. but since i have no choice i would say that the goddess predetermined my answer by making it so, without any request by me or asking my conscious permission. now comes the explanation why i would not reverse the process on either of these characteristics or manifestations of who or what i am. i love being attracted to women but it does not preclude having an attraction – non-sexual – for certain men, who often more than not turn out to be gay themselves or just extremely androgynous. being with a woman is more appealing. but it is not just any woman. as that would be true for any straight woman, it’s not just any man.
as to the specifics of bipolar and why i would not want that to be taken away: i embrace the energy and the creative side that often accompanies bipolar. the hypomanic state makes you feel alive with an unlimited amount of energetic resources that enable you to go on forever when you are working on a creative project. it, actually, allows you to work on a multiplicity of projects that fill you with immense satisfaction. it hieghtens all of your senses. your thinking, when focused, gives you an abundance of ideas that feel magical. and your muse is so generous with her participation in livening your imagination. it is better than having almost any kind of drug high that i can think of that i have tried in the past. it is a state of euphoria like no other. trust me, i have tried almost every kind of illegal drug. i must admit that hallucinating on acid or mushrooms were exceptional but the acid always had that drawback of bringing on a sense of paranoia. that really sucked.
admittedly, with bipolar, there are many deterents that suck also. the great depression that takes you down into the depths of the seven circles of hell. suicidal thinking is always one of the descending factors of bipolar. the actual trying is so close one can reach out and touch it: the knife that will open up your veins or the pills that will lull you into a deep and endless sleep where that melancholia of all consuming emotional pain can be silenced as you slip away into a deathlike euphoria of peace. but you don’t stay in that state forever.
slipping back into the manic or hypomaic state there awaits you a rage that overtakes you without permission and is released like a cobra striking at it’s victim. the anger, frustration and irritability that slip in and out without a moments notice, then are gone. all of this is a balancing act with triggers that if you are lucky you may learn to recognize before the mood changes.
the unpredictability of the preditability of the mood changes: you know you need to be on a schedule of eating and sleeping regularly. if you take medication, you need to have that regulated also. you try to meditate or destress regularly. exercise is great if you are physically able. doing regularly scheduled psychotherapy sessions. talk therapy is quite helpful in working on the important issues of your life, past, present and future. in my case, my past has such a traumatic and dramatic affect on my life now that i need to unearth all the shit that i was forced to live through. sometimes i feel like most of my life has been like living in a constant trauma.
death is a driving force in my life. i seem to be haunted by people, esp. women i love dying suddenly and unexpectedly. i have had seven serious brushes with death myself through car accidents and near drownings. i have the best guardian angels one could ask for to protect me. and i have known and know some of the greatest people in my life. and have lived the most magnificent experiences. so out with the shit and in with the good. now just to stop seeing dead people when i am sleeping, esp. my mother and father. it was okay when my grandmother and grandfather visited me after they died. and my freinds visited me, some that had died but usually the ones who are still alive. those dreams i love the most. also, i have a tendency to have dreams where i am being visited by famous people in the acting profession. it feels quite real and we have the best of times. when i awaken from these dreams i am sometimes in a haze and feel like i am friends with the actors in my dreams. that is how real they do feel. but how real is life anyway. it moves time along quite quickly.
so, do i write that letter to my dead mother, which she will never read. or will she hover in her ghost like consciousness and spy on me to see what it is i will dig up from my memories about her? when i really open up inside, what will i find? if i write the letter then i will have my answer.
Caitlin & Will – Address In The Star
this is for the therapst i lost who taught me tenderness and love.
losing her was so painful. i will love her always and forever.