“Making story of our family history doesn’t mean we change the realities of our forebears’ lives … we don’t turn a thief into a pillar of virtue … but we learn to carry the story differently so the lineage can heal.”
Storycatcher, Making Sense of Our Lives Through The Power and Practice of Story
My mother died on May 21, 2007. She had lived with my husband, Bill and me for six and a half years. Her last five months were spent in a nursing home and then an assisted living facility when I could no longer care for her myself. During the time she lived with us she was diagnosed with emphysema, osteoporosis, and lung cancer. After she died, I spent three years missing and hating her all at the same time.
I sought counseling and came away with a diagnosis of PTSD due to my parent’s abuse of me when I was a child. During Mom’s final years her behaviors triggered my long repressed memories of mistreatment. I found myself reacting in “fight or flight” mode, more often fighting with her than fleeing the scene. Her eventual moves to nursing and assisted living homes, gave me the space to begin pulling my life back together again. I could no longer ignore the lingering feeling of being broken that I’d neglected for too many years.
Eight months after Mom died, my youngest brother, Reid, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He passed away on June 1, 2010. Because we were in the middle of a move from our house in the country where Mom had lived with us, to a much smaller home in the city, I was unable to go to New England to say goodbye and to heal our own tattered relationship. Insomnia and anxiety were my constant companions.
That July, in order to take a break from my woes, I signed up for a weeklong writing retreat in Taos, New Mexico, led by Life Coach, Jennifer Louden. Having written poetry and nonfiction for years, I thought that putting pen to paper again might help me to transition into the next chapter of my life.
A month later, back at home, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. By early October, after all of my reproductive organs were removed, I was declared cancer free. Spending the following weeks in recovery, I rethought the way I had spent my life. Feeling alone and without a purpose, I knew I had been given a reprieve from the long, dark history of cancer deaths in my family of origin.
On November 30th, without knowing why or where it might take me, I published my first post on my new blog. I had kept two blogs in the past. But in the messiness of life they had fallen by the wayside. I wasn’t sure how long this one would last, but I figured it would be a good place to start gathering stories about my family, and to begin finding out what I could do to put my life back together.
Now in 2016 I’m still posting stories, quotes, and other items of interest on my blog. I’ve finished writing a memoir, SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go, about my relationship with my mother, her final years of life, and how I released the dark cloak of victimhood I’d worn for far too long.
Please join me as I continue my journey through life. Sign-up and follow me on this blog and my newsletter. Just fill in the boxes above on the right and they will be delivered to your mailbox whenever I post something new.