Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Influence of Friends

Sometimes, it becomes apparent to me how much our friends influence us. Yesterday, I was writing about my friend Ted who writes memoirs that are published. They do very well and have many readers as they tie horrible experiences he had as a kid with a terrific sense of humor. Of course, it helps that Ted is a very good writer. Not only does he earn enough money to run around the country (and world too) which he loves to do; but he gets a sense of relief from the memories of those times. He also helps others deal with their own nightmares.

I start to think about what happened to me as a child. Ted and I have a lot in common. We used our imagination to escape the ordeal we both lived through by living in another world although we still were there for the most part. Mine was terrible, but I have often thought Ted's was worse but who knows. Both of us had parents who were in twisted and ugly worlds and who were so egotistical that they could not even image getting real help so they would not include their own innocent children in their hellholes.

In some ways, I was beaten far more than Ted was and cautioned more to not diverge the secrets that were in my family and to not believe what my eyes and ears were telling me. In both of our worlds, sexual matters were forced on us at a very early age without our consent. It corrupted our view of it. Both of us have trouble with close intimate relationships. Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurrence in the human population. When Sigmund Freud came up with this very issue early in his career, the outrage was so loud and strong that he had to recant or lose his promising start in the treatment of his patients. He had no idea that incest of children was such a widespread problem.

Incest travels in families for generations. I thought it stopped in mine, but five years ago discovered that it did not. I am so sick about it. When anything in people is hidden, denied and circumvented as strong as the sexual instinct, it comes out ugly and thwarted.

The closest parent that I had was my mother and she was so angry at her lot in life. The only ones she felt she could take it out on was her children. Because we were young, she thought she could do it and we would not remember. Of course we did. Because she was molested, she molested others. She did not have the ability to examine her inner motives so she became the conduit for furthering the line of incest. I did not molest, but I did not see the abuse that happened around me. That is part of the incest. Incest is abuse at its worst.

What is ironic is down through the years, I sought help at different places. I could not get it until I moved to Redding. There I found that the mental health field finally caught up with what I needed. I tried so hard to get help, to read all sorts of self-help books which did not help and could have made it worse. I found help with a man who had the exceptional skills of hypnotherapy. He did not have advanced degrees. The others did. They were of no use. Along with my journal, I was able to climb out of the abyss.

I read Ted's books and how he fought towards sanity and against the relatives who ranted and railed against his books. They sued him and lost. They wrote him letters that accused him of lying and he kept writing the truth. People kept buying his books. He wrote more books and he delved deeper and deeper into his childhood. He is not at the bottom of it yet; but he feels he is getting at a point he might be looking at another career in writing. Several times, he let me read some of those letters when they were so black and insidious that he feared for his own black despair coming back. Thank goodness, he kept writing. The black clouds that had gathered on the horizon dissipated.

When I was a child, I would have dreams that would repeat over and over again. One dream would be that I was walking with my brother and sister and we would be trying to catch up with our mother and she would not slow down for us. I can't even estimate how many times I had that dream. Luckily, I made peace with my mother in the last few years of her life. I can now rest easily with the memories.

I have Netscape and watch it from time to time. They have old television series on it. One of them is Pushing up Daisies. In it, the portrayal of memories is very important to the plot and to the different characters in the series. In another television series, Drop Dead Diva, the plot is enriched with the past of the main character. In Pushing up Daisies, it is done on a fairy tale model and it is done very well.

I don't think one can live one's life without dealing with the past. Of course, I have been working on detaching from anger and fear from what happened to me in my childhood and that is what Ted has been doing in his memoirs. He told me that once they are in his book and on the shelf for people to read, they are no longer part of his life as living and breathing emotional baggage but just memories, history of what was and what is no more. He gets letters and email from people all of the time telling him of things in their lives and how his books give them the courage to face those memories so that they can put them in the past and get on with their lives. He feels good that he can do that for others and himself.

Sometimes, a memory will float up from my life and I will write about it in my journal and it helps. Reading Ted's books helps me with the courage to write about it in my journals. When I was getting treatment with the hypnotherapist, I would be so afraid that someone would punish me for telling him what happened to me as a child. I would want to hide behind the chair as I was talking to the therapist. Then I would explain that fear and he would tell me that it was a common reaction to therapy. It is all of us helping the rest of us escape the living nightmares of our lives.

I lost all of the books, Ted signed and gave me in the Purge of last year. There will be more as he always gives me signed books of the new ones coming out. I have often wondered what people thought of the small notes in those books I lost. I don't know where those books went that my ex-husband stole from me. They were personal notes that only I would understand. I read them as soon as I got them and the lessons of those books stayed with me and could not be taken away.

My ex-husband sits in the Veterans Hospital therapists' offices taking a huge amount of drugs and has nightmares at night and no one knows why he can't sleep without screaming. He was not in combat. Sometimes I think he wanted to punish me for divorcing him. He never forgives a grudge. I used to see my life as one long tunnel and remember seeing the light at the end of it for the first time years ago. Lately, I feel as if I finally emerged into the light. Ted says the same. He is walking around the grass, flowers and under the trees; but he also know the cave that he came out of is not far from where he is and must work to continue to walk into the sunshine. I must do the same.

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