Friday, September 9, 2016

Together Through Life Totem Meditation / September 9, 2016

(Click to embiggen)

This morning I woke up at about 3 a.m. sensing something extremely painful throughout my body -- a sensation I couldn't identify.  It wasn't a new feeling.  In fact, it felt very very old -- something I have never wanted to fully feel -- something that would overwhelm a child and, if the child survived, those painful sensations would be triggered again and again throughout life whenever anything happened that even remotely resembled abandonment.

A DVD copy of "My Own Love Song," featuring a soundtrack by Bob Dylan, arrived in the mail yesterday. When it became clear that I wasn't going to be able to get back to sleep, I got up and watched it.  A major theme in the film is abandonment and healing from abandonment. Take what you have gathered from coincidence.

Just now I wondered about the etymology of the word "abandon."   

To put someone under someone else's control.

"- ment." Added to verb stems to represent the result or product of the action.

Abandonment.  Who abandoned whom?

Bob Dylan's collection of songs "Together Through Life" was released almost exactly a year after the death of the man I loved for so many years.  Perhaps it was back then that I heard that the songs were written by Bob Dylan for a movie but as far as I can tell, the movie was never released anywhere near where I live.  I do remember hearing "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" and taking it joyfully to my heart because it reminded me of the man I loved who had died.  Then I saw the horrifying video of domestic violence that was paired with it, which broke my denial about the domestic violence I experienced when the man I loved who came back broken from the war in Vietnam abandoned me, or so I thought at the time.  His brother-in-law was trying to show me otherwise when he said, "He would have destroyed you."  I'm wondering if that abandonment was a fierce desperate kindness, impossible to begin to understand or accept until last night. Right now I'm recalling the film, "Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," where the mother says:

"There are some things for which I don't expect to be forgiven, not by my children or even by God."

I can't find the other quote I am looking for, but my recollection is that the mother says that after she attacked her children during a drunken amphetamine-induced rage, she could never trust herself to be close to them again and pushed them away to protect them from her.  

The man I love hit me in an amphetamine-induced rage.  The "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" violence is in the context of amphetamines.  My mother took a prescription amphetamine from 1954 until the day she died.  As I was being beaten up by the man I loved, it felt just like being beaten up by my mother when I was a child.  The difference was that I found the voice that I didn't have as a child, and I yelled as loud as I could, "YOU CAN'T HIT ME." I was not only yelling at him.  I was yelling at my mother.

He immediately stopped.  I don't know for sure, but I think that was one of the many things he did that he felt was unforgivable.  His own parents had beat him.  His sister told me that his father beat him and his brothers until they vomited.  He promised never to hit me again. Many years later he said, "You stood up to me."

We separated soon after that.  

I wonder why this is all coming up again now.  Now I'm remembering the time I was in my bedroom, home on a break from my first quarter of college, when I heard my mother chasing my youngest sister (who was 12 years old at the time) into the bathroom and begin to beat her as she had beaten both us throughout our childhood.  I clearly remember crouching in the hallway next to my bedroom the last time my mother hit me.  I am fairly sure that I was under 11 years old but not much younger.  I remember thinking, "That doesn't hurt.  She can't make me cry." I wonder if she sensed that she had lost her power over me when I didn't cry.  This time, I knew what I needed to do for my sister. I ran to the bathroom and looked at my mother and said in a quiet angry voice, "DON'T YOU EVER HIT MY SISTER AGAIN."  She stopped.  Nothing more was said.  I went back to my bedroom.

There had been no one to protect me.  I am the oldest of three daughters.  My middle sister says that our mother only hit her once and that, in my sister's words, "I deserved it." 

Where am I going with this?  I'm not sure.  I've come a long way since I woke up at 3 a.m.  Have I written anything new?  Each time I tell these stories, I learn a little more about myself and those involved.

I'll be 67 years old in a few weeks.  It is never to late to heal.  It is never to late to truly feel how painful it is feel abandoned and find that I can survive the pain that I couldn't feel until now.  To have reached the point where I don't abandon myself.  That I don't put myself under someone else's control.  That I am now freed to see that what I perceived as abandonment by someone else could be accepted years later as a paradoxical gift.  

Just before the sun rose, I heard a Virginia rail.

It's a beautiful September day.

A friend was giving out dahlia bulbs last spring.  Today my dahlia plant is blooming for the first time.  It looks to me as if it has wings.  A dahlia angel.

Dahlias are "the symbol of a commitment and bond that lasts forever.  The dahlia flower is still used today in gardens and flower arrangements to celebrate love and marriage."

Today I received a message from a distant cousin who lives in Zagreb, Croatia.  We are among the many people who have had our DNA tested and are discovering each other and are trying to figure out who our common ancestors are.  I also heard from a man in Italy who had an Irish mother and from a man from Germany who knows of ancestors from Dresden and from what is Poland today.

My eyes are just like my grandfather whose mother came from Achern, Germany, and whose father came from Stadtlengsfeld, Germany, in the 1800s.  A friend who was born in Dublin said that I looked more Irish than she did.  Although my father's side is almost entirely Norwegian, there is a great great grandfather on that side who didn't marry my great great grandmother and was said to have been German.  Perhaps his ancestors came north to Germany from Croatia or Italy.

My 23andMe results show:

Scandinavian   25.9%
British & Irish 25.1%
French & German 8.9%
Broadly Northwestern European 33.9%
Eastern European 2.8%
Broadly European 3.2%
East Asian   0.2%
Yakut           0.1%

My results show:

North Africa 1%
Scandinavia  44%
Great Britain 28%
Ireland 13%
Iberian Peninsula 5%
Europe West 4%
Europe East 2%
Italy/Greece 1%
West Asia -- Caucasus 2%


Anonymous said...

Oh am, this post tugs at my heart in a million ways. It reminds me of something my twin brother (a social worker therapist) told me many years ago, "The psyche knows no time." No matter how many years pass, sometimes the psyche remembers even when all the wounds have long since healed. There is peace. Your heart and spirit have already healed so much. The dahlias are blooming and the songs of life still bring you joy. This is how we heal. I awaken in the night too.

I loved reading your 23 and me info. I just had mine done too. I am a whopping 98.3% Ashkenazi.

am said...

Thank you so much for what you wrote, robin andrea, especially what your twin brother said.

It was one of my oldest friends who introduced me to the idea of having my DNA tested. Coincidentally, she has about the same percentage of Ashkenazi as you do! I curious to know what the remaining percentages of your DNA are.

Anonymous said...

This is the report:
Ashkenazi 98.3
Southern Ruropean 0.3
Broadly Southern European 0.3
Northwestern European < 0.1
Broadly Northwestern European < 0.1
Broadly European 1.2
That sums it up! I'd love to know what your friend's other percentages are.

Sabine said...

Gosh, you really packed this post! There are so many thoughts coming up. First, I remembered the time during my early university years when I realised that, yes, my parents did hit us when we were little. Despite my claims of having been raised in a liberal open minded household with a great childhood. I recently asked my sister about that and she said, yes, of course, but they didn't know it any better, they thought this was a good thing. Because it's what their parents did etc.
I still would like to ask my youthful 18yrs old me why I denied that fact to myself and others for so many years.
I gave R a present of his DNA for his 60th birthday but it was nothing to write home about: 99% Irish, 1% Scottish. I had expected more drama, silly me.
Have you watched this video?

Nick said...

Nothing is over until everything is over. Regards, Nick.