Living in the Two Hearts

My Spiritual Insights and Musings

Part 3 continues…

Posted by Anne Elizabeth on July 6, 2009

Get comfortable.  This one is long and involved.  Reflect well on your own life, truly look inside, and see if you have any wounds you have not attended to.

Recommended Reading: The Thirteenth Man

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Real and true anger that leads to bitterness that eventually leads to out-right animosity (hatred) takes time to develop.  It is often so subtle that the person experiencing these feelings may not even be fully aware of their occurrence.  But as disappointment after disappointment follows, the unhealed wound begins to expand.  As anyone can attest to, an expanding, unattended wound will inevitably become infected.

After the birth of the first child, the second child followed two years later by the miracle (and it was a miracle) of faulty or missed chemical birth control known better as “The Pill”.  But as a result of that conception, a chemical imbalance occurred in the baby that was later compounded by a severe stigmatism in both eyes which caused a retardation of this second child.

To the credit of the parents, that type of birth control was never used again, and they did not take the advice of doctors to put the mentally slow child into an institution.  Instead, they took on the challenge of raising such a child – whether out of guilt or out of responsibility is not important.  By the time this child was 2 yrs old, and the oldest (me) was 4 yrs old, and a dynamic of responsibility and dependability began to develop.  My brother could hardly speak yet some how I understood him and became his interpreter – at least until the summers.

In the summertime, I went to stay with my Grandparents.  There I received ample attention, praise, and encouragement.  I learned and excelled in many subjects so much so that when I started Kindergarten, I was ahead of most of my classmates.  Consequently, I was bored and often got into mischief.  But my brother continued his slow development until it was determined he needed glasses at age 3 or 4 years.  After that, he could learn to walk, but was still very clumsy and awkward and his speech was still too choppy to understand.

When I was seven, my third sibling was born, again due to faulty contraception, and my younger sister came into the world.  Around the same time a possible solution to part of my brother’s difficulty with eyesight presented itself.  I was left to care for my baby sister a lot.  Now, I didn’t really mind so much, but I was only 7 yrs old.  To me my baby sister was a “living doll” with who I could do what I pleased.  I’m sorry to say that my small-child’s mind decided it wanted to give the “doll” comfort, so I occupied a lot of my time making the baby cry and then comforting her.

Odd as it may sound, that when I hit my sister it never seemed wrong to me.  Perhaps because corporal punishment was practiced in our household, so hitting and slapping just…came natural to me? Mind you, that was the accepted practice of the day.  Today, many parents go in the opposite direction and don’t do anything to discipline their children.  I don’t know that society will ever meet the “middle-ground” between the two.  But I digress…

On a positive note, I did become very adept at changing cloth diapers, carrying the baby correctly (though I did – on accident – once drop my little sister on her head.  She’s very intelligent, btw!), and dressing babies, and then later small children.  So much so that I was babysitting by the age of 9yrs and officially by the age of 11yrs (the nine years were for close friends of the family).

Also at the age of nine, I was no longer permitted to visit my Grandparents for the whole summer.  I could only stay with them for no more than a week or two; though I think it was mostly one week.  After that dramatic change, things went steadily down hill, and I remember thinking to myself, “Who are my parents?”  My dad was the evening news – that’s when I had to surrender my TV time (I did watch a lot of TV), and my mom was someone who cooked the meals, sewed garments and things, and bought us toys (we had a descent collection of toys!).

I tried my best to stay out of trouble because I didn’t like to get hit with things, and for the most part I succeeded.  I went to school and did my projects.  I did become mixed up with the wrong friends for a while and became a perpetual liar.  They got me into so much trouble and I got me into so much trouble – mostly with my teachers at school.

Sometime during my 6th Grade year, my family moved to a new state, where they live to this day.  It was during this move that I had decided I wasn’t going to be like my old self where we used to live.  I was going to be different!  By God’s grace – though I would never had thought of it at the time – I was able to change, to stop lying, to become a better person and thank heavens I did.  For what followed was so horrific that I might not have survived had I not been put through those changes.

During my 14th year of life I entered into a very deep depression.  It was catalyzed by an event that was so mundane I still can’t believe it even occurred.  As I had mentioned earlier, my parent had found a solution to my brother’s eye sight problems.  Today it’s known as Ocular Therapy, but in those days there was no name for it because the student who developed the protocol was still working on her Doctorate when a test-patient (my brother) came on the scene.  Thanks to some kind of connection, my parent met this woman and agreed to allow the results of my brother’s work to be used in her dissertation.  Such began the endeavor to give my brother a chance at a somewhat normal life.  My brother was just 6 yrs old and definitely mentally handicapped.  I had forgotten this minor detail when I began Ocular Therapy years later.

I also forgot that I was 14yrs old, quite capable, and really didn’t need any assistance from either parent to do these eye exercises.  So when I told the therapist that my parent wasn’t working with me, I really didn’t expect the results that came about.  Embarrassment, hurt, and anger were the results.  My parent believed I was attacking them personally, when really all I wanted was to spend time with them.  But the years of resentment and bitterness had been building since I was 2yrs old, so actually the reaction was appropriate to the number of years of welling feelings; and the “volcano” erupted with lies and accusations followed by spite and damaging words.  What followed that episode was even worse – total silence for almost 2 months.

How can a parent not speak to their own child who lives under the same roof, who eats at the same dinner table, who is totally dependent on their parents for all their basic needs?  I think the answer is this: it can only happen if there are pre-existing feelings that have built up over the years – negative feelings – both towards themselves and their child.  No rational human being should be able to do that to their own flesh and blood unless they really, really disliked that “flesh and blood”.

The depression brought on suicidal thoughts as a means of punishing myself and my parent.  But again, by the grace of God, the fear of death was greater than my selfishness.  I finally reached out to others in my family who did respond positively, even though nothing was done.  So God provided another avenue that was abruptly interrupted shortly after the journey began.

Then one night, I attended a Youth Event at our church, and they had invited some youth counselors to come and speak on the topic of teen depression and suicide.  The presentation was typical and stale – one that pretty much everyone had already heard in Health class – so almost none were paying attention; something that was made very obvious when the counselors asked for questions and no one responded.  Then the Holy Spirit got involved and I found myself speaking.  The long and short, I shared my experience with depression (which I was still in at the  time of this talk, now age 15yrs), and my fight with resisting the selfish need of committing suicide.  I think I concluded with something like, “Get help.  It can kill you if you don’t get help!”  My parent was in attendance with me…

That started a viable discussion on the matter, and afterward, parents AND fellow peers came up to me to thank me for sharing.  They also thanked my parent for allowing me to share, though to be honest, I don’t think my parent would have tried to stop me as it would have drawn unnecessary attention.  My parent did smile and nod their head, but if you were standing where I was standing, you would have felt the anger coming at you like a knife.

This is part of that mal-formed conscience that really makes it difficult for the person affected: WE CANNOT take a compliment.  To us, you’re just attacking.  Who cares if your words are nice, you’re still attacking.  Remember, what’s RIGHT is WRONG and what’s wrong is right.  It is an oxymoron that cannot be rationally explained.

I, also, had acquired the above mentioned difficulty.  Even years after all the healing and recovery that I’ve gone through, I still struggle with accepting a direct compliment. Ask any of my few close friends – they’ll be the first to tell you how hard it is for me to take a compliment.  Although one of my friends has recently told me I have gotten better. =-)

Needless to say, the animosity continued to grow exponentially and was later compounded by an outside source who took my parent to task, which only to make things worse.  During the years that followed, I was outside of my house as much as possible.  Thankfully the skills I had mentioned earlier with taking care of small children became a viable business and I was babysitting all the time.  When I wasn’t babysitting, I stayed over at a friend’s house.

This continued until my graduation from high school.  When it came time to choose a college, I promptly applied to colleges as far away as I could reasonably go.  During this time, the depression that began age 14yrs had never been healed, and it grew steadily worse until it was brought to a head some 8 years later.

I attended one year of college, then one semester of a local university, followed by almost 10 years of just “living” (that is working a 9-5 job that pays minimum wage).  I didn’t mind, I was trying to heal.  But without therapy or appropriate counseling, healing was not going to happen. Since I was also outside of my Faith at this time, and God had no conscious part in my life (He’s always involved, whether we recognize Him or not.  God does not require us to believe in Him to exist), I did not know where to begin or how to begin healing.  So my own wounds continued to expand and become infected.

My parent and I had a lot in common back then, both wounded, and both experiencing the setting-in of infection within our wounds.  But my healing would begin (slowly but surely) after my 10 year hiatus from college with my return to college; and the cleaning out of the wound would follow while I experienced my discernment with religious life. Thus bringing my series nicely into conjunction with the last words of the Part 3b: “I just couldn’t believe that what I saw was really what I saw…”

To be continued…

Recommended Reading: The Thirtheeth Man

Previous Post: The Healing Begins

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