Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Today I mounted a painting my mother made (many years ago) in my workspace. I can't recall ever displaying her artwork in my workspace throughout the entire history of my professional life. It's nice to have a reminder of her and the beauty she brought to the world. Though I love her very much and she is still alive it can still be painful to be around reminders of her. I know my ability to display her art is a testament to my own strength.

I shared the above words via social media earlier today. As the seasons inevitably begin to turn and my birthday nears it seems only natural I should spend a bit of time pausing to consider what my past has been as well as the people in my early life history who had a formative influence on me. I thought about  my parents again the other day when, after looking through a box of my personal effects I had not seen in over three years, I discovered all my old passports. I got out my current passport and then placed them all in chronological order. Then I took a look at the oldest passport.

The issue date of my oldest passport was February 17, 1981. A very young boy is smiling in the photo. His hair has already been turning brown for a while. The blonde boy he once was has already vanished. His front two baby teeth are gone. But the teeth that will replace them are not yet evident in the picture. That seven and a half year old boy looks very enthusiastic. He appears genuinely excited to be there getting his photograph taken. Now, thirty-four years later, I can't remember that day at all. And I don't believe it is a reasonable expectation that I should remember it. And yet that boy I was had such a great smile that day. You would think he was about to board a plane that very same day and go off on an immense adventure.

That passport was cancelled five years later. A new one was issued on April 22, 1986. A lot had happened in the intervening five years. A twelve year old boy looks out from the photograph of that passport. And there is no beaming smile. Instead there is a look of...what? Cautious presence? Circumspection? I believe that the intuitive individual may easily sense that something has fundamentally changed. But is it just due to the fact that this boy is now on the verge of adolescence? No, it's not. That boy had experienced a significant amount of trauma in those intervening five years. And though he was only twelve that boy looking out from that passport has already successfully pushed down his conscious awareness of a thought that has run through his mind all too often. The thought is a fear. And the fear was that he wouldn't live to see adulthood.

My one and only half-brother was born near the end of 1986. He'll be thirty years old next year. Though my father did make some effort to parent me when I was an adolescent I had become very adept at hiding the depth of my feelings of fear, anger and alienation. I had learned to do so because nobody in my family of origin would pay attention to these feelings I carried even when I did reveal them. So somewhere in my adolescent mind I concluded I had to start showing a front. And I did. I started showing a false face to the world.

Two years ago, in 2013, I stopped spending any energy showing a false face to my family of origin. The consequences in regards to my family were essentially what I expected. Members of my family did what they have always done. They avoided confronting the long un-confronted issues as they always have. And I suppose they expected I would just keep tolerating it. But I chose a different path. I chose the path of sanity. I chose a path to lead me back...to myself.

It hasn't been easy to awaken from the illusions I was caught in. I have experienced so much loss and discomfort in a mere two years. I felt quite shaken up for a while.

Later this year, shortly before the Christmas holiday season (and its associated frenzy) begins in earnest, I am going to mail these same members of my family some gifts. I will be sending these gifts as peace offerings. I don't expect my family of origin will ever change. I don't believe the reality of never seeing me again will necessarily shake them from the stupor of what I can only conclude are their own firmly rooted delusions. But it's not my responsibility to wake them up. It's my responsibility to take care of me. I am the only person alive who can be truly responsible for my own life.

Two years of therapy to truly heal a burden of trauma never fully healed is actually quite a deal. Considering I had carried the burden over thirty years an investment of two years is quite small. I got a great return on my investment.

I dream of a world free of hypocrisy.

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