Thursday, June 2, 2016

Jabel Muntar

“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom…” Isaiah 35:1

I read back through my high school journals a few nights ago and felt split in two.

The state of the familial mess I've confronted in the past three years, I expressly articulated then. And, because need for connection and belonging sometimes instigates self-denial, I packed it all down into the recesses of my psyche. Same insights. Same honesty. Although I noted then that I disliked my therapist's insistence that I wasn't mentally ill, that I didn't need medication. But my mother liked me so much better when I was broken and medicated. In assuming illness I gave my mother relief and in turn gained her good graces in ways that I otherwise could not. I wrote about how much she needed help, and that I recognized my role as her scapegoat. I wrote about taking care of her two adopted kids and how much she seemed to genuinely dislike motherhood and being at home with us when she wasn't locked in her room invested in study. I mentioned needing my father, and how conflicted I was over their divorce. I hated that she made me chose, and that ultimately he wanted me to do the same. I noted every change in my adolescent mood and jumped on it as an affective swing that might mean my mother would somehow take notice of me again. 

This record is almost thirty years old, and it clearly sets up conditions for the decades that followed; problems that will go unresolved. 

Before his stroke Mr. PNU helped me put a name to what he derived from the descriptions of my upbringing: Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. He helped me craft the letter to address a parent's life-long pattern of strangling rule-making and lack of nurture. Our hope was that in speaking openly about the disordered behavior, we might instigate active change in others, instead of passively waiting around for something healthy to rise. 

We waited. The stroke happened. I made contact with the family briefly, but the response there showed that even in crisis, nothing would change. Mr. PNU supported me in asserting that the nature of the problems spelled out in the letter persisted, and that if these were left unaddressed no-contact from my mother was our preference. The result was not just no contact from her, but from all my extended family excluding a random email from one cousin several months ago. My adopted sister continued to make Facebook appearances, but her emotional instability and delusion wasn't worth the sightings, and more often than not triggered my PTSD. I've reflected on the absence of my extended family, and today reached the conclusion that adopting orphaned status is better than holding out in Post-Trauma Land waiting for someone to wander over to help, or maybe call, or perhaps write a thoughtful note: "I realize that your insights ring true. I have done wrong. I am sorry." Mr. PNU agrees. All I can do is let go and grieve, because I have no power to change others and I'm far too healthy and functional to resume the role of the mentally sick daughter who is expected to remain silent in her narrative, yet dutifully present for everyone else. Azazel. It's not enough to hold up a mirror. Sometimes, the kindest thing to do is to let the mirror shatter and simply walk away.

Here, in my desert, water springs from rocks, unconditional love flowers in unlikely clefts. Just beyond Nahal Darga, a wild sea of toadflax and daisy. A carpet of mothering poppies. Ein Gedi. Belonging.

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