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When I wrote my memoir, I prefaced it with a story called Babes in the Wood, a story about two tiny children who were left by ruffians out in the woods to die. I learned to read on this story and others like it; my mother was big on folk tales. The abandonment resonated in me because my mother and her sisters had put 5 of us children into foster care. I’ve thought of the story as a harbinger that my mother unconsciously used to warn me of the dangers I would face, and lately I’ve been revisiting this from the standpoint of a mom.
I have been reading a book on Gestalt psychology, and I am struck by the idea of transactional analysis. I don’t know if I created a steadfast narrative of how life is when I was a child, and I don’t know how much weight I will give this theory. But I think it’s interesting that my earliest memory of reading is of a book about abandonment. And now I wonder what my sons’ narratives are, and how I contributed to them.
I’ve fought all their lives to break the chains of abandonment in our family story. Is Jake’s wandering in the figurative wilderness part of our family narrative?
I’m also reading books about baseball and I’m pretty sure that baseball is saving my sanity.
I went to my very first major league baseball game in April, when the Padres played the Cardinals. Tom, my husband, answered every one of my baffled questions with patience and delight. (I’ve never been interested in baseball, and was only there because I knew how much he would love it. It was the Cards, after all.) I asked about acronyms and stats and weird rules. (Dude. The infield fly?)
It was the infield fly that got me. It sounded like a bizarre rule, and it reminded me of English and how wretched its rules can be. English delights me, so of course baseball would, too. I have to know everything. So: books. heh
So now I’m on a search for my favorite player. Tom wants to get me a jersey, which I have never been remotely attracted to before and now must have. I’m leaning toward Molina, the Cardinals’ catcher. (Has to be Cards; I’m married to a St. Louis guy.)
The stats are my favorite, which is hilarious. Stats=math, and I am accustomed to giving it the stink eye.
So the obsession is engaging a different part of my brain and it helps me not to wallow in grief and fear. I confess, too, that it makes me laugh a little to think of the line, “How ’bout them Dodgers?”
I am always the Princess.
I am Snow White, surfacing from a coma brought on by the apples of knowledge that both my mother and stepmother gave me. I almost want to stop right there and leave it for you to noodle on–but I’d rather root the whole fairy tale up and dump it all in a big pile. Please bear with me while I shovel everything out.
- Apple (knowledge)
- Snow White (Princess)
- Dead mother (abandonment)
- Sleep/coma—->blindness/emotional blindness/denial
Emotional or mental blindness–like hysterical blindness, y’know? Blind like the sailor in Joseph Conrad’s story of the blind captain–the sailor had no idea his captain couldn’t see, and only realized it in a sideways leap of logic when he noticed a pilot fish guiding a whale. (Dr. Stampfl–my former professor– calls that abduction.) The captain was physically blind, but the sailor was mentally blind.
So. Emotional blindness and paralysis are Snow White’s problems. My problems, too, sometimes.
Some’d say this is making a kid’s story too complicated.
I say no.
There’s a reason these stories have survived hundreds of years. They speak to us on some level beyond our ken.
- I welcome your thoughts….