KATE'S JOURNAL, ENTRY 1
Our life stories are significant. Our stories speak to the passage we have taken to get us to where we are at this very moment. Our stories are footprints on our soul, forever there, never forgotten. My story has many intervals; some are burdened with pain and sorrow and others are bursting with joy and peace. Before I begin to tell you my story, I need to begin at the end.
On July 24, 2017, at the age of 63, we lost my mom after a very short battle with cancer. I was 45 years old.
My mother had spent the last 13 years of her life living her best authentic life. She was courageous, she was resilient, she was a warrior, she was a survivor, and she was my hero.
We did not begin here. My mom and I had a very estranged relationship for the first 33 years of my life. My mom fought hard to be that genuine person, and it was in watching her become this amazing version of herself later in life that I was able to forgive my mom for the pain and anguish I experienced throughout both my childhood and adult life under the influence of her illness.
My mother suffered a childhood trauma by family members who should have been protecting her, not abusing her. This unspeakable trauma set in motion decades of agony and grief across generations. It took until my mother was 50 years old, facing a future without her daughters and grandchildren, that my mother finally got the help she so desperately needed. This gave us 13 beautiful years of watching our mother grow into an amazing and graceful Grama. For this, my heart will be forever grateful and complete with joyfulness.
The stories I will share will take you into the darkness of mental illness. You will get a glimpse of the impact this disease has on loved ones, the trauma we endure, the pain and suffering we experience, and our own conflicting battles to survive and to support our loved one fraught with Mental Illness.
My mother spent the first 50 years of her life undiagnosed, self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, chasing her demons, and self-destructing. My mother never apologized for the emotional and physical pain I endured and for the longest time I thought I needed that to heal... but I didn’t. Little by little I healed the broken child, the misdirected teenager, and the angry adult. I learned and helped my mom to learn that the Trauma that happens to us is not our fault, but our RECOVERY IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY.
There are great days, even better than great days, and then there are the dark days triggered by the trauma, but it is important to remind yourself you have been here before. You survived it, you are resilient, and YOU GOT THIS!!!! This is Recovery.
Journal Entry 1
My first memory of feeling something was not right, that this was not what normal was, happened when I was 8 years old. At the time we were living out West, it was the early 80’s. I was the oldest of 4; my two sisters ages 4 and 1, and my foster brother who was 6 and had Autism with a developmental disability. We were alone and isolated living with our mother at a house in the country. My Dad worked on the Rigs and was barely home, the closest family was 3 hours away.
When I think of that time, I feel such an overwhelming sense of despondency, but more than that, it was gut-wrenching fear. It was commonplace for my mother to wake us all during the dark of night, put us in the vehicle and drive, drive to sometimes nowhere and no place but darkness. We would spend the night in the vehicle on the side of the road, only to return home the next day. There were times I would wake in the middle of the night to the cries of my baby sister not able to find my mom anywhere in the house, she had left, only to return the next morning, trying to make me believe I had dreamed it all, that it never happened.
I became the parent providing comfort and support to my siblings; whether it be cuddling and soothing my baby sister in the dead of night, or helping my foster brother get ready in the morning because it made my mom so angry that he was so slow. I was 8 years old, and these are my first memories of living with a Mom with Mental Illness and Addiction.
What follows is 40 years of coping and enduring some shocking experiences.
I look forward to sharing my story, not to put the spotlight on my Mom, but in hope that it will help you know you are not alone, that it does get better, and that you have support.