The Fugitive

the fugitive2

So that title is a little dramatic.  AGMA hasn’t gotten into any sort of trouble.  

Yet… 

But I AM escaping.

This weekend I’m headed out to Arizona to visit the foster mother of my early childhood.  Jane and her family took me for 18 months when I was 1 1/2 years old to help out my family.  Due to some very nasty circumstances that you really don’t want to hear about, my mother was temporarily out of the picture, and nobody in my immediate family could care for an 18 month old.

Jane was a friend of my mother.  They went to nursing school together and remained close after they each started families.  Jane’s daughters were 8 years old and a 14 years old when I came to live with them.

AGMA has no memories of the 18 months I lived with them, but I know that I received far more love and attention than I would have had I stayed in my home.

That being said, it was a horrible trauma for a 1 1/2 year old to be given to, in her mind, strangers.  I’ve been told that I cried and cried and cried for my “real” family. 

Much like the children who have been separated from their parents and put into cages at the US Southern border.

Science has shown that this type of early childhood trauma actually alters the brain chemistry of the child as they try to cope with what is happening around them. 

Permanently.

This can lead to all kinds of issues from emotional to cognitive to physical to economic.

To add to the trauma circus, AGMA was reunited with my mother when I was 3 years old and removed from Jane’s family.   As part of the nasty circumstances I mentioned earlier, I had not seen my real mother since I was an infant.

So now I was living with another “stranger”.  My mother.

Again, AGMA has no memory of this time.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned this in a previous post when I wrote about Jane, but I remember visiting Jane and her family with my mother when I was older, but I had no idea who they really were.

All I knew is that the always gave me great Christmas presents!

After my mother died in 1965 when I was 11, I went to live my my father and all contact with Jane and family was cut off.

Fast forward to 2012 when Janes youngest daughter “found” me through Hubs online genealogy profile.  They were overjoyed and I was thrilled to find my lost foster family (as an adult, I found out about their existence from my brother.)

AGMA’s been traveling to Arizona every year since then to visit Jane and her daughters.  I wrote about her last year when I went out for her 100th birthday celebration.

Guess what?

Janie’s 101 now!

And she still lives in her own house and still (last I heard) drives her car short distances.

So AGMA’s heading out to Arizona again for a visit with these good people who took me in and selflessly cared for me so many years ago. 

It’s a short trip – only 2 nights – and I’m going solo.  Hubs is staying home to take care of the cats. 

The first half of the trip I’m hanging with Jane & family.

The second night, I booked a room at a posh resort in Scottsdale.

I’m escaping.

For one night, I am going to do exactly what I want to do.  Or not do.

Part of the effects of my early childhood trauma is that AGMA has always been a pleaser. 

When you are “abandoned” by your primary care givers 3 times before the age of 4, a small child’s mind is not able to reason or understand what’s happening.  A small child internalized the fact that people keep leaving them as a sign that they are not lovable, or worthy of love and care, or they have been too naughty.

As the child grows, they think they have to “earn” the love of those close to them by trying to please them and not do anything that could be interpreted as misbehaving.

Hence, AGMA was an obedient, compliant pleaser for years.  

And I’m here to tell you, you can lose yourself in all that obedience and compliance and pleasing.

In the past, I would have never dreamed of bailing on Jane’s family early – I would have felt too guilty.  Or spending money on a one night getaway at a resort by myself, without Hubs “approval”.  And I would have tried to get together with old friends (who are Don the Con supporters – ugh…) from college who live in Phoenix.  Or I would have invited another old friend from Tucson to come up and spend the night with me on my dime.

But then it wouldn’t be a “selfish, only for AGMA” escape.  I’d have other people I’d have to “worry” about.  And please.

When it’s just me, I don’t have to be concerned about making anybody happy but myself.  At least for a night.

Years of therapy and a powerful spirituality journey toward wholeness have helped immensely in breaking old, unhealthy patterns.  

Honestly, I’m still a work in process.

But then aren’t we all?

See you at the pool!

What Would Clarence Do?

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Today is the century anniversary of the birth of my father. 100 years.  Triple digits. January 3, 1914.  MY father.  Granted that he was older when I was born, but still….  Holy cow – a century!!

He journeyed from this world to the next at the beginning of the new millennium.  I’m so thankful that, until he broke his hip and died ten days later, he was relatively healthy, had a sharp, quick mind and memory, and lived independently.

He and his wife moved the two hundred miles in 1991 to relocate to our city, like so many other aging parents, when health issues forced their hand.  My step-mother had Alzheimer’s.  So we lived within 12 miles of each other for the last 9 years of his life.  A chance for redemption I thought.  I was wrong.

My father was not a nice man.  Any relationship he had spoiled like milk soured after not being put back in the fridge before a vacation.  He was simply incapable of loving anybody but himself and left a family of walking wounded in his wake.  My mother, myself and my siblings, our spouses, his grandchildren, his wife – we all bear or bore the scars of his extreme narcissism.

In the very last episode of the 80’s era TV show Dallas, JR was able to see how much better life would have been for most of the people in his life if he had never been born.  The same might be said about my father.  His really, wasn’t a wonderful life.  I wonder how Clarence would’ve handled that one?

So no redemption was found in proximity; in the naive idea that physical closeness would result in everything finally being made right and good and whole.   But it hit me this week – it’s there!  It’s tucked deep down in the DNA helixes passed on.   His children and grandchildren.

Happy 100th Daddy.