Sunday, June 22, 2008


I've blathered on and on before how I'm part of a huge family, tiny immediate family, but big ol' extended family. My mom had six brothers and one sister, and that is important to the story. My mom was BETWEEN the six boys, right in the very middle, and let's just say, she has "issues around that."

Yesterday I got to have lunch with a cousin of mine, one of the "older boys'" daughters. She lives out here in Central Oregon, and we got to dine while looking at rim rock and miles and miles of beautiful God's country. The food was excellent, but the conversation was even better.

Throughout the conversation I kept thinking to myself, "So! THIS is who I'm like!" I love all my cousins, they are amazing, but I'm not like them. My astrologer said I often feel displaced in time, and that is so true. Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks about the misplaced zygote (I don't remember her exact term, so don't quote me on that one), but basically she talks about those of us that grow up feeling, "How in the hell did I end up in this family, who ARE these people, and where are MINE?" Turns out I am in the right family tree, just not on the right branch. That's OK, I can scoot.

So my cousin, Mary, and I were talking about our lives, our childhood, our parents as siblings, our upbringing, theirs, etc., and I told her the story of how my mom had had our portrait taken, just her, my brother and me, right after the divorce, as a symbol of our new "family." Almost immediately she remarried, and one of the first things her new husband did was take that very portrait and have my brother and me PAINTED OUT. He literally chopped us out of the picture, then what parts still touched my mom, he painted over them. Then he framed the picture and put it on his desk. For years that picture sat there. I clearly remember saying to my mom at 14, "I'm no psychiatrist, but isn't that a bad sign?"

She didn't seem to think so, evidently.

The fact that he was a diagnosed, but unmedicated manic-depressive, (that's what it was called in 1977) chain-smoking whack job didn't seem to concern her, either.

Both of Mary's parents are dead, and we talked about how we feel close to our deceased parents, and with the years since their deaths, the peace and change of perspective that has come.

"I am becoming less compassionate towards my mom, instead of more so. I'm doing something wrong here," I confessed. "And frankly? I don't see this story turning around in this lifetime."

Mary didn't either.

And so I scoot, and prune, move and adjust, shift and realign with the tree of life, my family.


Anonymous said...

You have roots.

La La said...

OMG, this story is amazing! It probably doesn't seem possible that it's universal in nature b/c it's so unique in many ways! But OMG, I can TOTALLY RELATE!


love you.

MY OWN WOMAN... said...

Thanks for sharing your story. At 14, I'm not so sure I'd have been as... ummm...understanding as you were with being cut out of a family picture; but then, hey.... I'm willing to cut my "siblings" out of my life so who am I to say?

Michelle O'Neil said...

OMG! Sweet little Carrie! Look at you! How anyone could want to erase those two beautiful faces is beyond me.

And I will never, EVER, understand how a woman could choose a man over her own children. Never.


courtneywrites said...

Carrie, I'm speechless . . .

mamatulip said...

Wow. What a gripping post.

And - you still have the same smile.

Eileen said...

Scoot, prune and adjust until you get to the branch with the family members that make you feel safe and loved for being you. You totally deserve it.

Painting out you and your brother? He was very, very disturbed and as a child it must have been so scary. It makes me so mad that adult choose to live a certain way or with a certain person, but the kids have no choice. How we get past the choices our own parents made will always be the million dollar question.

Love and more love.

La La said...

Maybe we can just create our own family tree of bloggers who are like minded and have similar souls, then we can BELONG together.

Couldn't sleep. Kept thinking about how you and your brother got painted out of that photo. Kept thinking about how our mothers sacrificed us to MEN, thinking that they NEEDED them at all cost, even at the expensive price of traumatizing their children.

Sending you love and lots of gratefulness for being brave enough to share your heart with us here.

Jerri said...

Like Michelle, I cannot understand why any woman would choose a man over her children. Ever. Ever. Ever.

Fabulous post.

Deb said...

Compassion is just hard, hard work. I keep waiting for it to get easier but it never does.

And yeah, your stepfather sounds like a whack job.

Drama Mama said...

My mother's lover molested me.

She chose him over me.

I can't tell you how it warped my thinking, and could have potentially crippled my life. I have no shame, other than for my mother.

Please publish your book so that you can help more people like me. Like us.

And prune, cut, do whatever you need to do. It's your garden.

Retiredandcrazy said...

I always had a problem with my sister. She seemed to have an irrational hate towards me and nothing I could do seemed to help. I was guilt ridden about it until someone told me that you can choose your friends, but not your relatives and that I should let go of my anxiety about this situation. It was not of my making and not of my solving. That helped me a lot. I don't know why I told you this because compared to your story it's trivial. Sorry.

holly said...

ditto, michelle!


Jess said...

Yup, that step-dad sounds crazy..

I LOVE that picture of you. So cute.

And, thank god for cousins!!

Amber said...

Honestly, that is amazing to me. As a mother, no way IN HELL would I have let that happen. Wow. I am so sorry. ((hug)) You have a perfect right to your feelings.