Deep dive

I’m in the midst of writing my second book and it’s bringing up some old but heavy shit.

Where the first book was fiction, this one is non-fiction, a journey through care giving a loved one battling cancer.  In examining some of my beliefs and reactions through the process, I’ve gone back to examine how those beliefs and opinions were formed, which takes me back a long ways – to the age of two. I remember as if it were yesterday, a fall foto_westfield_101958_OakAve_Jimmy_front lawnOctober day in 1958.  My father was burning leaves (allowed back then) and Mom was doing whatever she was doing, one of those things being taking pictures of the 23 month old brat sitting on the steps playing with the carved pumpkin and sitting on the lawn watching dad burn leaves.  He wore a black and white plaid peacoat and brown lace up work boots that looked more like army issue that fashionable, utilitarian footwear.

At one point my Mom went back inside and Dad walked back to the garage, out of my sight, to get something.  He wasn’t gone but a minute or two, but I will never forget the feeling of loneliness and abandonment that washed over me, as if some invisible shroud of sadness drifted in and covered me.  Sitting there on the grass between two giant maples, feeling like there was not a soul left in the world. I was two what did I know?  Eventually these feelings would lead to all sorts of nonsense in later years, primarily paralyzing panic attacks that plagued my into adulthood.

I’ve done enough therapy to know where all this comes from and it’s not something I hold on to or get angry about, it’s just an old video tape I can put back on the shelf, realizing that it has no power – that was then, this is now.

This things I do for art’s sake…


1 Comment

Filed under family, life, writing

One response to “Deep dive

  1. It is interesting what may traumatize a kid and leave him scarred for life. What I find fascinating is a person’s earliest memories.

    One of mine was the day Dad took me along on a visit to the hospital when Mom was giving birth to my second brother. I was three at the time. He left me in the car in the parking lot because he said the regulations said no kids in the hospital. Why not? After all, kids came from the hospital… Today, he could face a criminal charge for doing that; but as they say, that was a different time.

    Anyway, he was gone for a long time. I needed to go. I tried to hold it. Still no Dad. I peed my pants. On the front seat of the car. I was not traumatized by this. No excess separation anxiety over this one incident. But I still remember it vividly.

    The only thing close to trauma for me was something Mom often said. She did not want us going outside barefooted, so she would warn, “Go outside in bare feet and dogs will come and lick your feet.” I still went outside without shoes, but I had an abnormal fear of dogs for many years.


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