It was less than a year & the excitement for my new life had fizzled away almost completely. I tried desperately to live "normally" within myself, to ignore the tug & pull of chaos that came from with in me. I had this inability to sail the calm waters life often offered to me, instead I actually chose to make my owns waves. My decisions were radical and always irrational. I did not think anything through in a rational sense, patiently waiting for the answers to come to me was never an option that I recognized. I had become a master manipulator of my own mind.
My mind became my prison, keeping me bombarded with the echo of my ego ranting on about the past, making plans for the future, excuses for my behavior, and abusing me whenever life became too quiet to keep me occupied & distracted. I truly believe during this time in my life I invented "creative chaos" in reality so I did not have to listen to the life my mind was constructing. Believe me it is a hard concept to twist yourself around, but it was a coping mechanism I had developed to survive the dark places of my mind. Now if I had understood this then as deeply as I do now, I would not have a story to tell. I would have gone to a miracle shrink and lived happily ever after, maybe anyway, but life just doesn't always work out so easily.
Now I understand that I had many opportunities to ask for help, but in my own mind I was surviving & I saw myself as successful. I had developed classic personality traits that I had always despised about my mother; control and manipulation. I had not yet mastered these traits with in the world that surrounded me but I had already been using them on myself. I felt triumphant because I had left to start this new wonderful life, I was not an addict of any kind, & my child seemed healthy to me, of course the only comparison I had was my own childhood, so there was no convincing me that I needed help. I felt healthy, of course during this time in my life I was not acknowledging that I did not know what healthy was.
As you can imagine, in the midst of all this chaos, my daughter stood barely visual with in the fog. I was almost an empty shell of a mother, tending to my daughter's needs physically but hardly nurturing her emotionally. I had checked out, but my body was still there.
There were times within the chaos that I believe I must have been aware of my unwavering need for a rational change here and there, like a piece of myself was strong enough to keep me from completely drowning. I found a life line in pursuing a better life for me and my daughter, as my marriage crumbled & less then a year after we left California I enlisted in the US Army. I had enlisted in May of 1996 & had only left home in February. The worst part of enlisting for me was the delayed entry program. I had far too many months to fill with chaos, I was scheduled to leave in October.
During that short time I had hardly remained in contact with my family. Every call I had with my mother was filled with disappointment, it had become a game of who could make the other feel the most pain. My mother continued to spiral into her drug addiction, and I had become to aware of it for her to continue lying to me the way she did when I was only a child. This would begin a run of many years where I severed contact with my mother completely.
I would fill the waiting months with even more self destructive behavior. I did not love myself enough to focus on the new development of possibilities, instead I gave myself away again and again. Looking for love in all the wrong places, and giving my ego even more ammo to abuse me with. This shame would prove to be the most paralyzing to me in the years ahead. It was like a cat and mouse game, the more I abused myself in regards to giving myself away, well the more I gave myself away. I have never been able to rationalize this behavior, not even today, it is something I just had to learn to forgive myself for & let it go. I think it is one of those chapters in life's little journey that either a woman understands and can relate too, or one that she can not fathom in any sense. I have become the woman who can not fathom it. But I know I was a woman who once searched for it, seeking those few minutes when you felt powerful because someone longed for you in ways that even you could not even long for yourself. Just like all unauthentic power, it would quickly dissolve into despair and desperation leaving me alone once again to face the demons that I had now begun to feed. During this time I would like to say I could not look at myself in the mirror, but that would not be true. I could stand completely confident staring at my reflection because I chose what I wanted to see, lying to myself was becoming very easy for me.
It is quite ironic that I joined the service. Already poised to battle the world for a more meaningful purpose, I was about to be trained to fight for my country. A soldier of my youth being trained to become a soldier for my country. This would prove to be one of the best decisions for the future, but would leave scars and bruises for a daughter who was in need of a devoted mother. The short time I trained in basic, was a very long time for my daughter to be without her mother.
(More to come...)