Telling Her Story

Day 336…

It is her senior year in high school and her mother has a “nervous breakdown,” a catchall term in the 60’s for who-knows-what.  No one talks about the months her mother spends on the ninth floor of Schumpert Hospital, or how catatonic her mother appears at her senior party compared to other more animated parents.  What has she done to her mother to cause this?  She is the oldest child and only daughter;  surely there was something she could have done  to prevent this.

Years pass.  Her mom remains “fragile” and there is still little conversation about “the condition.”

She completes college, secures a teaching position and finds a husband.  And always, in the back of her mind, the fate of her mother.

Soon she has a child.  A beautiful baby boy.  Her husband files for divorce, the first divorce in her family.  What could she have done to prevent this?  What has she done to cause this?

Fast forward through seven years of single parenting and public school teaching.  She takes a sabbatical, packs up her second grader and they move out of state as she pursues a Ph.D.  Surely no one this involved could fall victim to her mother’s disease.

She chooses a second husband and lets go of writing a dissertation.  She is again teaching in the public schools,  raising her son, and trying harder to hold on to a husband.  She has a second chance.  She will not make the same mistake twice.

Fast forward.  Her son has a difficult first year of college.  They do not talk about it.  A year later he attempts suicide. They try family counseling and later marriage counseling.  She files for a divorce and her son moves to the West Coast.  And always, her mother’s condition in the back of her mind.  “I am not my mother” becomes her mantra.

Six years later her son commits suicide.  What has she done to cause this?  What could she have done to prevent it?

She is in her mother’s catatonic state.  It has been her greatest fear.  She holds on to her pen and talks to herself.  Others cross her path.  She talks with them, as she has been practicing with her pen, trying hard to appear normal.  She writes a book.  She is in the middle of a 21st century nervous breakdown.

Fast forward.  Present day.   An artist call at a local theater for a show to run simultaneously with a production of Vagina Monologues.   She is not a visual artist, but it calls to her.

Her entry…A cutout of a sketch her mother did right before being hospitalized.  And a pen and ink doodle she did the year after her son died.  Two women together having their “nervous breakdowns.”

She creates “art” with her biggest fear.

Writing topic:  Your story

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2 responses to this post.

  1. That’s brave and creative.

    Reply

  2. Posted by mamaquinn on July 29, 2011 at 9:19 pm07

    Laura, you are NOT your mother, you are such a wonderful, unique, beautiful soul and I am so glad your mother brought you in to this world to share with me! 🙂 Love You!!

    Reply

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