Monday, March 07, 2011

A Soreness in My Heart

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored." As always, a pleasure.

My daughter The Heir is home on spring break. She loves to rummage. Since our home's crawlspace is in her room, she dug in there and found some stuff I didn't know I had.

When my sister moved from West Virginia to Maryland, she gave me a bunch of junk  that I just stashed upstairs. Heir went through it and found a bundle of letters written by my mother back in the late 1970s.

The letters begin in the spring of 1977 and run until late autumn 1978. My mother wrote them to a therapist she saw at that time. He must have returned them to her in bulk, either at her request or on his own initiative. The envelopes are there, and they're postmarked, and they are not stamped "return to sender," so I assume that the therapist at least opened them. Whether he read them or not I cannot surmise.

My mother suffered terribly from bipolar disorder, and these letters are a classic study of the illness. However, even looking at them is a painful ordeal for me. There are 76 letters in the bag, all of them hand-written, all of them at least three pages, some more. Through the summer of 1977 she wrote to him about three times a week.

I took the letters to my personal haven, the laundromat. While my towels were spinning, I perused them. I had a decision to make: leave them in the laundromat trash can, or bring them home for future generations. They are, after all, primary source material on a mental condition that can be inherited.

I brought them home. They will go back into the crawlspace. But with them I must place a narrative document that will explain their provenance. This will not be easy to write.

I'm wondering what planet is in retrograde, because this is shaping up to be a very difficult week indeed.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I would definitely keep them too. There is such a stigma around bipolar...hopefully your narrative will be able to dispel some of that.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Wishing you strength and peace of mind.

alex Pendragon said...

I can relate, Anne. Peace to you.


chin up....tits out..

Davo said...

KEEP THOSE LETTERS! Preserve them, dunk 'em in aspic or amber .. whatever.

i have only three handwritten letters to my mother from a father i never knew.

Too much, these days, is "Lost in Cyberspace".

Blade & Cauldron said...

Oh Anne .... hugs

They can't have been easy to read. I can understand your temptation to leave them behind in the trash. But, as the mother of a child with probable borderline personality disorder I am glad you kept them.

May you never need to refer to them for any practical application.


Mama Kelly

Intense Guy said...

As hard as those letters were to "digest"... perhaps there was something in them that helped you, in some small way, understand what your mother was going through and to accept the "hell" she lived in. I'm glad you will put them back in the crawlspace - with your own note to ...the future.