My daughter Ann was forty-seven, beautiful, funny, hypersensitive, and creative, and she loved her family, including her extended family. She kept all those who had ever loved her close in her heart of love—which was the reason she tried so hard to remain clean and sober. She didn’t want us to worry or be sad or mad, and she didn’t want to risk to losing any of us if we were to give up on her. She wanted our patience—even as she knew that, despite how much love we held for her, we were worn out. We were all bone-weary. The ghost of addiction was taking its toll.
Archives for February 2012
This is about addiction. Substance abuse is its other name. I know this world well, having been mired in addictions all of my life—either my own or those of others. I am a recovered alcoholic; I’m also certified by Washington State as a substance abuse counselor. I have worked in inpatient and outpatient treatment centers. I have been in private practice for almost thirty years. I know what I’m talking about.
Three of my four fathers were addicts/alcoholics, and one was violent when drinking. My mother was addicted to pills, depressed, and rarely left the couch during my teen years. My gentle stepmother was a late-stage alcoholic, the kind of alcoholic with a bulbous nose and popping veins on her face. My stepbrothers were alcoholics, too; they went in and out of the local jail like kids playing with a revolving door.
There was a haunting scene in the movie, My week with Marilyn which showed a devastated Marilyn having just found Arthur Miller’s notebook where he wrote about his disillusion in their marriage. Mind you, they were still newlyweds. Shortly after her death, and much to the dismay of many critics, portions of that notebook morphed into Miller’s broadway play entitled, After The Fall. A review of the play in The New Haven Register stated, “It’s a universal experience that is significant to us all, that teaches us anew the duality of good and evil in man, that achieves a moving synthesis of truth and beauty.”
The article that I am writing is not about Arthur Miller’s arguable motivations for writing and releasing that play shortly after Marilyn’s death or about her feelings of betrayal. This article is about the making of gods with a small “g.”
“They say you soon forget the bad things in your life, and only remember the good ones. Well, maybe for others it’s that way, but not for me…” Marilyn Monroe
From the research I’ve done on sexual abuse and the life of Marilyn Monroe, I understand that the quote above refers to the abuse that she suffered as a child. However, when speaking about childhood abuse and Marilyn, I am mindful of the difficulties of focusing on any one form of the multiple abuses she endured. She was born out of wedlock─a shameful event in Marilyn’s day─and raised in a series of foster homes. Her mentally ill mother who was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and whom Marilyn feared, occasionally visited her (for the first seven years of her life Marilyn didn’t even know the woman who periodically visited her in her foster home). Her maternal grandmother died in a state hospital laced into a straightjacket.
Considering the innumerable adverse circumstances surrounding her childhood, I think that the camera may have been the only “eyes” where Marilyn felt seen.