Ragdoll Redeemed:Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe (excerpts) Chapter 1 cont..

 curtain on stage



When  you are the child of a mother  whose reality is as fragile and easily shattered as were those of our respective mothers, so is your own reality. Thus it was, like many other children with no fathers and minimal mothering, we survived this period, during which numerous  adult authority  figures entered  and exited our lives like so many characters flickering across our life movie screen. And just like the fictional figures in movies, all these people were real only for a brief time before quickly fading out of sight again, always on a stage just beyond reach, devastatingly untouchable. The legacy of untouchable  images; images blowing in the wind like characters traversing a stage, people coming and going in all manner of colorful customs, thus binding our self-images to a life- time of relational uncertainty.

The  fragility of our mothers  and grandmothers passed a pervasive sense of obligation  and bondage  from one generation  to another  at a visceral level, along with many other  twisted traditions  and confused values we were born  into. I didn’t understand until I was much older why we felt so obligated  to our mothers.  There is no greater  wound embedded into the core of a child than to be unloved and/or abandoned by their mother. Dr. David Celani, in his book The Illusion of Love, cites the work of esteemed  psychiatrist  W.R.D  Fairbairn,  who noted  “that abused, neglected,  and abandoned  children  were, paradoxically, more attached  to their  parents  than  were normal  children.”  There should have been loving eyes reflecting  self-worth  back to us when we were infants and young children, but instead there were only eyes of emptiness reflecting the tenuousness  of mental illness.

I think of how my experiences might have been parallel to those of Marilyn Monroe.  How many and which kind of scary eyes did Marilyn have to experience in her beginning and formative years? Certainly she did not have the loving eyes of a father, because hers refused to acknowledge her as his daughter.  Nor  did she have the loving eyes of her mother  or grandmother, for hers were both ravished with mental illnesses, their eyes left with vacancies begotten  and compounded by way of institutionalization.

As widely reported, Marilyn’s mother,  like her mother  before her, was unable  to maintain  employment  due to her  frequent  lapses into mental  illness and  accompanying  “medication.”  And so it was that, including Marilyn, three generations of women in her family were only able to get through the circumstances of their lives in large part because of the drugs they ingested. The drug prescribed for almost any kind of female nervous disorder in those days, with virtually no thought of its misuse or outright abuse, was Valium. I know, because for part of my childhood,  and well into my high school years, my mother  lived in a Valium-induced fog that left me emotionally motherless. In both cases—for Marilyn’s mother and mine—the use of Valium was probably the  only reason  that  someone  didn’t die at their  hands.  My beloved grandmother, herself having been raised in an orphanage,  escaped into a continuous  haze of Kool cigarettes and her religious obsessions.  (P.g. 3-4) To be continued…..


Ragdoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe

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Ragdoll Redeemed (excerpts) Chapter 1
Ragdoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe Chapter 1 continued