SUMMER, 1952. Hot, dry, and windy. Tumbleweeds blew everywhere. I obsessed about them. I hated them. They were the reason my life was ugly. That I was ugly. The tinder-dry conditions of a vacant field filled with tumbleweeds was perfect for my plan. Just one match from the small matchbook hidden inside the back pocket of my scruffy navy blue pedal pushers, coupled with my seven-year-old rage—rage that was large enough for another Hiroshima—was all that was needed to eliminate the tumbleweeds, the source of my pain. I was sure of it.
Archives for August 2013
The only thing that made those weekend visits to my dad’s bearable was a neighbor’s filthy old horse named Dolly. I thought her to be very sad, and she was horribly swaybacked, but somehow we understood each other intimately. Dolly allowed me to climb up onto her weary, old, bare back, where I would slide down to the lowest part to feel cradled. She and I, ever so slowly, would walk way out into the big pasture, where we would daydream our way through the day. Sometimes I would cry into her matted mane while she nuzzled my neck. I always brought Dolly any carrots I could find when scavenging in the dumpsters. Like the big old eucalyptus trees and broken dolls I befriended, Dolly never cared about my filthy feet or matted hair. We became good friends over the three years I was forced to go to that wretched trailer.
At the same time, I felt her kindness and desire to please me. Vi lovingly made my favorite food, mashed potatoes with mounds of butter on top. The mixed feelings I experienced toward her added to my confusion toward adults in general. It seemed impossible to make sense out of their behavior. I overwhelmingly preferred solitude, a trait deeply embedded in me to this day and only overcome with effort.
For a while, Howard co-habitated contentedly with his new wife and her near-adult, parasitic sons. I hated my new stepbrothers, who were in their late teens. Their lives centered on continuous beer consumption. The dilapidated trailer, with its taped up windows, reeked like a sleazy tavern, forever forming a mental image of what “trailer trash” would be.
PEERING DOWN FROM the rugged granite mountain ridges some twenty miles north of the Mexican border and seventeen miles east of the Pacific Ocean, one can only guess at the breathlessness of the early mission padres seeing the basin below. They named the valley El Cajon. The name means “the big box” because that is how the flat valley floor seemed. The eventual agrarian heartland would prove a perfect support for citrus, avocados, grapes and barley. It was near these foothills that I learned to love solitude and an old horse named Dolly, and to devour mounds of mashed potatoes. It was also where I learned to hate tumbleweeds, tarantulas, and the effects of alcohol.
The family composition shifted when I turned seven and my big brother was eleven. Mother, hospitalized for several weeks with complications from jaundice, followed by months of bed rest, presented the opportunity for Howard to find himself a new woman. Even before the divorce papers were filed, he was gone.
“Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?” NSR: 4 James 4:1
James “war within” can be referred to as multiplicity of mind in the IFS model meaning that we each carry different memories, diverse values and beliefs which are expressed through unique wants and needs. Oftentimes these internal aspects are in conflict with each other. For example, we may despise our boss but also crave his/her approval. Bank and forth, back and forth our mind go’s between feelings of scorn and the need for recognition evoking sleepless nights and frustration with our thoughts and our needs.
Consistent with my blog, The Faces we Live, the stories that I write are about the myriad of roles/parts/sub-personalities or shadow sides that constitute the makeup of beings. Values, beliefs, feelings, behaviors, roles all contribute to the overall makeup of an individual.