Have you or anyone you know ever found yourself feeling as if you're living from one crisis to another? Does this describe your childhood, or maybe your adult years? When interviewing women for Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers, I was surprised and disheartened to discover how often mother loss was only one in a series of adverse events for many women, and that they felt they'd been shaped for better and for worse by periodic crises which they had no way to anticipate and therefore no way to prepare.
I've been thinking about this for a long time, because this was very much my story after my mother died. For the next 23 years I had a deeply kind and well-meaning father who also drank heavily and was prone to intermittent breakdowns related to the alcohol and the toll it took on his health. The pattern of leapfrogging from one difficult event to another, and feeling that my life could only be enjoyed in between his exclamation points, came to characterize my adult life. After he died six years ago it took a long time for me to release the feeling that the next crisis was somewhere around the next corner, just waiting to erupt.
I imagine this must be the case for many of us with loved ones who suffer from addictions, chronic health problems, mental illness, eating disorders, or just garden-variety difficult behavior. (And very possibly other conditions. Please feel free to chime in.) Also, those of us who have protracted strings of just really bad luck.
My belief is that children raised in these kind of environments (as many motherless daughters are) get wired in a very specific way that in part determines their behavior patterns in adulthood, and also that adults who encounter such situations later in life (through marriage, parenthood, or other relationships) have to develop their own strategies to find fulfillment in between the episodes. And yet I've also met many women who have been able to transcend this and live happy, fulfilling lives not just in spite of, but sometimes because of, the exclamation points pushed into their paths.
I'm wondering if this might be a worthy topic for a future book. What do you think? And if this sounds familiar to anyone, and you'd be willing to share your story, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Confidentiality and anonymity assured.