by Elaine Miller
During the years, I had read everything I could get my hands on of the paranormal, psychology, intuition, reincarnation and spirituality. I was deeply embroiled in the Al-Anon literature and adult children books. I watched the PBS network whenever they had anyone giving lectures on any of those subjects. The terms dysfunctional family structure, alcoholic family system, children and grandchildren being "adult children" of these systems were all things I could relate to. I came to understand that the dynamics of these systems affected every person in the family. I continued with the groups and reading. The systems went back for generations.
I learned the three Cís of the dysfunctional family system; compete, compare and criticize. I thought back and could see all of it in my biological family, the families my parents came from and my own family now. I blamed myself a lot for the things that I had done to wound my children. I had a lot of unresolved issues with my own mother and the way she had treated me. I slowly began to understand that we were all immersed in the system.
The entire time, I was still trying to figure out why? with regards to what happened to Mary. What was the point of it? What was my goal in life? I was happy with my life with Don, but the rest of my life was in turmoil much of the time. How do you really find happiness? I thought if others around me would stop messing up, which affected my life, then everything would be all right and I could be happy. In other words my happiness and worth depended entirely on the actions and interactions of everyone else around me. I was codependent. I thought and pondered everything for hours when I was up in the art room.
I had decided I wanted to paint after I was married to Don. He did not criticize any of my new endeavors. I had drawn and sketched and sewed all my life. I taught myself to sew by watching another girl sew, observing her short cuts and asking her help when necessary. My sewing got serious when I was first married to Brett. Daddy bought me a brand new Necchi for my birthday in June, when I was pregnant with Mary. I soon learned to sew for money. I did alterations and then made garments for people. I made many of my own clothes and my girls clothes. When my son was little I made some little outfits for him. He was my first born.
I hooked up with a friend who told me of a gal who taught painting out of her home. I was off and running. I took lessons from two other self-taught artists. I joined the art league. I got an honorable mention on one of my paintings years ago. Recently I got a second on a painting in a show. I played around in all the medias. My favorite now is inks and watercolors.
I bought spiritual and inspirational tapes by well-known lecturers from across the country. I listened while I painted. I soaked up knowledge seeking the answers to questions I so wanted to know. I also took up folk art painting on wood. I combined some fine art scenes and put them on wood. I sold some of my work. I went two weekends a year to a scenic drive craft fair. I made money. I bought two new sewing machines with it. I bought Don a large band saw and other tools. I had an outlet for some of my frustrations. I loved to paint and sew and didnít know how anyone else lived without creating.
Some of my anger and rage seemed to be subsiding a little. We were involved with the new age group once a month that gave programs on philosophical and spiritual topics. I really enjoyed my friends there and the subjects. We were introduced to "The Course of Miracles." I got really excited and started attending some of the meetings to study the course. It was a lengthy study regarding philosophies of Jesus and the teachings that he had really wanted the people to understand. This is an in depth study. I bought the tapes and the book. I did not always get a chance to go. I have not studied it like I would like to.
The one thing that struck me with Al-Anon, adult children and the Course of Miracles, was the theme of forgiving and love. Everything I read had the same philosophy. My church had always taught that. There are really only two emotions, love and fear. Anger is a subtitle of fear. There is only a very thin line between love and hate. The other theme was love. Everyone on earth right now is here to learn love for each other.
Reincarnation was removed from the Bible in about 353 AD. Jesus law of love "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," has more of a meaning than anyone realizes. The other biblical saying of "what you sow; so shall you reap," is very important. Both of these things have to do with reincarnation. If people really understood the significance of these two laws of the universe, there would be no wars, no murders, no fighting, and no plotting of revenge.
I believe in reincarnation. The entire concept made sense to me. My mother was totally opposed to the idea. She said this life time was hard enough for her and she sure didnít want to come back. I started to think of people as coming here for life lessons and working things through. I slowly came to realize that the negative thoughts and wishes sent out into the universe by peoplesí thought waves or conversations brought negative things back to the person thinking these thoughts. In other words if I always thought that nothing good would happen to me, then nothing would. Itís like looking up and reflecting a thought into a mirror high above you. The mirror reflects back your thought to you, so you are making your own reality.
The law of the universe regarding revenge is the law of karma. If you hurt someone else, you in turn are reflecting that same negative pain back onto yourself. Someone sooner or later will hurt you. What goes around comes around. That is a law. It just is. You donít have to believe in reincarnation for the lawsí of the universe to apply. They apply to everyone on earth.
I never understood the concept that everyone was created equal. Finally I understood. I had to pretend I was in spirit, looking from another level at everyone on this level. If I looked like I was looking down, it looked like tiny beings all scurrying around . I saw no classes of people, no difference in color. They all looked the same. All were just human beings. I realized that each person was just trying to get through this lifetime the best way and only way they knew how. No one was any different than anyone else. Everyone had their life path and their own destiny.
I studied the concepts of the Course in Miracles as compared to the Al-anon steps, traditions, and slogans of Al-Anon. They were alike. They were trying to get across the very same things. Al-Anon is primarily stated in a more simplified manner than The Course of Miracles.
A friend gave me a copy of an article that someone had written comparing just that. I was asked to give a talk with the comparisons to the new age group. I prepared, took notes and wrote out an outline for my speech. I was really excited. I made a black and while outfit to wear to emphasize my talk.
People in dysfunctional families think in terms of black or white and in absolutes. I decided it would bring a little creative slant to giving a talk. I was also into ceramics and making some of my own jewelry then. I made a real arty huge ceramic, glazed necklace to wear to match. I gave my speech. Everyone seemed to like it. They gave me positive feedback. The next month when we went there for a program, a woman came up to me and told me my speech had had a profound influence on her thinking and her life. She told me she was grateful. I felt humbled that someone felt that way about my beliefs and that my talk had meant that much to her.
Many of the things that I just knew were right for me went against many of the teachings of my church or conventional religion that I had been taught. Our church had been a little more liberal and didnít carry on about hell or the devil. They had mostly dwelled upon uplifting the soul with preaching positive teachings. It still opposed many of my beliefs. I couldnít help it. I felt badly that they could not get out of set patterns and at least look at expanding their boundaries of beliefs. My mother did not believe as I did. She used to tell me that she tried hard with me, to make me into a lady (she said she failed) and to instill lasting religious beliefs. I went right on with my quest. I even took her with me to Al-Anon meetings and to new age meetings. She was resolute in her belief systems and could not even ponder anything else. She was afraid of change.
It took me until I was in my fifties to realize that you have to allow people to be where they are in their beliefs and lives. If they like hell, fire and brimstone, then that is where they are in their evolvement.
Mary liked ritual and repetitive ceremony. Later after college she joined the Catholic Church. I did not care. I had friends who were not involved in the new age group and who did not believe in reincarnation. Everyone was and is in his own evolvement. They did not try to convince me of their beliefs and I did not try to change them. We accepted each other as we were. Religion and spirituality are personal aspects of a personís life. I believed in showing people by the way I lived my life, not trying to change them to my way of thinking.
Mary continued to live by herself. I didnít have to know whom she was with, what she was doing or how long she was gone. I knew she was surviving because of the frequency of her daily calls. I didnít worry as much. I wasnít as frustrated. I had taken Mary to Planned Parenthood and gotten her on contraceptives long before. The trouble with Mary was that she forgot to take them or didnít want to take them. When Mary was twenty-five years old, she became pregnant. I told her the alternatives, but she wanted to have her baby. We got her an O.B. doctor and she did everything she was supposed to do. She stopped dating, stopped smoking and drinking. She became placid and peaceful. She came over every day and we did more things together. We traipsed around every week to garage sales. We really got into finding things for her baby. I really was excited and so was Mary. She really wanted this baby. Down deep inside I knew that we would have to help her raise this child. I knew she couldnít do it herself. But she was so much better.
Several times during her pregnancy she had sonograms to see what her child would be, but the baby was always turned wrong. She was still in her upstairs one room apartment. Her sister was living in the downstairs apartment. Marie had gotten married to Bill and they lived there a short time, until Marieís best friend Cindy convinced them to move to Kansas. She told Bill that there was a lot of work there. He was having trouble finding work as he had just gotten out of the service when he met and married Marie. They moved to Kansas. I was devastated. I was so close to Marie and I really didnít want her to leave this area. I hid the poem "Footprints in the Sand" that was decoupage'd onto a block of wood, into her things and later when she found it, she called me and we both cried. She called me several times a week while she lived there.
Marie is small and short. She gained a lot of weight with her pregnancy. It didnít seem to concern the doctor. She would go to church every Sunday and sit with my parents at the Presbyterian Church. One day Mom told her after she was beginning to show, that she did not want her sitting with them because it was too embarrassing since Mary was not married. I was just furious at my mother. I never really forgave her for that. It was one of the most insensitive and selfish acts I had ever seen my mother do. Mom went to church every Sunday and read her Bible every night before she went to bed. That was an unchristian thing to do. She called herself religious. She had preached the golden rule to me ever since I could remember. My mother ruled her life with the principle of "what will everyone think." She feared how everyone viewed her more than any of the religious concepts she believed in and preached to us. That is when Mary decided that she would become a Catholic and she did.
She enjoyed the Catholic Church. She loved the sermons the priest gave. Everyone in the church was sweet and kind to her. There was a Sister there who used to call Marie sometimes to see how she was, if she missed a week of not attending. The one thing I can say about the Catholic Church and their people is that they are like family to each other and they take care of their own.
When Marie and Bill moved out of the bigger downstairs apartment the landlord agreed to let Mary move downstairs. We moved her things and her furniture down. I helped her to settle in. Her pregnancy was well advanced before she actually lived in the downstairs apartment. I had her pack her suitcase and come home to live until after the baby came. She seemed to be less frightened and alone. As long as Marie had lived downstairs, Mary felt more secure on her own than she ever had before.
By that time, I had bought new things and garage sale items for the baby. I bought two cribs, one for her and one for me. I had made nice big receiving blankets too. Everything was progressing normally. We became more and more excited. Finally one evening she went into labor. She lay on the couch most of the night and I cat napped. At four a.m. her water broke. She had already had her little bag packed. I took her to the hospital. They settled her in, started an IV and placed the fetal monitor in place. They finally put in an epidural block. She was dilated two centimeters and she labored all day long with no further dilating. The nurses said the babyís head would not engage or come down into the birth canal. They gave her an IV drug to see if they could make the contractions harder. Nothing seemed to work. I stayed with her and worked on a pen and ink drawing. I needed to keep busy, as it was difficult to wait.
Later I had to leave for awhile and go down to the shop to do payroll. I did that every Friday. I also paid bills every Friday. I was still doing all the bookkeeping, and payroll. I could hardly sit still long enough to get done. I went back up to the hospital a little after five p.m. There was still no progress. The doctor came in and I told him I was little like her and almost had to have cesareans. The only reason I didnít have cesareans was because my babies were all very small. Maryís baby was big. The doctor said heíd go ahead and take the baby right now. It took a good half-hour to get Mary prepared. They had to give her more epidural block so that she could be awake and not feel it. I was allowed to go in with her. I was terribly excited.
They wheeled Mary into the delivery room and got her all set up. I stood at the head of the gurney and watched. They made the first cut. They reached in and pulled the baby out. It was a boy! He was just beautiful. His head was molded into a slight pear shape, where he had been too big to get down into her cervix, which had caused her to not dilate. I knew his head would be back to normal by morning. They suctioned him and he bellowed loudly. They cut the cord, wrapped him up and put a little blue and white stocking cap on his head. He was very well filled out. He was born big! They put him into my arms. He stopped crying and I leaned over and showed him to Mary. She had an awed look on her face. She said he was beautiful. I held him while they stitched her up. He stared at me with huge blue eyes. They were a deep sapphire. He had long fringed dark lashes and a wad of dark hair. His hands had long slender fingers. He looked like he was studying me. I talked softly to him and told him I was his Granny. I told him I was glad he had come into our family. I told him how beautiful he was. I was ecstatic. He was born November 21, 1986.
They wheeled Mary to recovery and I followed the baby to the nursery. He weighed in at eight pounds thirteen and a half ounces. No wonder his Mom couldnít have him naturally. Later when she was in her room I asked her what she was going to name him. She had been mulling over several names. She said he looked like a Sean, so that was what she was going to name him. She also decided that she wanted to nurse him. She was successful with that too.
In prenatal classes that we had attended together, they had encouraged nursing your baby. I had nursed my babies too. I had nursed her eleven months because she had milk intolerance and had a lot of problems with digestion until she was over a year old. She and I had taken the Lamaze classes too in case she had a normal delivery.
Mary and the baby did very well in the hospital. Mary was up running all over by the next morning. She didnít even need much for pain. She ran down to the nursery and looked at her baby many times a day in between feedings. She returned home with us after three days. Later she told me that she wanted her own child so that she could have someone that she could love that was hers. I felt so bad for her that I wanted to cry. She felt so alone and that she didnít have a close relationship with a significant other.
Before Mary had gotten pregnant, my nephew Dan had gotten married. We were invited to his wedding. It was a large wedding. We all went to the wedding and the reception. They had a band at the reception. They came to the part where they drink champagne from each otherís glass and fed each other a bite of cake then danced. Marie, Mary and I were watching. I glanced over at the girls and Mary was sitting there with tears rolling unchecked down her face. She was sitting directly behind me. I turned my chair around and took her hand in mine. I quietly asked her what was wrong. She said, "it will never be me." I was heart broken. I got tears in my eyes and the lump in my throat. We all got up and made our excuses and left. I could barely stand her pain. Many times when she was in emotional pain, it would affect me as if it was happening to me.
There was nothing to say. I tried to tell her that one of these days she would meet someone, but in my heart, I wondered. So far the only thing men wanted out of her was sex. Of course, she came onto men in that manner too. Her sister and I tried to tell her to use a more subtle approach, but she knew that her way was one that would get men to pay attention to her. I was so sad.