I was the 4th child born into a pretty dysfunctional family in the early 1950s. Pretty interesting parents! Dad a bomber for the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) during WWII (& later a pilot for Trans Canada Airlines, which eventually became Air Canada). & who, btw, took part in the bombing of the stunningly beautiful city of Dresden during the war. Yikes. Holy cow & holy shit (to put it mildly). Mom meanwhile an R.N. (Registered Nurse) who grew up in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan - trained as a nurse with the Grey Nuns in Regina (Sask.) Both became alcoholics along the way. Bless them both! Life is complicated…….. isn’t it??? (It really, really is.)
Turns out my three siblings & I are pretty much a classic example of the offspring of alcoholics. I read a book about this – The Opposite of Everything is True – Reflections on Denial in Alcoholic Families, by William H. Crisman. It’s actually pretty amazing how textbook we are! ** I can’t find a review that really does this book justice. For me, it was super-enlightening.
My parents divorced (not soon enough for me! The marriage was a hot mess, as the expression goes). I went off to university. Met a nice man. Got married. Did “career” stuff for a few years. Then, a long pause from “career” to have two children, stay home with them (a very sort of frowned-upon thing to do, in that particular era), & launch gradually into what became a pretty wide-ranging variety of community work leading ultimately to a career of environmental activism … with time in there for the marriage to break down & come to a pretty abrupt end.
Oops!! That was definitely NOT what I’d had in mind for my life!
I was pretty much ass-over-teakettle for a while there – devastated, gobsmacked & heartbroken. It felt as though I’d been put through a freaking meat-grinder! Truthfully, this life development was my personal “This changes everything” moment. It changed me not just as a person, but as a mother. It knocked me sideways, & given the joint custody deal that was decided upon, threw me off-centre – a loss of equilibrium (as a mother, I mean) that from my point of view, has never really sorted itself out.
My ex-husband & I were not ever, I suppose, destined to remain together for the long-term. (We are not just not from the same planet, I’ve come to think, but from opposite ends of different galaxies! Though this was clearly not always the case.) Still. It blew apart so fast that I don’t think we really gave it much of a shot (& all this with two young teen-agers who were utterly unprepared for the bomb that went off in my/their lives).
But hey!! Life moves inexorably forward, not back.
Much growth ensued for me. My wholesale plunge into environmental activism led me not just to “jobs,” but really, a life.
Other relationships happened. (Quite a bit of drama in there at times, along with quite a bit of fun!) Nothing lasting. Different living arrangements & locations & a surprising return to city life kind of late in the game.
& that’s about it!
All of it a simply marvellous crop of fertilizer for personal growth. Both big picture & little picture bits of it. (“The personal is political,” as “they” always say, hmmmm??)
The mixed-up family (& inevitable attendant neuroses). The growth of feminism. Dawning insights about patriarchy … for me, for so many. About capitalism, & the corporations that rape, pillage, & never-ever-ever have to say they’re sorry (or take responsibility … or make amends … pay reparations, etc. Although hey! Lately we’re seeing Monsanto get raked over the coals in the courts, & isn’t THAT a very fine thing to see!)
All along the way for me, the growth of so many wonderful friendships/relationships.
It’s all been quite a slice!
It’s still quite a slice!
Throughout, for me personally, has been much love – passion for justice – & for sanity – for protecting the Earth & all us critters in the great big Earth family to which we belong. Lots of work. Lots of friendships. Many protests, a ton of work … even a couple of arrests. Lots & lots of fun & solidarity! Tons of writing. Never quite as many canoe trips as I’d like!!!
Not a freaking one!
p.s. this is my story. On a different day, in a different mood, I’d likely tell it differently. It might morph a bit. Stories are like that.
p.p.s. oh my goodness how much I’ve left out! OMG. This is sooooo bare bones……….
p.p.p.s. here is my dill pickle story!
p.p.p.p.s. what’s your story?
p.s. #5: I’ve left out everything about what I’ve spent my life doing! I developed a “save the world” complex as a teen-ager. (I suspect this is common among the children in dysfunctional families. Although, hmmmmm, come to think of it, almost all of us fit in that category, don’t we?? Never mind.) As I like to joke now, I failed spectacularly, didn’t I??? (Ha ha. Gallows humour. Believe me, I do not blame myself. At least I tried!!) Got interested in environmental activism right around the time James Hansen started talking about global warming & the “greenhouse effect” (i.e., late 1980s). Did lots of good work on a variety of environmental issues. Arrived at the nuke issue rather late in the game – spent 8 years on that one, pretty intensely. Along came vaccines to grab me by the throat, about 3 1/2 years ago now. Whoa! So many shockers involved. Anyway. I have always loved being an activist. Suits me to a “T,” as the saying goes. (I think activists have more fun!!! We may not live the “high life” exactly, but we make a lot of great friends, do worthwhile work, & have fun! I know I’ve had a ton of it, have always felt appreciated, & that my work, though often to no avail, seemingly, shall we say, has always been pretty good stuff.) No regrets about that choice, on my part. Of course, there have been some “unintended consequences” along the way… but I don’t think any of us manage to escape those!