RECKLESS STEPS TOWARD SANITY
I take foolhardy steps to escape my mentally ill mother and emotionally abusive father, navigate the world alone, and, finding I remain tied to them both, ultimately seek to accept them as well as myself.
I turn thief in Step #1 Act Out. I steal my mother’s clothes. It’s Denver in 1968. I’m sixteen and I’ve spent three good-girl years watching our warm, Jewish home disintegrate as bipolar disorder has ravaged my mother and sent my father, a powerful attorney, into a spiteful tailspin. This is my first-ever insurrection, and it backfires. When I wear the clothes to school, it leads to a teacher assaulting me. Virtually parentless, I attempt suicide. Returning home to my mother chained to bed by her never-discussed mental illness and my father's cold silence, I fall victim to white suburbia’s dubious underbelly.
I trade Judaism for a seductive sect of Buddhism (Step #3 Change Religions). And, after a stranger rapes me at gunpoint, I encounter a law enforcement system minus victims’ rights. My father kicks me out when I turn eighteen (Step #4 Deny Dependence), and I rub elbows with a suburban sex trade to make enough to move from Colorado, yet the miles don’t break emotional ties between myself and my parents (Step #5 Trust First Impressions). Then at nineteen I marry attempting to further assert independence (Step #6 Play House), and in the midst of the Feminist Movement, I find my identity has vanished into someone called Mrs. Jack So-and-so.
I have a daughter and have married and divorced three times by the time she’s nine (Step #7— Attempt Adulthood). That’s when I’m forced to face my own mental illness, clinical depression. By the last step, I'm seeking to understand both parents’ strengths and weaknesses as well as find forgiveness for them and for me. As ill as my mother has been, she has also been my source of unconditional love throughout my life, and she’s ninety-seven when I lose her. It’s then I realize I’m robust enough to be content alone.
I'm thrilled to announce the book will be released in Spring 2019 by the University of New Mexico Press.