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The Journey to the Woman I am Today....To include, the Beautiful, the Ugly & the Rest of It. (Part I)
Look out world, she has arrived.
At 6:28 p.m, on a Saturday evening in April of the year 1948, a second daughter was born to 26 year old Italian beauty, Rose Mary and her dashing 32 year old,\Ukranian husband, Edward Stephen ("Eddie"). Having been prepared with both a boy's name as well as a girl's, they graced me with "Paula Mary," to honor both grandmothers. My Dad was fond of saying I was a 7 lb 6 oz cutie, with a pair of lungs like a hungry lioness. I am sure he was not joking.
Anxiously awaiting to meet her baby sister, my 5 year old sister, Patricia was in the care of our maternal Grandmother. Of course, I remember none of this nor much of anything else until much later, but I have always somehow known I was welcomed and loved to pieces.
I have no idea at what age my memory retention kicked in. Most of my early childhood is bits and pieces, like a series of short movie trailers. I know in retrospect that around age 3, my parents bought a home in my mother's hometown and we left the city to settle 40 miles southwest, into a big house in a lovely, peaceful neighborhood.
This home, nestled in the valley of a quaint, friendly village of western New York, would be my sister's and my forever residence until our moment of departure into the world of independence.
Mom & Dad.....as I knew them
Have you ever realized that of all of the people in your life, if asked to describe the person you are, each one of them would have their own unique and quite different description to offer? If you've never thought about this, you'll be amused and amazed to become aware of this mysterious fact. Each individual sees you through their own eyes, with an independent opinion, stemming from their own experiences and relationship with you through the years. This is very true even with our children and the people closest to us.
In time, my sister and I would become each other's best friend. For as many similarities we shared, there were that many differences as well. Through the years of interaction and discussion, we came to realize that each of us held vastly different concepts of our parents. I find this a fascinating curiosity, but a reality, nonetheless.
Being that I simply don't have a huge trunk-full of childhood memories of any significant value or extraordinary content, I can comfortably tell you, my family, our life and the daily activities, were that of your normal, average run-of-the-mill-kind of typical American families in the 50's & 60's. However, I should make it clear, we were not the Cleavers nor the Nelsons......but then, who was?
Life's Journey.....Our footprints leave our signature, impressed upon the trail...so we can understand the person we've become.
Had I not studied in depth for years, the intricacies and complexities of the human mind.......had I not delved with all my might into knowledge and comprehension of the psychology that drives and directs, as well as distinguishes Homo Sapiens from the balance of all life forms....I question that I'd believe in the indisputable facts that explain for us why we are who we are.
Please be clear that I mean who we are at our very core, in the deepest niche of our being. I do not mean to suggest an explanation for why we think, behave or speak, in the broadest sense, throughout our every day existence. This latter being our personality.
To further justify my intent, please accept for instance, that severe trauma suffered in childhood, does, in a real and biological manner, change us and/or alter our thought process and can effect our emotional/mental developmental process.
It does not at all times, for every traumatized individual, cause disastrously negative results. There are multiple aspects to consider, to include our DNA, environment/upbringing, nurturing or lack thereof, as well as countless other aspects of our humanness that must be addressed and analyzed in detail.
Back to the little girl of my story
Most of us, as far as I can see, have to rely on what we're told about our very early years. Our parents in particular, are our source of information, although extended family and close friends of Mom and Dad can reconfirm the tales we hear.
Boxes and boxes of black and white snap shots that I loved to look at over and over again, tell me wonderful, happy stories that I have not a single recollection of being a part of. Oh, the pictures tell me I was there, in that room with my sister, doing whatever we might have been doing but I may as well have been looking at pictures in a magazine.
It could not have been very long at all after moving into our forever home, that our Dad was hospitalized at the Veteran's Hospital, located in the city we'd just moved from, 40 miles away. He was there for a lengthy stay....as in months and months.
This is where and when, a small section of myself was created and evidently, etched in stone.
I do not remember being thrilled and excited to be on my way to see my Daddy (although in later years, I learned that I cried myself to sleep nightly, missing him so pitifully.) I don't recall the ride in the old Ford with my Mom and her older brother, Sam...my Uncle and Godfather. I don't remember giggling and jumping for joy to see my Daddy's face, nor leaping into his lap to hug and kiss him and ask him over and over when he was coming home. In simple terms, I don't recall any of these warm, happy feelings, on that day, that realistically, I surely would have experienced.
What was firmly and cruelly planted within my delicate, young psyche, some sixty years ago, was my first experience with pure panic and terror. And it is this beast of childhood horror that returned to haunt me.
At whatever age it was that this experience began to creep into my conscience and begin to stalk me, is unclear. I only know that it began to occur repeatedly, in the identical manner each and every time. Like a snippet of a motion picture, I am sitting on a wooden park-type bench, with my father, mother and Uncle. Quickly, the scene becomes my father standing, hands in the pockets of his blue plaid robe, smiling as he looked down at me and said, "Good-Bye." The visit was over and he began to walk away from me.
In that instant as I felt my little heart sink, I jumped from the bench and began to scream in absolute hysterics, running after him, pleading, "No, Daddy!.. don't go, no, no, come back Daddy!! Please, Daddy, come home with me."
My frenzy escalated, and my mother scooped me up, my Uncle by her side. My panic increased and my screams became blood-curdling as I kicked and squirmed to free myself from my mother's arms. I remember as she handed me, screaming and kicking, to my Uncle, lashing out at him, hitting his face, even trying to bite him, like a crazed wild animal in the jaws of a trap.
As I stiffened my body and wrenched my neck, I looked toward the hospital where my Dad had reached the entrance door. The final vision within this horror of mine, was that of my Dad, turning slightly toward us and waving, his other hand still in his pocket.
He was gone from sight, and waves of nausea consumed me. Just a tiny and fragile tot, my Uncle sat holding me tightly with both of his arms... rocking me back and forth, trying to comfort me....to console me.
I cannot forget the surge of utter panic and helplessness..... of being so firmly restrained while aching with a desperate need to be free, to run after my Daddy.
These few minutes of utter trauma has not only remained with me, within me, for sixty years, but imbedded itself firmly into my core. I am somewhat comforted now, as I understand the switch that when flipped, never fails to retrieve every pang of shattering emotions in a child, not quite 4 years old and the violent reflex I must still try to squelch, today.
Childhood Trauma: EXCELLENT video
An Instant in Time, Can Ripple into Eternity
I've stunned myself with the realization that for the first time ever, these words are in print before my eyes. A scenario from so long ago that has lived within my mind, secretly hidden in dark and empty corners. I've relived it and vocalized it in a private moment or two, but this? Now, as I read the words before me, I can no longer keep it locked away in darkness.
Come walk with me through the light. Learn with me, as I share a distance of footprints. Footprints imprinted on a small part of the foundation of what has been my life thus far......a part of who I am.
Do not be surprised if you capture a familiar glimpse of yourself along the way. I will hold your hand. This is the gift I choose to share in order that those who walk along, might understand so much more of who they are.....and the evolution of it all. When you recognize yourself, be glad and be strong. As we share the footprints of this journey, you will begin to embrace more and more of your own revelations.
I firmly believe we have the capacity & desire to reach the coveted place of resolve and peace within. It seems to me, each of us needs to search deep within to find this. Begin today.
June 5th, 2012....Link to Part II Below: