(why the lasting trauma on Adult Children of Mentally Ill Parents is so destructive to human potential and happiness.)
My story…now well into middle age, a lifetime of looking back at the devasting effects and incredible damage of having been raised by a parent in a Crooked House, a house always tittering on the brink of collapse and utter destruction, full of fear, full of sadness, full of confusions, full of neglect, full of cruelty, full of lonliness, completely abandoned by absolutely every adult around you. Complete chaos, destruction and panic.
Not an easy house to grow up in by any means, but we made do, tried to find some humor and tried everything possible to survive the very best we could. We, the children, are the casualties of untold life-threatening battles in an emotional, physical and psychological war that rages around us as we, ourselves try to grow up and find our footing in a normal world and have a normal life.
I know that my mother's illness was not her fault and she had many really wonderful qualites to be sure, but in the end, war is still war and people get hurt.
Finding that footing or center in our selves, our identity and sense of place in the world, to “ be allowed a presence in this life” (to quote Alix) is a right every child should have. To have the right to a future. That right is taken away from us as we are abandoned by other more pressing issues in the family, like the roof blowing off the house and the only sound left is the sound of breaking glass.
We have the right to a ‘presence’ or place in this life that includes happiness, peace of mind, a deep and abiding sense of security, serenity and joy. A life that is anxiety and depression free, free of mental disabilities that affect social human interaction and personal potential. Free from things like major chronic depression, PTSD, addictions, premature onset of physical illness, emotional and psychological aberrations of all sorts and kinds. Free from the self-destructive shame, guilt, isolation and lonliness.
The Crooked House is trying to provide a way for those of us who lived in that house and survived, a place to share our stories, grieve our heartbreak, celebrate our survival, and more importantly - find the tools to help ourselves and others rebuild the crooked houses we‘ve all built inside ourselves to survive. Build a new house...To find some happiness, a little serenity and maybe even a bit of joy, perhaps even becoming the people we are meant to be.