Sowing the Seeds of Trouble

Yesterday was the 3rd anniversary of my mother’s death. I always seem to miss the actual day and remember suddenly the day after. My relationship was troubled, to say the least, with this truly mentally ill person who had me for a daughter. But, as I have said before, she had pretty much one of the most solid reasons for being batshit crazy of anyone I know.

My mom was born to a German Jewish man and a Swiss woman in 1934. During this troubled time of early Hitler, they tried living in Switzerland where it was safe, but antisemitism was not absent in Switzerland so her father could not get a job. Because they had already joined the Communist Party in Switzerland, they decided to relocate to Russia. Sadly, this was a bad choice because Stalin soon turned against German immigrants, suspecting them of being spies for Hitler. My grandfather was taken when my mom was 3 and killed slowly in a gulag, his wife unable to face visiting him after a while, his daughter barely remembering him.

One day when my mom was 7 she didn’t get picked up from school by her mother like she was supposed to be. She made her way home to find the door to their apartment sealed. Her mother had been taken. No note, no concern for the child left behind, just arrested. A kindly neighbor took mom in for a few days but then they finally came for her too. At 7 she was shipped by cattle car to an orphanage in Siberia. There she fought for rations and learned how to hide potatoes from the garden plot they were forced to keep in order to fill her empty stomach. My grandmother made it out of political prison and Russia alive, but her daughter was stuck until she was 21.

I’m telling you about this because a little girl was orphaned, emotionally damaged, and criminalized because one country judged her father’s religion and another country judged her parents’ immigrant status. When my mother died three years ago she was still that little seven year old girl emotionally. She was stunted by that trauma. Sure, she was intellectually adept, and able to carry on social relationships here and there, but she was never able to move beyond a very simple childlike connection. She was selfish, narcissistic, judgmental, and threw tantrums better than my own kids. She missed every opportunity to grow and mature that was given her, but what seven year old would find that fun anyway? She never grew up.

Because of generalizations, hatred, stereotypes, and mostly fear, one innocent child was traumatized beyond recovery, and another was traumatized by having her for a mother. I was raised by a seven year old woman. I am the second generation of a stunted, emotionally broken family. My children suffer for the sins of those who persecuted my mother because they are raised by a woman who had no real mother of her own. I invent motherhood every day. Yes, I have had about 150 years of therapy, and thank goodness I am the type of person to face all this crazy head on and end the cycle of trauma, but imagine if I wasn’t.

By tearing apart families, persecuting innocent immigrants, judging people by their religions or skin colors, we are creating generations of broken people who will bring future generations of broken children into this world. We are planting thousands of seeds of mental illness and emotional instability in our society. This must stop. This is not ok.