I had intended to write another post sooner rather than later, but like many I had nothing to say following the horrible events in Connecticut. I only wrote to let you know I am aware of what happened, have been following events as the investigation unfolds.
Mental illness is a terrible thing. I learned years ago that most families have suffered with one form or another of the problem.
Hospitalized in my early twenties, I was suffering from what I now realize was a postpartum depression exacerbated from living with an alcoholic Marine who kept loaded guns lying around the house. Women were treated like crazies and subjected to horrible “medical treatment” in those days.
The EX wasn’t crazy for keeping loaded guns around the house, I was, or so the male military doctors informed me. After years of therapy to deal with the trauma of my hospitalization, I finally obtained the courage from somewhere deep inside to leave the jerk. I give credit to my higher power who was always there.
I have subsequently encountered many people throughout my lifetime who were very nearly insane. The list is almost endless, and I won’t bring up names or places here, except for the woman David, my husband the counselor, refers to as “nearly sane Sally.” Sally’s alcoholic ex-husband lived in the crawl space under her house for years because although she kicked him out, she could not let him go.
The one thing I became aware of over time was that community mental health services are really important now more than ever as our troops, many of whom suffer from PTSD, return from overseas. Hopefully, this is one area of expenditure governments will strengthen financially as our various state and local economies deal with health care and other budget issues.
When I worked on a PhD in Sociology at the University of Maryland in the 1980s, my concentration fell in Social Psychology. I never finished the PhD, because I could not choose between what professionals call micro (Social Psychology) and macro (Social Organization) sociology. Besides, I went to work for the Census Bureau, and had far less time to dedicate to school work than my corporate masters had provided. So I left the university for a few years.
In a continued effort to educate myself, however, like many of my peers, I perused the shelves of “self-help” books at Borders and elsewhere. As a result, I read hundreds of psychology books during my thirties, forties and fifties. Later, I turned to books like those by Joseph Campbell of a more spiritual nature. For a time, I read Wiccan literature as well.
Some of my co-workers got wind of my interests, and in their ignorance assumed I was a version of the girls they had known in college who had fanciful meetings in the woods “sky-clad” as they called it. They laughed about it and talked behind my back. One Christmas when we visited the holiday tree on the Mall and viewed the Yule log, one of them told me she “hoped they weren’t burning witches.”
My exposure to Wicca involved a local Pagan group who met at the Unitarian Church on Fridays. I took David with me to a few of the meetings attended by other solitary Wiccans or hedge witches like me, but he did not like them.
After this I came to know many members of Jehovah’s Witness who showed up on my doorstep regularly. I imagined they were sent by my Higher Power as part of my learning experience and invited them in my house to hold discussions. But I soon scared them away when, on one visit, they spotted my vast collection of Wiccan and Tarot books and other paraphernalia. I think they assumed I was working for Satan. Although I have carted most of the stuff to Goodwill since, I have the remaining material locked away in a safe place. I don’t want to scare anyone else.
A recurring dream came to me the other night. I was on a path of packed yellow dirt lined on either side with the vegetation you see on country walks. I had no idea where I was going, but soon came to an old settlement in a clearing. I could tell it was old because the structures were composed of those crumbling bricks you see on really old buildings here in Virginia. I was reminded of one of the poems Joyce Kilmer wrote when he was a solider in France where he died in WWI: