I have never liked her high school graduation picture. It was the bangs. I hated the bangs. It's only been in the last year or so, while looking for vintage hairstyles, that I discovered Bettie Page. Bettie was the first "bondage" model. I'll leave it at that. No photos, no links. My mother was emulating Bettie Page in High School. No, this is not an exaggeration. I'm fairly certain.
The truth is that my Drama Mama was a narcissist. She needed to be the center of attention. When she joined the Church, she became a better person, she worked hard at it and tried to control that broken inner part. But, much of the manipulative, mean, jealous and unkind behavior that goes with that particular personality disorder still bubbled just below the surface. Just as sexuality had been an outlet earlier in her life, alternative medicine and her many practitioners and vendors became the outlet for the last two thirds of her life.
Still she mostly managed to keep the most obnoxious parts of that personality disorder under wraps. That was until her brain started to go in her final illness. Then she was in and out, with all the attendant consequences and the unfortunate enabling from the three princesses.
In the end, I still love her. And, hopefully this is the end for me in chasing all the puzzle pieces down and maybe I can now move on. I do feel a certain peace in the gospel and the atonement of Christ. It's big enough for me and my Drama Mama with all her foibles.
I sometimes wonder what this blog has cost me and what it has saved me in Therapy. Last night I spoke with Uncle Doc (last survivor of Drama Mama's extended family that I knew). She had "pissed him off" which had led to him not wanting anything to do with the Church and not returning my phone calls. I had written him off, but decided I just had to have some answers to questions, so I called and left a voicemail. He has really made a good effort to get back to me and claims he wants to stay in touch, which is deadening my feelings of loss. Here's a picture of me with my Drama Mama.
We did talk last night and he answered my questions. He said that Penny was the "best woman my Mom ever knew." Right away, without hearing my further questions about their sexuality. He said it was possible that they were lesbians or had a romantic relationship, but he didn't know. He confirmed that Drama Mama left the homelands for the big city a couple states away because Penny had a job there and "invited" Drama Mama to come out to live in the same city. Here's a picture of me with my "Aunt Penny."
Like me, he remembers that there was some sort of falling out between Drama Mama and Penny, but doesn't know what it was about. I don't remember us living with Penny ever, but we all spent a lot of time together. I also remember her giving a speech to Penny which was an it's a time for you to move on speech why don't you marry our friend the beatnik (which she did).
He helped identify a couple personalities for me,and, I love his TMI moments, confessed that all had been drinking too much and he woke up one morning in bed with my biological father's former girlfriend (before Drama Mama)without knowing what had happened between them or if anything had happened at all. Any way Bio Dad's former girlfriend also appears to be a big part of my life as a baby and toddler as her name is also all over my baby book.
Finally, his memory was that Drama Mama got kicked out of nursing school (a residential program) because the Nuns thought she was a bad influence on the other women in the program. He said she was running with a very bad and well known group of "rough" people. He also confirmed that his older brother was routinely calling the school and asking, "Is this the Catholic whore house?"
I'm sorry if I've bored any readers to tears with processing the passing of my Drama Mama.
There is more than one picture in the photo album of me with "Penny." I can't help but wonder if my life would have been better if lived with my two "Mothers," instead of just my biological mother and her bad choice in LDS men. Penny predeceased Drama Mama by five years. Of course this assumes that they would have partnered, and while Drama Mama had admitted to having that experience open to her, she always claimed to have never taken that path.
I always said I was going to try to invest some time in reestablishing my relationship with Penny. Penny was never happy with her husband that she later married and they had children, at least one of whom, was a down's syndrome baby. I have so many memories of spending holidays and just good times with Penny. She died before I could really do that. Funny thing is that my DH actually had a better relationship with her in later life, just due to the coincidence of actually being around when she called and making some outbound calls regarding Drama Mama's mother's death.
In my heart of hearts, I would have liked to have a rational mother and father of opposite sexes, but I didn't get that did I? I have to say that in thinking it over, if I still could have somehow had the opportunity to have the gospel in my life, having two Moms in Penny and Drama Mama and no Dad, would have been better than wicked stepfather and Drama Mama together. I think Drama Mama would have been less strung out all the time and would have had a better life herself had she been coupled with Penny.
But that is all conjecture, nevertheless, I couldn't help but think of it as I looked at the many pictures of Penny and couldn't find the picture of Bio Dad I thought was in the album. Watch for a picture of me and Penny in a later post.
DH is a curmudgeon. I was thinking this morning that there is probably some value in his negative outlook to his world to our relationship. Then I heard an interview on the radio of a gentleman who was explaining that there is a certain beauty in negative reality. I totally get this from every perspective. It takes a lot of confidence in every way not to fall into the traps of either end of the spectrum. But there is tremendous pressure not to dwell in reality especially when it sucks and for some people the very fact that there is negative reality is problematic. It shouldn't be though.
Looking over my baby book, I discovered that I have yet another also known as name. Drama Mama apparently intended at one time that I, too, go by the last name of Browning. Regular readers will recall my earlier post which described Drama Mama's psuedonym and her wedding ring. Dear readers you will also recall my post wherein I decided to look for new parents now that Drama Mama has passed.
While I was sharing the information about my new (old) birth name, DH was scratching his head and said, "you know, I think there was a famous poet or writer with that last name." Sure enough, we went to our vintage 80's encyclopedias, and therein we found Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Ms. Elizabeth Barrett, secretly married Robert Browning, another poet. Her father disowned her, but she had her own means from her work. She and Robert moved to and lived happily in Italy.
DH is fairly sure that "Penny" Drama Mama's long time "girlfriend" came up with this name because of the obvious similarities/opportunities/cover up possibilities. Given the obvious hilarity of this situation in retrospect, I'm thinking I can just make up the perfect family and pick things up where she left off. I will simply make up the siblings and parents I would like to have and pretend they are my family.
The problem is, that I'm having a real tough problem figuring out how to make up the perfect Mormon Father, Mother and Siblings for me. Any suggestions? Please help me develop the characters for Quiet Song's virtual family of perfection on earth. Also, I'm thinking about calling them something other than the Browning's or the Song's.
At this point it's pretty clear they've got to be at least intellectually LGBT friendly and have strong testimonies. Slightly on the liberal side of the political spectrum would be good too. Good conflict management skills and integrity are a must. What else?
I made a quick trip to retrieve the belongings left to my branch of the family tree by my Drama Mama at her passing.
Also, I went through a few of the dregs the three princesses sent home with my "good" Sister. I was surprised at how much I did want. We are minimalists at our house, and, yes, we really can use some additional rubbermaid storage containers. I think carefully before I buy things so we just don't have overflowing cupboards with things others might find mundane but essential.
I picked out a few items of her clothing that I thought I might like and a pair of shoes. By the time I arrived at my home, I realized the folly of that idea. There is no way I could bring myself to wear any of the clothing. First, it isn't me. Second, there are just too many strong emotions. The shoes maybe. We'll see.
Before leaving, I went by her house, which sits vacant, neglected, abandoned. The three princesses after so much hullabaloo to become Drama Mama's personal representatives have declined to open a probate, kept all of the valuable personal property not specifically given to someone in the will and haven't bothered to give notice to the creditors of her passing. The house is upside down. My "good" sister is still getting calls from creditors.
The house which made my Drama Mama so happy in her last years looked so forlorn with the front lawn thirty inches high and a yellowed newspaper on the walk. All the light was gone and only a dreary, sad and pathetic aura pervaded the place. Somehow it seems like an altogether too fitting metaphor for the injury to our family that will never heal.
So, I've been asked to talk from the heart and my personal experience about my relationship with the Lord.
As I've mulled this over, I have come to the conclusion that I've experienced many phases or developmental stages in my Relationship with the Lord.
The First Whispering of the Still Small Voice
It all began with my childhood phase. Where I felt the Lord witness plainly and simply to me.
Then there was my teenage phase where I repeatedly prayed for confirmation and repeatedly got it.
The Guidance of a Patriarchial Blessing
I then had a Patriarchial Blessing phase wherein I really delved into that blessing and just about memorized it, such that when that first same sex attraction appeared later I knew that the Lord had already given me guidance on that issue. Characterized by pondering and praying.
The Resource of Institute
Then there was my Young Adult/College Student Angst phase where I sorted out all things bizarre/difficult such as Polygamy, feminism and the priesthood and who I was and returned to activity. Characterized by studying of secondary source materials (at the institute library) and some prayer.
The Sisterhood of Relief Society, a Mother's Prayers and Family Scripture Study
Then there was my young wife/young mother/resentment phase where in I realized life was not just some caricature of a happy ideal, that I too, would suffer and face difficulties. Characterized by heart rending prayer and tears, leaning heavily on my sisters in the gospel and my first really sustained effort as an adult at family scripture study. Daily appeals to the Lord on behalf of a child. The beginning of my integration into the greater body of the Church as something more than a recipient of other's acts.
The Consequences of Denial of the Holy Ghost and the Tender Mercies of the Lord
Next came my relationship with the Lord in my extremities as I failed to follow the promptings, put away my desires for the riches of the world, and do what had been revealed by the Lord to me. I suffered profound physical pain which I know could have been avoided. I came to have a deeper recognition of when the Holy Ghost was working in my life through this experience and to fully understand the consequences of not heeding the Spirit.
The Astounding Benefits of Temple Attendance and the Power of the Priesthood
After that came a period of time where I was able to attend the Temple regularly often with great difficulty. This phase culminated in my greater understanding of the Power of the Priesthood and the application of Priesthood Power in my life on behalf of my children.
In the Valley of the Shadow Wherein I Rejoiced in all the Things Past that the Lord had Done
During this time I suffered deep mental, emotional, physical and financial privations as step by step I followed extraordinary personal revelation in faith. I learned that even without an ongoing burning in my bosom, I could rely on those previous extraordinary witnesses and ordinary witnesses to carry me through a time when feeling was not so easy to come by.
Finding The Peace of the Lord through Fasting, Prayer and Scripture Study
When I first went through my huge internal turmoil regarding the Kid's coming out, Prop 8, DH and Girl Song's disaffection, and the enormous professional growth I was making,I had the opportunity to teach the scriptures at Church which necessitated deep study. This was came at a time when I had enhanced intellectual ability and an expanded ability to analyze what I read in the Schriptures. Because I was having such a hard time myself and so many members of my family were also suffering in one form or another, I decided to fast weekly. I also had the opportunity to have great personal prayer at this time on a daily basis. Finally, to this day, I'm still the primary giver of prayers in the home, although Baby Song occasionally steps in.
I learned how to love with a Christ Like love during this time and have been extremely blessed with Peace and the reduction, and finally the absence of internal conflict and a witness that the Lord is at the helm and all will be well in the end.
I Hope to Endure Valiantly
This last phase has been so amazing for me and I know that I have received exactly the kind of blessings the scriptures speak of during this last phase. I so wish that I had understood this twenty years ago, but I wasn't ready. I had to learn through not only my own adversities and failures but through the experiences of those around me as well.
I am finally at the place where I no longer fear what the Lord may send me as I know there are more things for me to learn before I leave. I expect to experience additional types of loss, disappointment, heartache, and failure. But I'm ready and I've learned to rely on the Lord and to give thanks for the opportunities and the blessings of this sweet experience here on earth.
This has been a bit of a calm week here in Songville. Inquiring minds want to know whether or not the Kid still has a boyfriend, we think not as he was out with a girl yesterday. Girl Song may land a job nearby, we are trying not to get our hopes up. The weather is changing but in a good way. And, so far so good for the fine month of September.
It has been a year since I started blogging. I'm feeling much better about things and have resolved or found peace with most of my internal conflicts. It's over two years since I found the MOHO blogosphere and starting reading the blogs of others. Thank you all for raising your voices. We may differ greatly in our diversity of experience and viewpoints, but it has been very helpful to me both as an individual revisiting my own slightly more than straight sexuality and as a parent of a LGBT person. And, perhaps most importantly as a faithful member.