My mom was a California surfer chick who abandoned her rich family life to live with hippies in the woods of Oregon. That’s where she met my father and where I was born, deep in the woods of Oregon, in a shack, in the middle of a pot farm. I know this is true because once when I was a teenager I went through an old box of things and found a photo album of my grandmother standing next to a pot plant. She hadn’t lied when she said that my father’s plants grew taller than her. Once my mother had me she started to grow concerned about whether it was a safe place to raise a child. Her brother was best friends with my father and they took pot growing seriously. She says she left my father after a gun fight over the pot. Once for school, I wanted to write a story about why my dad spent two years in prison when I was only a small child. I have one very vague memory of visiting a prison when I was young but could never remember if it was to visit my uncle or my father. My father told me that he got arrested because some neighbors tried to steal their pot. Their was a gun fight and my uncle got shot. My dad told me that he stayed to help my uncle, even though everyone else bailed. He said that was why he got caught. I told this story which had been told to me by my mother, my father, and my grandparents on both sides during group therapy at an intensive treatment camp for addicts. They emphasized that day how the stories our families tell us influence our identities, but they are just stories. More like folk tales than reality. A few years ago I was googling my father’s name to try to find him and a link from the local newspaper’s archives popped up. I read the newspaper article about my father. The real story was horrifying. My father and a group of his friends had gathered their guns and gone to get their weed back from the men who had stolen it. My father forced men at gun point into a huge pit in the ground and held them captive for hours. He was arrested and convicted of kidnapping. The real story was worse than the tale and now there wasn’t even consolation that perhaps, this small part of my identity had been embellished to sound more exciting.
Again, my mom always said that was s why she left my dad. She was afraid for me. My dad said she was lying. He said she was a whore and cheated on him with my first step-dad. He says she left us both for the man. He says she abandoned my when I was a baby and him and my uncle took care of me for two weeks. My mom says that’s not true that my dad wouldn’t let her have me. In the movies, when a woman leaves her dangerous partner she always takes the kids with her somehow. I am probably not going to find a newspaper article in any archives to confirm which side of that story was true. Either way this is the defining moment in the injury to my developing brain. The roots of a broken attachment system. I remember one time when my grad student therapist drew me a picture on a big white pad of paper, a picture of the brain and what happens to it when children experience abandonment from their caregiver in those vital early years. The first two years of my life, when my parents were peace loving, pot growing hippies were just the beginning of a childhood filled with brain damaging trauma.