Programmed by Tragedy

An interesting thought occurred to me this weekend. I was thinking about my mother, my memoir and how the collision of both of them may have a very significant impact in shaping my future.  As far as I know, at this moment in time my mother has no knowledge of my having wrote a book, let alone that she has a starring role.

Is that legal you ask?

Yes, completely ( Please note: I checked and in my situation it is, but yours may be different). I am sharing my own personal story based on the first hand knowledge and recollections of those I have shared my life with. I never use my mother’s name and the last time I checked, she has had 27 different names so I am not sure it really matters. I chose personally not to use her name, simply because it doesn’t really have any connection to the story. The entire time I have known my mother, her real name was never the name she was using. I am not sure she would even know how to be that person if she tried. Therefore, in my eyes, her real name is irrelevant to my story.

Furthermore, without giving too much away, the name my mother used (as her name) on my birth certificate was not even her real name. From the day I was born, my mother was not my mother, but she really was my mother.

Yup, that is what I meant to say, “From the day I was born, my mother was not my mother, but she really was my mother.”

It is always a bit awkward when someone references my last name, asking me if I know “so and so” from somewhere. I always politely say no. I know the answer will always be no.

Some people will push the issue and I eventually tell them that I am not related to anyone with my last name. I get the same look every time…What? How is that possible?

Trust me, it’s possible. Complicated, but very possible.

Now, it is not my intent for this book to portray my mother in ill light and I believe that is apparent in the first few pages. The real focus is how one finds the strength to overcome life’s hurdles. Everyone has a story. It is my belief that it is the person you are at the end of the story that really matters.

Over time, as disappointment becomes and every day certainty, you manage to find your balance. Eventually, you find your own way to deal with each pitfall in an almost rhythmic manner. It’s like when danger hits, something in your mind says, “This again? Okay, I know what to do” and then you go into autopilot and react however you usually react. Sounds a bit like programming, doesn’t it?

Growing up, my mother put great emphasis on being a strong woman. She would brag about her ability to work on cars (although I don’t think she really could, ha-ha) and she made sure everyone knew she was taking care of me alone.

My mother hated when I cried (she said it was because it made her cry). Every time I would start to pout, she would tell me that if I stuck my lip out any further a bird would swoop down and perch on it. I would usually end up thinking that was funny and laugh off whatever I was upset about.

In more serious situations, when (I realize now) she was barely holding it together herself, my mother was a bit more harsh.

“Don’t Start” she would say sternly, “If you do it then I’m gonna do it and I need to drive.”

This didn’t happen a lot, just in the moments when we were fleeing from someone.

Which reminds me of something else. My mother always told me that whenever I was in trouble that I should run away. “Just turn and run away” she would say. I know she meant well, but unfortunately that was not the best advice in most of the situations I encountered in the future, lol.

In writing this book, I gained a better understanding of not just myself, but the intent behind many of my mother’s actions as well. To most people, my mother may seem heartless and vindictive, but they don’t know the whole story. Underneath her tough criminal exterior, she is a kind and loving person. I just don’t know if she truly understands how to be that person without also being the person she has been for the last 30+ years. I can only imagine where the roots of my mother’s behavior lie, but they must run deep.

If we are in a sense programmed by tragedy, than after a while, I would imagine we would start to automatically react a certain way based on the tragedy’s level of difficulty as well.  As the years go on we become more proficient in assessing the situation and creating a plan of action to address it. Provided you programmed yourself correctly, this would seem to be a very beneficial process. However, if you are not so lucky, like me, You may spend much of your adult life re-programming yourself.

In my childhood, my first reaction was to be strong. This usually meant shoving my feelings down deep in side, shaking it off and moving forward. Sadly, after some time you run out of space and there is no longer a place to shove your feelings.

I remember the moment when it all came crashing down. My entire body just seemed to buckle under the weight of emotion. I fell to my knees, buried my face in the linoleum and sobbed with every ounce of my being. It is a moment I will never forget. It reminds me of how crippling it can be to keep everything bottled up in side. We are human, we are meant to feel. Life has challenges and they will continue to arise for as long as we are on this earth. How much more pleasant to work through each struggle as it comes, learning what you can from each experience. Each leap making you stronger and stronger.

From my experience, perseverance in the face of struggle can lead you to great things!

Image courtesy of adamr at


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