Since entering grad school, my life seems to have moved into fast forward, and the transformation of self astonishes me daily. I was raised in a wounded and damaged home. My mother had undiagnosed schizophrenia, my father had the religion bug (moved us from Indiana to Arkansas so he could go to Harding College, now Harding University, and become a minister). Those were strange years, between when we moved at age ten until I got out of the house.
Like an alcoholic home, we never talked about what went on behind closed doors. The abuses schizophrenia unleashes can shatter a child's reality. (Very much like what happenes in an addictive household.) I lived in a world where the rules changed every week or two. I could litererly ask to spend the night at a friend's house on Monday, get permission, go on Friday and be punished when I got home for not asking.
My mother's abuses perpetuated on the children in her seventh grade classrooms were equally damaging to others. Like me, they never knew where they stood with her. As the illness took its toll, her erratic behavior brought my mother before the schoolboard to defend her job most every summer.
So my parents and I closed ranks, which smoothered my attempts to connect with community. I did not talk on the phone with friends and to to this day lack the comfort with phones that everyone else seems to have. For many years I lacked rudimentary social skills others take for granted, especially in the south where "bless her heart" means "fuck you." I was a nontraditional college student at 25 when those things finally started making sense. Nor surprisingly, I am now an introvert by nature.
Over the last few years, I went through menapause. At age 46, I seem to have occassional hotflashes, but otherwise few symptoms. The timing seems to coincide with having passed through the mothering part of my life. My therapist likes to argue that therapy is mothering, but for me, I dont quite agree. Indeed, one of my therapy supervisors suggested that when she saw some "mothering" in therapy that I needed move to a different approach -- which sounded more like where a crone would be. So even at school, the universe seems to be moving me beyond the mother and into the crone.
As I move in the phase of the crone, I find myself reaching out to my community. When we attended Goddess Fest I became acutely aware of the need to connect with the pagan community surrounding me, however out of sync I feel. I've begun blogging, and eagerly read everthing I follow. I grow frustrated with the need to read more of my online community than I have time for. I have joined elists, following a Christian GLBTQ group, a support group for the signifant other in a trans relationship, and an online Wiccan group. I treasure these groups and follow them avidly. With the Wiccan group, I am slowly becoming one of the elders of the group whose training and experience benefit the younger members. I am occassionally graced with the opportunity to "teach", which a role I highly value. More than that, I am filled with gratefulness to finally begin to connect with people and no longer be so isolated. For the first time in my life, I value community deeply and feel welcomed by it.