Let’s Play “Pretend.” We’ll Figure Out What To Do With The Bodies Later.
Lorna has questions that only the adults in her life who’ve kept secrets from her can answer. Will she ever know “the truth?”
After I got over my little-girl dream of becoming a nurse to “help people” (having realized I was scared to death of needles and old people’s toe nails), I wanted desperately to be an actress. I loved the idea of adopting dramatic femme fatale personas and acting out death scenes that would leave my audience openly weeping–even the women. “Love Story” was my inspiration. I was Ali McGraw in that death-bed scene…
Acting ability was something I probably inherited along with migraines from my mom’s side and alcoholism from my daddy’s side; it seemed burned into my genes. The adults in my family could keep secrets that even “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” would’ve been ineffective. Well, both of my grandmothers would’ve held out, at least.
Over many years, I learned important “Intel” to help me understand my family, which I thought was a normal as they come. We weren’t. Or, even worse–maybe we were.
Secret 1: Grandpa was an alcoholic. I thought he was just a dentist and important man in his community. A lot of people did.
Secret 2: Daddy was abused physically and emotionally by Grandpa. For reasons unknown, he was the whipping-post for his father’s drunken rage. Daddy was labeled the “Black Sheep” of the family and often considered more of a chore-hand than one of the nine children in his family. He had a twin sister. She got birthday parties, complete with her name on the cake and presents for her, but Daddy was cakeless and presentless. That’s just one example.
Secret 3: When one child is abused in a family, everyone is traumatized. I never realized that until I finally opened up to one of my uncles about my anger about that whole family letting my daddy suffer (a few years ago). “Why didn’t anyone help him?” I asked. He responded, his head hung low with remorse, “We were afraid. We didn’t know if one of us would be next.”
Secret 4: Grandma, his mother, was probably abused and raped. Why else would she have nine children with this mean dentist-drunk? She spent most of her time praying and getting a serious dowager’s hump.
Secret 5: Mom was relieved that Daddy was dead. She didn’t have to worry about where he was and what he was doing. He was unpredictable. I have 4 memories of my Daddy. Three are “good” and one is awful. He is holding me and yelling at Mom. She’s crying and yelling back–perfect trailer-trash scenario because we lived in a trailer. He plops me down hard on top of a washing machine, growls something about killing something, walks out and slams the door so hard that glass shatters. To this day, I freeze when I’m around an angry person.
Secret 6: Daddy had a another family in a town 50 miles from where we lived. I have a half-sister that I ignore, contrary to what TV dramas have you believe about joyful family reunions between illegitimate siblings.
Secret 7: “Respectable” people don’t “do” suicide. They don’t speak of it, commit it, or support the family members left to pick up the pieces. At family gatherings, I always felt like a stranger–I wasn’t connected to anyone there because no one even spoke his name. They made him vanish so effectively that, for a while, I thought “normal” families didn’t have fathers.
As I reflect on my maniacal need to please others at the expense of myself, my conflict-aversion, my boy-craziness, and the alcoholism that began from the combination of the three–a bulb burns brighter on illuminating the trajectory of my life story. I was a lost, scared soul, looking for someone to define me. Once someone gave me a role to play, I had the intelligence to play it to the hilt–sometimes because of, and sometimes in spite, of alcohol.
Adept Actress Lorna needed a director. I constantly searched for the perfect director, figuring he could make me shine.
Secret 8: I didn’t need anyone to “make me” shine. I was just afraid to step away from the camera lens and be my own director.
Stay tuned to learn how, through more twists and turns, Lorna learns to become her own director.