A riveting memoir of growing up with an often absent schizophrenic mother, who was at once loving and unequivocally destructive.
Early in Casey’s childhood, her mother was sent away to a series of asylums, leaving her childhood a blur of life alone with her sister, staying with neighbors and enduring multiple molestations. For a confused young girl, perhaps it was no mystery why any contact with her mother, as querulous and insulting as she could be, was often preferable to her absence. As time wore on, however, the pressure to live up to her mother’s outrageous expectations became overwhelming, until Casey finally ceased all communication. Once married, with children of her own, the author initiated contact with her institutionalized mother. Over several years, a tenuous relationship was formed between them, marked by much of the same dysfunction that tainted her parents’ marriage. Casey draws on 30 years of recollections, recounting childhood memories intermingled with her own adult experiences. Without hyperbole, the author demonstrates that all roads ultimately lead back to the family, psychological damage and all. Casey pulls no punches in relating the monstrous mental rupture that existed as she was simultaneously loved and driven to emotional destruction by her mother. The writing is evocative and brave, filled with insightful sentiment, but refreshingly free of sentimentality. The passages depicting Casey and her mother are at once rewarding and exasperating, heartwarming and wrenching. (The loose chronology is a minor distraction as the reader tries to follow the progression of the mother’s illness.) Apparent on every page is the aptitude and passion necessary to unburden oneself from the stigma of mental illness.
An engrossing story of a topic that is often overlooked, misrepresented or made maudlin.