Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Message from the Heathen and the Doctor

Hi everyone, it’s The Heathen here, err… I mean Linda.

Earlier today, Elizabeth looked around the study dazed. We (Cheryl and I) had asked her if she recognized the books in the bookcases lining the walls. “I’m not allowed to read fiction.” she replied in a hesitant tone. I told her I had just read Peter Pan. ‘That’s a tool of Satan,” she said. She looked at me closer. “Are you one of ‘US’?” “No” I replied. “Then you’re a Heathen!” Beth stated, in the black and white tones of a brainwashed teenager.

Confused? You aren’t the only confused one today. Beth had a bad seizure earlier this afternoon while I was grocery shopping. Apparently she was in mid-sentence talking to Cheryl when all of a sudden she passed out. When she woke up she was back in 1987, living in California and going to high school.

Cheryl was a doctor because she asked her medical questions and had a stethoscope and stuff. When I arrived on the scene she did not recognize who I was. As she was talking about her religious private school, when she wanted to know who I was, I said I was her guidance counsellor. She wasn’t so sure about that, as heathen’s wouldn’t be allowed to work at her school. But then she remembered heathens were occasionally employed.

Beth looked carefully at me and said “but you’re old?” (Definitely a teenage point of view. )

She was very concerned for me and wanted to save me from being killed and tortured during the end of the world. Only 'the Chosen' would be saved. While this was fascinating, it was also sobering to hear her talk about the way things were when she was 17. We both grew up in the same conservative church/cult, but listening to her recount things, twenty years after they happened, made me realize how far she and I have come.

At one point Cheryl told Beth that she was married and when she want to know to who, Cheryl said that she was married to me. Beth giggled and told Cheryl she was silly. ‘Girls can’t marry girls!’

Cheryl was treated with suspicion because in our church, people didn’t go to see doctors. And you didn’t take any medication. (Elizabeth: “If you truly Believe you WILL be healed.”)

Beth’s memory was stuck firmly in 1987 for over 4 hours. She wanted us to call her parents to pick her up and take her home (to California!). I did eventually call them, let them know what was happening and asked if they could come over for a few minutes. When Beth saw them she became very upset because they were imposters – they didn’t look or act like her parents. “My father would be wearing a suit,” Elizabeth declared.

I had asked her parents if they could help her by saying it would be better for her to stay with me and Cheryl rather than go back with them. Cheryl could help her more because she was a doctor. How else could we explain why she needed to stay here at home in a place she didn’t recognize.

“Those aren’t my parents,” she told the doctor (Cheryl), as I escorted her them out. “My parents don’t ask me what I want to do, they COMMAND.”

We were eventually able to get Beth to use the bathroom in preparation for lying down. In the bathroom she found my straight romance and read the back cover. She was shocked and appalled that I had this book in my house. Coming out, she said to the doctor (who Elizabeth had been told was, likeher, of ‘US’, 'the Chosen'), “There was a man and a woman having a relationship and they weren’t EVEN married!”

This made me crack up so I had to turn away as Elizabeth turned and whispered to the doctor, “How can you still be friends...?” (Elizabeth had been told that while Cheryl was ‘US’ and I was not, we were still friends. This was humorous, but also heart-wrenching.

It was sometime between the bathroom and the nap that Beth thought we were sent to deprogram her, or had kidnapped her for ransom, and were drugging her and keeping her against her will (because she had no memory of yesterday or the day before). We decided this was not the time to offer her a valium and muscle relaxant. Didn’t want to fuel the ‘drugging’ idea.

When she did wake 1.5 hours later we were relieved to find she was starting to put things together and no longer 17 years old. But all the 'new information' was making her head hurt, and more seizures followed. We have decided to leave the connecting of memory dots to another day and instead show her some of the old familiar. We went for a drive to one of the local parks and stopped at Beacon Drive Inn, a favourite haunt of ours, for ice cream sundaes.

It was an exhausting day for everyone, physically and emotionally. Personally, it made me face the possibility that there may come a time when Beth won’t recognize me and may never recognize me again. How will I cope then and how will I help Beth to adjust to whatever state she is in, and her relationship with me? I’m just thankful I didn’t have to tackle that problem today alone. Here’s hoping a long rest overnight will keept the the memory button reset for a long time to come.

All being well, you’ll be back to your regular programming tomorrow night.


SharonMV said...

Thank you Linda, for letting me know about Beth's day and what happened. I've been worrying about her today. It must have been very difficult and confusing for her. And hard for you. I'm glad Cheryl was there for both of you.

Love to both of you,

Lisa Harney said...

Thank you for this update. All my best to both of you.

Please keep us updated. :(

saraarts said...

Aw, damn.

Kita said...

Thanks Linda for letting us know. I hope Beth is rested and feeling a little better today. And I hope you are OK, the stress of the situation must be almost impossible to bear. Please, take care the both of you (and Cheryl) and may tomorrow be a better day. Lots of love..

Miss Fairy Sparkle said...

What a difficult and revealing day - a mixture of past and present losses. May you all be given the strength to love each other the way you want to just now, as each day brings different changes. Big hug to Elizabeth.

rachelcreative said...

Linda - thanks for the update.

Beth - Hoping your brain is behaving soon. Thinking about you.

kathz said...

How scary for you all. It certainly does show how far Beth has come from her teenage years. It must have been frightening for her as well as you to find herself back there in a world of commands and prohibitions. I'm glad she's emerging and that she was surrounded by so much love and care.

love and best wishes to you both (and Cheryl, whose presence must have helped)

Tammy said...

Thank you for updating us Linda. I'm so glad Cheryl was there for you both, too. It must have been heartbreaking and scary for you.
How terrifying a world that must have been for Beth. I think it would be a total nightmare to wake up and be 17 again. I can't imagine. Especially with how much different her world is today.
I hope you are feeling better soon Beth!

yanub said...

Linda, thanks for the update.

How frightening for all of you! And surreal. I am glad the Doctor was there with you, you Heathen. And very glad she was there with Beth while you were out grocery shopping.

Damned cults, putting such fear into children that it haunts their entire lives.

Lene Andersen said...

Aw, shit. I was pretty sure something was wrong, but not this wrong. Crap. So sorry you had a hard day (is calling it a hard day the understatement of the century?).

When my dad had lost pretty much all his memory, there was a long time where we liked to think he still recognized us. Maybe not as his wife and daughters, but as people who loved him. It's quite possible he forgot the minute we went out the door, but while we were there in front of him, there was a connection. It became less about specific recognition and more about the connection, of seeing soul-to-soul. And that was there until the end.

Big hugs to all of you. I hope today is much better.

cheryl g said...

Sis, I was so relieved when you woke from your nap and knew Linda and me in the context of 2008.

Interacting with the you of 1987 certainly gave me a lot of insight into the you of now but I would really rather get that insight by conversing with you in the present.

It was heartbreaking to watch the fear on "Beth of 1987's" face as I tried to reassure you that I was a friend, you were safe with me, I meant you no harm.

Linda: I am so glad I was here for both of you.

Dawn Allenbach said...

We're all here for both of you. I'm glad Cheryl was there to help.

Beth -- Rest and take it easy.

Linda -- I wish I knew what to say to help. Please accept a hug of love and friendship in place of useless put-on-a-happy-face-and-pretend-nothing's-wrong cliches.

Anna said...

I hope that you're back in 2008 now. Is it Ok to read your blog even if I don't know you?

Hope that your friend/girlfriend are OK to.

The mind works in mysterious ways. I sort of hoped that some things I forgot never will return, but apparently one can never be sure:)

Also can't help thinking of what circumstance you two grew up in, I am christian but it sounds strange to me...

I hope that you're having a good day.


shiva said...

My reaction when i read this was "Oh God, fucking hell, not again". I was really relieved when it got to the bit about present-day Beth coming back.

I used to know someone who this happened to regularly (i think her diagnosis was Dissociative Identity Disorder or something similar), i don't think physical brain damage was involved, but she, also, was physically and sexually abused as a child within a heavily religious family (and, oddly, now i think about it, looked a lot like Elizabeth as well - VERY tall, goth style, and sort of a similar looking face).

Hoping intently that Beth is fully back again soon - and, Beth, DON'T feel the need to blog or write postcards if you don't feel up to it!

Neil said...

Linda: Thank you so much for posting on Beth's behalf. That must have been hard on you; and though we realize that there will come a time when Beth is no longer herself, able to blog, etc, it's very scary to be so forcefully reminded that it's coming.

Cheryl: thanks to all the gods that you were there!!!

Beth: dear, wonderful niece Beth. What can I say? The comments from Linda explain a lot about how screwed-up your life was. It also gives us an insight into why you sometimes feel like you're a bad person.

Beth, you're NOT a bad person; you are incredibly wonderful, funny, insightful, helpful, warmhearted, and despite what you're going through, you're one of the most ALIVE people I know.

I went for a bicycle ride this morning, Beth. I got up early-ish and rode the length of Regina's Devonian pathway, both ways. I would have taken photos for you, but I was trying to do it relatively quickly. I managed to get the average speed up to 21 km/hr for a few seconds just before I turned around. In the end, I rode 27.9 km in 1 hr, 21 minutes, with an average speed of 20.7 km/hr. I did the ride before I read this blog entry, and I thought of you many times along the way.

I hope your brain is getting itself sorted out, dear, and your seizures stop. This heathen is praying for you, and still reading and caring.

Zen hugs,

FridaWrites said...

I'm glad your memory is coming back, Elizabeth. And hope you're having a good day. Ice cream sundaes are great no matter where your memory is.

And Linda and Cheryl, I admire your creative ways of making Elizabeth as comfortable as possible during while she was in 1987. That can't be easy with all those heathen books around! (Of which my house has a fair share, from children's books on up).

Judith said...

That's a rough day - thank you for updating. Thinking of you. x

Perpetual Beginner said...

I'm so sorry that both of you had such a confusing and frightening day. It's bad enough when anyone loses that much memory, but when your circumstances and outlook have changed so much in the time between it makes it doubly hard.

em said...

Oh Beth and Linda, and Cheryl, what a hard day. I'm so glad that you are coming back Beth. I had such a hard time reading this post because I want to pretend that all the crap that was told to us by ... cultish jerks is thought through by us and released. You know, healed from or overcome or something. But there it is, still living in your brain, still living in mine. It makes me mad, the kind of crap you were both fed.

Raccoon said...


Linda, I'm sorry. For both of you.

I have the most common response: "is there anything I/we can do?"

Thank you for keeping us updated.

And thank you, Cheryl, for being there and for helping.