Grandma Ollie, Grandpa Clyde, Aunt Margie, Mom, Uncle Donald 1942

Roots or No Roots. That is the Question

Anita in Red Rock Canyon, CA, 1980s

Originally Posted August 25, 2009

A woman I like and have a lot of respect for, P…, comes to a lot of my seminars, workshops, and such and has always stood out tp me as exceptional. She is educated, a serious spiritual seeker, and seems to always get it. Although, I’m sure, like all of us, there are emotional blinders, challenges, and obstacles in her way, she seems to be able to put aside enough in order to take an objective (as objective as anyone can be) look at what needs to be done to progress, change, and grow.

She and I  have some beliefs in common, and a lot beliefs that are worlds apart but we have respect for each other and don’t require  agreement on many issues in order to remain friends. P… has had a stable life, has put down roots, had a life with continuity. She has learned that she can count on things not to be in upheaval. She exudes an air of quiet confidence and is one of those people, I have labeled, “comfortable in her body.” I like that in a person.

Life in Flux…. Mom, Dad, and Bro

My life, on the other hand has been one drastic change after another. During childhood our family moved constantly from city to city. This gave me a rather unique perspective on life. I rarely made close friends and never became attached to whatever home we lived in.

Helen Lupien…My Mom

My mother, who was definitely out of step with the rest of the world, taught me to operate OUIJA board when I was only five years old. I learned to read Tarot cards at the tender age of eight. Although I was born with the ability to see spirits, Mother taught me how to effectively communicate with them. She didn’t have many close friends because she was so different from most other people we met. Often, we just had each other.

Mom and Dad on their Wedding Day 1946

My father, a genetic alcoholic, moved from one job to the other on a regular basis. He was a brake mechanic for those monster trucks that I’m always sure are going to crush me on the highway.  Fortunately for our family, Dad wasn’t an angry drunk. He was never physically abusive. He was the party animal, happy and jolly when drinking. When sober, he was somber, and perhaps depressed. He was often distant and verbally abusive, possibly because he resented my mother, and I was just like her. Took a lot of years of working on myself to let go of blaming him for my troubles.

My Brother, Stan
My brother, Stanley, before he became an impossible human being.

My younger brother developed the genetic alcoholism that afflicts all of the men in my family. He died at age 25 of acute liver disease and an overdose of drugs. We were relieved when he died. Sound awful? Well, since I have chosen to believe in an afterlife and reincarnation, I think he exited his miserable life so that he could rethink what he had done and learn to do it better the next time. In the meantime, our lives were no longer made miserable because of him.

I saw and spoke to him a lot for a few years after he died. He was contrite and made me understand more about how the human mind/brain can be in opposition to the spirit mind. He’s not so bad as a spirit. Now, he’s gone on. I don’t hear from him anymore.

Reflecting on Rootless

Anyway, reflecting on my life has led me to the realization that I have no roots. I have no place I call “Home” with a capital H. Even my ethnicity is so mixed I can fit in nearly anywhere in the world – French, English, Irish, Scotch, Native American (I think, Chippewa and Apache). Also, my aunt, a genealogist, told me that I have a smattering of German in there too. I  have lived in nearly every town and city in Southern California. I’ve even moved three times in one year once. I’ve had five husbands and ended  several engagements before making the ultimate mistake. In the between times, I had a lot of lovers. Hey, I’m an ex-hippie, child of the sixties and seventies. It’s what nearly everyone did then.

Realizing how rootless I am makes me wonder what my life would be like if I had grown up with a stable life and an ethnic identity. In the years when I worked at a soul-sucking corporate job from hell, one of my coworkers was a nice young man who was born in Upland, CA, married and bought a house two doors down from his family home, held one job for a bazillion years, then took a second one when his company folded. One marriage, stable and happy. On top of that, he was Italian through and through. I found him fascinating.

Wow, talk about two people from different planets! I started thinking, I have no identity. I have no global family. I have no home town, extended family, or ethnic identity. Did that bother me? Not really. Although I wondered what it would be like, how I would be different, how life would be different if I could say, for example, “I’m a proud Native American of the Chippewa nation,” or  identify with the French as my extended family.  Would I feel more complete? Would my life be  different?

I also wondered if I am missing out on having a close family. I had my mother, whom I lived with and cared for during her slide into dementia and physical decline. Before that, we saw each other a lot. I loved my mother, not only for the obvious biologically driven reason but also  because I recognized the sacrifices she made for me as a child.

I wouldn’t let her suffer or be alone just because she became mentally unstable and physically challenged. I knew that she really needed someone to look out for her, and that someone had to be me. I was her only living child. No one else was going to do it. Relationships between mothers and daughters are nearly always messy and complex, fraught with paradoxes, and contradictions. Mine was no different. I am grateful for the lessons she taught me about compassion, duty, and tolerance.

Ah…the Relatives

I barely know any of my relatives. They are scattered around Oklahoma and Kansas, and parts unknown to me. Nor, do I want to know them, except for my cousin, Carol—a kindred soul. Most of my extended family members are what Mother termed, Bible thumping, Church-a-Christers. Decent folk, but definitely not able to understand anything my life is about.

But, what if I had the kind of close-knit family many of the people I know have?. These people are close to their large families. They go to family gatherings such as birthday parties for nieces and nephews. They attend weddings, anniversaries, funerals, and such. Their holidays are full of people and celebrations. And they seem to love it. Well, some of them do. I do know some people who hate it but feel trapped.

All I can say, after musing about family, and imagining what my life would be like is “Thank the universal forces that I don’t have a big family.” To me an extended close-knit family would probably feel like a people prison. All that energy going out to other people…. When I think about it, I shiver.  It might be different if I really liked my family—maybe not.  I neither like, nor dislike my relatives. They are mostly strangers with different values, ideals, and experiences from mine. I don’t feel obligated to include someone in my life simply because we share DNA. It is a freeing concept. I like it.

In-Law Family–Heaven or Hell?

With my first husband (married him at 18), I was a part of a sort-of close family. We had to attend every function. Going off on your own for a vacation around a holiday was frowned upon. The grandmother was a powerful matriarch. What she said was law. I liked her, a spunky white haired lady of true grit and dynamism. She delivered her own first child. I always thought of her as being like the pioneer women who crossed the country on the Oregon trail. Simple, no nonsense, but kind and thoughtful to everyone she deemed worthy of her attention (just an archetypal fantasy, I know). She got me hooked on the TV daytime drama,  General Hospital for may years. Still, I was not attached to having her like me, nor did I feel a personal obligation to please the family. When I left that marriage, I had no regrets.

The Horse of a Different Color Family

Some of my clients, who are stuck in family hell, confess that to me that they stay in the family Bedlam because they don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings, or that they don’t want their family to think ill of them or be mad at them. That’s alien  to my way of thinking. I figure, people are going to be mad if they want to. If I’m not hurting them physically, financially, or being outright abusive. If they get angry because I don’t come to Christmas dinner, it’s their problem. Also, I’ve rarely cared much what people thought about me. We all have our own belief maps. People will believe what they want to and gather “evidence” in the to support it. Just look at the craziness people believe about religion.

So, I guess, after regurgitating all this confetti, I’ve come to the conclusion that having no roots, no close family ties, and no ethnic identity, is freeing and expansive. Perhaps it has allowed me to grow in ways that I might not have if things were different. Perhaps, my friend with the stable Italian family would have been a master sculptor, or a world leader if he had a different life. And perhaps because of my friend, P’s stable life, she is able to concentrate on her growth without having to deal with an unstable outer life. Who knows. All I know is that the more I know, the more I know how vast is the sea of what I don’t know. And I especially know that everything I said about my feelings, and character are not always true either.

Thanks for reading.


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