My childhood was chaotic.

It was still a good one overall. I survived it, and I’ve managed to meander through an okay enough life since then. It could have been otherwise given the circumstances.

My mother was young. Just 17, newly dating an immigrant from India, by way of Germany when she fell pregnant. A hasty wedding ensued to her 25 year old groom. Their marriage ended before I was a year old from what I’ve been able to gather…

Custody of me was variable, in the years when all the experts urge stability and attachment. I went first with my mother, then with her parents, then to my dad and my new step-mom…all before my sixth birthday.

I don’t know what incident exactly was the catalyst that began the musical houses tour…my mother was diagnosed as a schizophrenic when I was somewhere between 2 and 3.

My grandma told me years later that the doctors expected mom would be institutionalized for life. Whether it was medicine progressing that got her an updated diagnosis to manic depression (now called Bi-polar) or pushes for government cut-backs that led to the mental health facility closing…mom was released when I was 8.

By then I was living in Edmonton, the only half-Indian (or so I felt) in a family and neighbourhood full of brown faces. With a father who hadn’t fully left the cultural tendencies of violence toward women and children behind.

But she didn’t know that. She thought I was happy with a mommy and daddy and two little half sisters (and eventually a half brother) – so she chose to leave well enough alone and leave me there.

Meanwhile, she’d found new love in the psych ward. A criminal case, 30 years her senior. His insanity excuse for murdering his wife was accepted in light of his attempted suicide and he’d ended up meeting and wooing my mother.

Of course, I wouldn’t learn any of that until I was a rebellious teen, hellbent on escaping from the fortress of my father’s control.

Which is a story for another day…

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