Kathy Ewing writes with understanding and compassion
If you’ve spent time in a Cleveland Heights book group, you know there are many topics that come up. Books inspire thoughts about one’s own life. Of those many topics, a good majority of them are about families: How do you raise thoughtful, caring kids? Are men as unobservant as they sometimes seem? When is a good time to tell a family member that he or she has gone too far? And, of course, which of us was raised in the most dysfunctional family?
Kathy Ewing, a longtime member of a CH neighborhood book group, always had stories to tell that amazed and surprised. She described her dad as a kind, loving and connected—though, imperfect—parent, who became a paraplegic when he was a young father and husband.
Ewing’s mom, on the other hand, was rarely kind, loving or connected. Her mom was emotionally distant, unpredictable and deeply unhappy.
After years and years of book group meetings, Ewing began to mention borderline personality disorder (BPD). It didn’t sound too bad; just “borderline,” right?”
It turns out that BPD is pretty bad—difficult to diagnose, hard to treat, and definitely hurtful and damaging for family members. After extensive research, Ewing began putting those family stories into a heartfelt memoir, which she titled Missing: Coming to Terms with a Borderline Mother.
Published last month by Red Giant Books, Missing is a mixture of understanding and compassion, careful research and clear, concise prose.
Most impressive, perhaps, is the empathy with which Ewing treats her mother. This is no Mommie Dearest memoir. Ewing tries hard to understand her mother’s struggles, and she refrains from blaming her mother for her enigmatic, frustrating and inappropriate behavior.
Although the subject is entirely serious, Ewing occasionally infuses her writing with wry and insightful humor. The book is a welcome addition to the very short BPD shelf that currently exists in most libraries.
As she states in the book's introduction, Ewing hopes “other adult children will find a name for the confusion in which they grew up . . .” Yet, the book is a good read for everyone, not just children of BPD parents.
Missing: Coming to Terms with a Borderline Mother is available at local independent bookstores, and can be ordered online.
Robin Koslen is a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights, a friend of the author and a member of the same book discussion group.