Invisible, not seen, trying to please, always in the middle and never right up front, all of these describes a young child named Lorna Lee as she tells her story, describes her journey in life from the beginning. Starting with two separate incidents where she was struck by lightning, both at no fault of her own, Lorna takes the reader on a bumpy journey as she reveals being left behind by her husband, not needed anymore, having to find a place to live, get a mortgage for a new condo and pray she would not be homeless. Circumstances often challenge your sanity, or life or your emotions, hoping to find a place in this world and be recognized for who she is and just loved her goal. “How Was I Supposed to Know?: The Adventures of A Girl Whose Name Means Lost” sums it up in this interesting and definitely unique title. Did you ever look up what your name means? Would you wonder or stop if you realized that it meant Lost? Lost is how Lorna feels and seems throughout this memoir until something or someone changes it for her. From the start you hear her voice as each night she asks her mother to relate the story about the day she was born. Strange bedtime story! Life often presents us with situations that require more than just inner strength, hope and determination to handle them. When Lorna is struck by lightning the first time she is sent home by someone because she thought she created the situation and did not realize it was not her fault. The second time she and her dog Scrappy were caught by the lightning and how she tries to get help is really quite compelling and the fact that the 911 operator even understood her and realized she was in trouble was remarkable.
Lorna seems to have a low self-esteem as we meet her and hear her voice describing many situations that left her you might say out in the cold. Finding herself homeless and needing somewhere to provide shelter her sister Tina comes to her rescue. A father’s love is something every young child wants so why does hers disappear? Lorna tried to conform and be good? Was she really? Was it an act?
Lorna decided to strive for a life of total perfection. Now, you ask how does anyone do that? A perfect child follows the rules all the time. Sounds like me. Bad children knew the rules and did not follow them because they were stupid or breaking the rules makes them ignorant or lazy. So, Lorna opted for perfection. When she falls off of her bike or gets hurt in a monkey bar contest her creative thinking is amazing. Explaining her injuries to not only her mother but also the doctor required some fast thinking and smarts. Trying to be like the rest of the kids in school and make mistakes in math and in her homework on purpose not so smart. But, Lorna was always chubby and never really thought about it until she grew into her new body and developed into a young teen that boys noticed which can definitely changed her own perception of herself, built her self-esteem and got her more attention than she needed. She continues by explaining her family’s love of alcohol and the many times she imbibed too much herself. Diagnosed with OCD meant that her homework was perfect, her answers would never be wrong and always needing to the perfect and the best. Perfection was something she inflicted on herself. Perfection was something my mom expected of me. Not easy to live up to your own expectations or that of anyone else!
Lorna became too dependent on alcohol and you might say she tried developing a way to not drink so much but what she describes will surprise the reader because she loved to drink but she loved other things too. On pages 77-78 learn just how she mastered or tried to master Perfection to even higher levels and in what areas. Describing her relationships with her two sisters you realize that most of the time they were ill, Lorna had to sort of raise her hand to get anyone’s attention not realizing that she was the lucky one because she was so healthy. Read about her college freshman years and note that her drinking issues became more prominent. Chapter 7 tells about the man she thought she should marry and what she describes, her behaviors, the reality check from her mom should teach both adults and teens important lessons about dating and much more. Next, she did what others have done got piercings to try and change her image, and not for the better. This chapter is quite compelling and enlightening. Read it to find out why. Added in she relates information about her life plan and the three things included. From casual sex, to potential STD’s and the need for much more Lorna really bares it all to readers hoping that others will learn from her actions and avoid doing the same things. Meet Dick in Chapter 8 and you decide the rest. Next at 25 she was a sociologist and her goal was to find a man in order to have a steady relationship. Tall order! Hearing her voice telling this story makes the reader wonder when Lorna will realize just how special she really is and that she does not and never did have to prove anything to anyone including herself. Feeling like the center of a sandwich with her two sisters the outer bread it seems like she always felt squashed in the middle or not really seen. Yet, the meat or the center of the sandwich to anyone is the best part.
Lorna became a statistical research consultant still drinking to loosen herself for a first date encounter. Added in she includes on pages 121-125 and assessment of a date. The rest of the chapter focuses more on her relationship with this date named Victor, his marriage proposal and his list of conditions to “seal the deal.” Interesting preliminaries and more in the rest of Chapter 9 and the wedding in Chapter 10 followed by Chapter 11 where reality just might set in and Victor laid down the law. A friend’s home , startling revelations about herself finally come into place and an important phone call is made. Did she stick to the AA program or did she back slide? How did this affect her marriage, her job and her life? A change of jobs was next and a big promotion would boost her ego. Then, some would think it a miracle but Lorna describes her pregnancy as more like a comedy of horrors changing her appearance, body image and there was no glow attached. Poor Lorna but Victor was delighted. The rest about what pain killers she might consider at the time of the child’s birth read for yourself followed by learning to be a mom. If you want to learn whether she survived and how read Chapters 15 and 16. New job was her next quest, dealing with unfair labor practices, getting a job and even negotiating a higher salary are somewhat the author relates in Chapter 17.
Next, we learn more about her relationship with Victor, her innermost frustrations, her goals and way of handling the situations with her best friend The Martini and an old friend. Did you ever have a heart to heart with someone regarding your life, how they perceive you and how you perceive yourself? Learn more when you read Chapter 19 and seeing someone to discuss their problems. Just how it worked or did not rounds out this chapter in detail. Brain surgery, other changes and challenges and Lorna was semi-retired. Wanting to become a writer or author her next vocation but would she succeed, what about Victor’s support and that of her now teenage son, Alex. Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome greatly changed not only her life as far as her career, but her marriage too. This illness affects many parts of the body and there is no known cause. Extremely tired, neurological problems and other symptoms plague the person diagnosed with this illness which can last for many years. Not everyone’s symptoms are the same and some are often misdiagnosed because it is hard to discern between MS, Fibromyalgia, Post Polio Syndrome, Lupus or even Mono. http://www.dfwcfids.org/cfids/index.shtml. Why did Victor not bask in her recovery? Why did he seem to want her to be ill? What was really happening? Why did he decide to leave? What about their marriage? How would she cope alone? Reverting to her Buddhist teachings she tried to make sense out of many situations.
Lorna Lee presents an honest and open memoir of her life one which many can learn from. Her bouts with alcohol, depression, learning she had CFIDS changed her perspective on life, her feelings about her marriage and much more. Chapter 24 describes her life as a child, her relationship with her parents, sisters and the truth about her father’s disappearance that would make any child of ten shudder. Having Migraines I can identify with her struggle to rid herself of them. Learning more about her father and his childhood quite compelling.
How Was I Supposed to Know: Well Lorna: You are no longer lost? You are no longer alone? You found yourself and what I do know is that perfection is in the eye of the beholder and we are all perfect in some way shape or form. But, what I do know is that in writing this outstanding honest account of your life’s ups and downs you definitely achieved a FIVE GOLDEN STAR PERFECT MEMOIR REVIEW. YOU ARE TOTALLY VISIBLE! Just look at the great picture on page 396: it says it all!
Fran Lewis: reviewer