Why the hell am I doing this? I’ve asked myself this question several times over the last few days and yesterday may have shed some light on my reasons. I sat down with a client and as we talked about his current relapse (he’s struggled with heroin on and off for several years) and probation issues, he asked that I review some paperwork regarding his inheritance. He wanted to make sure that he wasn’t being fed a bunch of crap and that the paperwork was “legit.” I read through the packet of legal documents and after finding a couple of mistakes that appeared to be due to the recycling of a form letter, I assured him that the paperwork granted him his fair share of the inheritance and the packet was all legit.
Once we finished, I couldn’t help but see the irony in the situation: Here I’ve been spending a lot of time looking into the past to uncover the historical significance and relationship of the land and our current systemic struggle with opiates, yet here I was in 2015 discussing PTSD, heroin, and land. I was in a little coffee shop discussing the very things about which I’m researching and presenting. Again, I’m not much for coincidences; I can’t help but feel like there’s some spirit guiding my actions. Could it be that I’ve tapped into the vein of my destiny’s path? Maybe I’m reading too much into my work, but the simple truth is that I’m not as passionate about anything else the way I’ve been about this topic.
Plus, I was able to gather more information regarding my ancestors. Thanks to the archive researcher at the Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas (what was once known as the NM Sanitarium), I’ve confirmed that my great-great-grandfather spent time in the facility on and off between 1912 and 1913. What was interesting is that it appeared that one of his stays at the facility was court mandated. This new information has provided me with another avenue to research: I plan on reviewing Santa Fe court archives to see if there’s any record of his crime. Based upon the information recorded at the facility, he was in two other times, once for “exhaustion” and once for “paranoia.” I need to find to find out the context of those diagnoses. I suspect that they’re Freudian in nature, but I’d like to be certain of their historical meaning. Again, two other “coincidences” that I don’t believe aren’t really coincidences: 1) NM became a state on January 6th, 1912 and Jose Inez was listed as a farmer, and went in for the first time on February 13th, 1912; and, 2) Ancestry.com listed Maria Dolores’ death date as September 16th, 1913, and Jose Inez went in for his third time on September 30th, 1913.
The reason I don’t think either are coincidences are that, in the case of the first scenario, since Jose Inez was a farmer, and since Spanish families were being evicted from what had become a Pueblo in San Ildefonso, he no longer had means of providing for his family, as he no longer had land to farm. It’s consistent that he would suffer “exhaustion” based upon the stress of losing his life’s work. In the second scenario, if it’s true that Maria Dolores did hang herself and Jose Inez cut her down, then it’s also consistent that Jose Inez would have developed some form of emotional disturbance in the wake of what was a traumatic event.
So, to review: I meet with a client who suffers with PTSD and abuses opiates who’s poised to receive land in an inheritance on the same day I learn that my great-great-grandfather struggled with what could be PTSD and lost his land. He didn’t abuse opiates, but I’m willing to bet he drank a bunch of booze. Land, trauma, and substance abuse haunt Northern New Mexico much in the same way Maria Dolores and San Ildefonso haunt me.
This pursuit to find out what happened to my Grandma’s land and also what happened, really, to my great-great grandmother continues. I’ve spent so much time in the State Records and Archives center over the last few days that I could be named “Associate State Historian in Charge of Researching Ghosts.” The sad part of this research is that the story of Jose Inez hearing his wife crying in the courtyard is just that – a story that my Grandma told because there’s no record that Maria Dolores Quintana was ever at the Las Vegas Sanitarium. Perhaps it was the story of a delusional man, or perhaps my Grandma told it was a way to comfort herself. Maybe I shouldn’t have dug into the story, but I see its value and the possibility remains that she was in the facility, there’s just no record of it.
So, the question remains, why am I doing this? I’m doing it because I believe that social and genetic programming in this region has created a community containing “embedded” traumas. This community seeks relief from this embedded trauma through an unconscious drive towards unhealthy behaviors, including opiate abuse. Also, this social and genetic programming has led to generational poverty, which contributes to the region’s struggle with opiate addiction (Rio Arriba County has the highest per capita opiate-related death rate in the nation).
And the more I dig and the more I talk with people, I learn that I’m not the only one who has that belief. In time, I hope to be able to not only present my case, but offer enough evidence that this regional trauma consciousness MUST BE accounted for within a treatment program. If I fail, I will be doing an injustice to both the present day problem and to my ancestors who are not resting in peace because theirs was an unjust death. The frustrating part of this undertaking is that right now, I have more suspicions and ghosts than I do anything concrete. A hunch does make not a clinical case.