Diana’s parents battled mental illness and divorced- her father (who turns out is not her biological father) remarried her aunt and her mother became a lesbian.
Diana grew up in an abusive household, with severe dysfunction, and pure chaos. And no one on the outside knew because Diana Cannon Ragsdale and her family were Salt Lake City Mormon dynasty with ancestors who were contemporaries of Brigham Young.
Ragsdale eventually let go of all the delusions about herself, broke free from the Mormon church, and dug into how she ended up divorced three times by age 51 with a trio of emotionally damaged kids. Now, at age 62, all is revealed in her new memoir, Loose Cannons (Legacy LaunchPad).
Diana shares 10 things her dysfunctional family taught her and how others can apply these lessons to their own lives:
1. To be more aware of my mental health, and practice self-care: If I’m not emotionally healthy, it will bleed out to other members of my family and relationships.
2. That family, friends, neighbors, and church community all lived in denial and neglected to help us kids out. Out of fear of my father, but also—denial had just become more acceptable and comfortable.
3. That I had lived in fear most of my life, and it’s destructive and damaging. I always waited for the other shoe to drop, the sky to fall, etc.
4. Mental illness is generational. At least three to four generations of reported history of mental illness. When I learned that the father who raised me was not my biological father, I was so relieved that I hadn’t inherited his mental illness.
5. Although my family had lived in chronic dysfunction and chaos, I found a way to love, accept and forgive.
6. Religion was probably good for me in my youth, and provided safety, security and healthy role models. I am grateful for that.
7. I learned that I wanted to break the cycle of abusive patterns for my kids, and grandkids to dilute the generational patterns.
8. Through my own abuse, neglect, and abandonment, all of this pain provides me with a purpose: to be a good mother and grandmother. It’s the thing I hold most dear!
9. I was born resilient and rebellious and I’m grateful for that!
10. I consciously made a choice to live my life open-heartedly, and make space for all of the people in my life. To love, rather than be angry or sad.
Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers of Self-Acceptance, Appreciation, and Personal Achievement.
We ask that contributors and experts to answer the Identity questions in keeping with our A-Game theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the current article they have written. In that way, and as a team, we hope to encourage and motivate each other, thus inspiring you to Get All A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? Additionally, what are you still working on accepting? Now, we’re not talking about resignation, but rather stepping into, embracing, and owning.
I have accepted that my family is everything to me, and no matter how dysfunctional or tumultuous our family can be-it’s worth holding on to no matter what! I still realize there is work to be done, and accept that I need to work on my own mental health at all times. This means setting boundaries with my loved ones and being present for them.
2. Appreciation is everything. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? On the other hand OR in contrast, are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on appreciating?
I have a lot to be grateful for and have learned to appreciate my journey. My journey in self-discovery, healing, and talking about difficult things. Writing my memoir has assisted me in this journey.
I continue to work on having compassion for myself, and appreciate the fact that I have the tools of counseling, and therapy to work on self-love and care.
3. Share with us one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us not only what makes YOU most proud but also share the goals and dreams that you still have.
The most rewarding achievement of my life is being a mother. I always wanted to be a mother, and it is first and foremost my proudest achievement. Being a mother, with unhealthy role models, meant that motherhood is always a very deliberate attempt. I hope that by my efforts in getting emotionally healthy, my kids and grandkids will be better for it, and successful parents too.
Diana Cannon Ragsdale is an author, retired physical therapist, and mental health advocate for survivors of abusive and dysfunctional families. Diana attended Utah State University on a dance scholarship and then several years later received her degree from the University of Utah. In retirement, she has dedicated herself to travel and creativity. Today, she lives happily in Salt Lake City, Utah is married, and is a mother of five and grandmother of eight. Loose Cannons is her first book.
Connect with Diana Cannon Ragsdale:
Official Site: www.dianaragsdale.com
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