[ FAMILY HISTORY ]
London’s family line is an in the flesh example of the cycle of poverty, substance abuse, violence, and its consequences. Her mother, Miri Marlowe, grew up with two alcoholic parents in Cincinnati, Ohio who barely acknowledged her existence, let alone provided for her most basic needs or gave her any sort of affection. According to Miri, her own mother told her the only reason Miri was born was because her mother underestimated how far along she was when she sought an abortion and she believed no one would adopt Miri if they knew how much her mother drank during her pregnancy.
Miri’s earliest memories involved observing both parents either passed out, beating each other up, or beating her. During those rare periods when her parents were able to hold down jobs as a waitress and simple handyman, respectively, Miri was left in the care of random neighbors or drug using acquaintances of her parents, who themselves were neglectful and in some cases, sexually abusive. During Miri’s childhood, teachers weren’t as attentive to child abuse and neglect, but even if they had been, Miri came from a long line of Marlowes who were labeled “trailer trash smart asses” who were criminals that had defiantly resisted any attempts by “the government” to tell them how to live their lives.
By the time Miri turned 16, she had dropped out of school and was living on the streets. Having decided life on her own couldn’t be any worse than what she had experienced in the first 16 years of her life, Miri made the decision to turn to prostitution to make money to survive. It wasn’t long before Miri met her Romeo pimp, who promised to love her and take care of her mere hours before he beat her and gave her to his friends to “break in.”
For the next two years, Miri’s life consisted of what seemed like the endless repetition of the same awful day over and over again. Eventually, Miri was arrested for the first time for prostitution and possession. Traumatized and strung out, she didn’t believe the nurse who told her she was pregnant by some rapist john, but she was filled with relief when the judge sentenced her to a residential program out of consideration for her circumstances and her lack of prior criminal history.
[ CHILDHOOD ]
January 22, 1976
London Kyler Marlowe is born a healthy 7lbs, 6 ounces at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, thanks to the His Honor, Judge Charles Ridley, and his wife, Elizabeth Ridley, Miri’s social worker, who grant Miri a placement at the Bishop Maternity Home. London is named after the foreign city her mother would most like to visit someday. February 1, 1976
Miri and a newborn London move into the maternity home’s transitional shelter, where for the next two years, the two are allowed to stay while Miri completes her GED, finds work as an administrative assistant, and saves money toward an apartment of their own. February 1, 1978
Miri and two year old London leave the shelter and move into a small but comfortable apartment. Miri works as an admin assistant and a waitress at a local diner by night while London spends most of her time in daycare. Social worker Elizabeth Ridley continues to periodically check- in out of concern for London. 1980 – 1983
The financial strain and stress of single parenthood begin to take its toll on Miri, and it isn’t long before she resumes her old bad habits. London is removed 3 times over the next 3 years due to parental neglect. March 1984
In an unusual turn of events, Miri is convicted of murdering a john and sentenced to life in prison. Miri implores her former social worker and her husband, the benevolent judge, to adopt 8 year old London and raise her as their own. The formerly childless couple can’t deny their feelings for London, and agree. London visits her mother for the first time with glass between them in the visitor’s area. She is outwardly shy but inwardly seething over her mother’s abandonment. December 1984
Now officially London Kyler Ridley, the family of three moves to Kodiak, Alaska to give their daughter a fresh start. 1984 – 1991
London attends elementary and middle school. She is a top student with lots of friends, but counselors express concern that she isn’t entirely bonding with her new family and seems to carry a great deal of anger over her biological mother’s absence. London expresses fierce affection and gratitude toward her adoptive parents but acknowledges feelings of confusion and anger. Miri continues to reach out to London by mail, but most letters go unanswered. September 1991 – May 1993
London completes her first two years of high school and quickly distinguishes herself at the top of her class. She isn’t in the most popular crowd, but she develops a close circle of friends and is active in the academic honor society, debate club and student service organizations. A class project on her family tree re-ignites her interest in her biological mother. May 1994 – August 1994
The summer of her junior year in high school London asks to return to Ohio to visit her mother whenever she can over the break. She expresses a desire to hear her mother’s side of the story of London’s life, and the Ridleys agree, relieved London may finally let go of her underlying anger and depression. The visits are tense at first, but as Miri starts to recount the circumstances that led to her choices and imprisonment, London begins to feel more empathetic toward her mother and to become more aware of how easily vulnerable and traumatized people can fall through the cracks of the system. Her mother does not make excuses for her crimes and the two begin to bond again as mother and daughter. May 1995
London graduates high school in the top ten percent of her class. She is shocked to learn she has been accepted to her “pie in the sky” college, Harvard University, which she attributes to her excellent grades and raw essay about her life as the child of an addict. She calls her biological mother to tell her the good news and to plan their summer visit and is devastated to learn her mother died. The official word from the prison is she overdosed, but London isn’t convinced, having heard from her mother all about the abusive and corrupt practices by staff on inmates. Still, she has no evidence either way and is left dazed and in shock.
[ PERSONAL HISTORY ]
September 1995 – June 1999
Following her mother’s death, London is eager for a fresh start and throws herself into her studies in Boston. As a biology major and a pre-medicine student, she finds herself in the toughest academic program she has ever encountered and she has virtually no social life. For four years, she suppresses her grief, only talking to her parents on any sort of regular basis. July 1999
London learns she has been accepted to Harvard Medical School. A trusted professor reaches out to express concern for London’s welfare as by now she has dropped 30 lbs. and is looking frail. London agrees to enter grief counseling and ultimately comes to respect and admire the therapist who helps her process her trauma. This experience shapes the course of her future career. September 1999 – June 2003
London completes medical school and graduates in the top twenty percent of her class. June 2003 – June 2007
She is selected to complete her psychiatric residency with Massachusetts General Hospital. During this time, she gains exposure to a broad range of psychiatric specialties, including neurology, adult inpatient psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry (inpatient and outpatient), emergency psychiatry, psychiatric consultation, addiction, psychiatry in correctional settings and community psychiatry. June 2007 – June 2009
London is selected for dual Trauma and Forensic Psychiatry Fellowships. During this period, she continues to assess and treat inmates in the local area jails but also gains experience assessing and treating juvenile offenders, completing threat assessments and providing expertise in other civil and criminal court matters. Her favorite rotation, working with the Boston Police Department, teaches her how to compile psychological profiles and how to assist traumatized victims, witnesses, and officers alike. June 2009 – 2013
Upon completion of her fellowship, London accepts a position as a forensic psychiatrist and victim advocate with the Massachusetts State Police. She enjoys the opportunity to continue the work begun during her fellowship on a much larger scale, and she also appreciates the variety of her work, but the experience also helps her realize her passion for working with a specific group of trauma survivors: domestic and sexual violence survivors. 2013 – 2015
London ultimately leaves the MSP to take a position as the senior clinician with the Boston Area Domestic and Sexual Violence Center. In her position, she provides crisis counseling and safety planning to survivors, individual and group therapy for survivors and their non-offending family members, develops and facilitates support groups, and provides medical and legal accompaniment as needed. It is rewarding but ultimately emotionally taxing work, and after so many years away from her family, London knows it is time to come home to Alaska. 2016 - 2017
London has taken a job as a clinical and forensic psychiatric consultant with Storm Shelter Air & Rescue. and provides psychiatric services with Horse N Buggy MedCare. London believes she can be of use to both companies given her combined skills while enjoying a somewhat slower pace and better benefits. The chance to reconnect with her family is also priceless to her.