In 1954, Anne Sexton began struggling with recurring depression and began seeking
counseling. During the time of her counseling she (and husband, Kayo) gave birth
to their second child, Joyce Ladd Sexton, whom they nicknamed Joy. Anne wasn't ready
for the additional burden of an infant in addition to an energetic two-year old [Linda] and
a husband; her anger and depression deepened. Anne went to the hospital again in March
1956. Linda went to stay with Anne's parents, and Joyce went to Kayo's parents.
Anne returned home after a few months and so did Linda, but Joyce ended up staying at
her grandparents' house for three years. In the Summer of 1958 she returned to her
parents' house for good. She grew up to be "everybody's little sister and needed
minding. A jaunty advernturous child, she repeatedly terrorized the aduts by walking on
the narrow train trestle that crossed a nearby river. At ten she
received psychotherapy (like the rest of the family except Linda) because she was
flailing at school, unable to multiply or write cursive script. In her early teens she
was a rebel (like her mother); a pot-smoking truant. In 1970 the independent Joy had her own horse
to ride, but in the same year discovered her mother comatose from an overdose of
sleeping pills. By 15 she was a long-legged buxom lass, hanging out with the 'fast crowd.'
Joy spent more time at her father's apartment towards the end of her
mother's life, finishing boarding school, then enrolling
at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, eventually earning a nursing degree at
Simmons College. Of Anne Sexton's illness, she has said, "Mother was like wallpaper.
She plastered herself all other the walls." Joy was however forgiving of her mother, "What she couldn't give me, she made sure I got
from someone else. I also think of Mother as a survivor, fighter. She wasn't self-sufficient--
I departed from her in that. It's because of her that I've taught myself how to
plumb and wire a house, how to fix things. But she taught my soul about books. And she
was an emotional survivor, and so am I."