I couldn’t sleep, you know how it is – things on my mind…
I am searching for a new career path; a new vision, a new way forward; to be gripped by fervent energy in self-realisation.
Throughout my life, looking back, I suppose I have been engaged in this dance of playing with the tide, at the water’s edge, that is, trying to bury my past, and realising the ‘terrible’ strength, that came from it.
ACA (Adult children of alcoholics) members will recognise, I’m sure, this ambivalence of feeling; this pride in survival, coupled with a need to hide the real personal history of family abuse, and distorted development, inflicted by the dysfunctional results of living with an alcoholic parent.
Shame, of course, is that feeling, learned so early on in life, which means that you never quite trust anyone, or anything, ever again. You can never accept anything as just, ‘good’, or uncomplicated. Good things don’t happen. You are conditioned away from belief in fairy tales at a very early age, and disappointment and fear of what comes next, dictate the self-protective attitude of cynicism. You have to work at being ‘happy’, and fight off continually, the bogey of depression. You are constantly saddened, and unable to ignore great grief and suffering of anyone in the world, and absorb everyone’s trauma like a sponge.
Can that self-awareness, that sensitivity be useful; actually be a positive force? It wasn’t a positive experience – can it be a thing to be proud of? How can abject suffering ever be turned into anything good?
I chew it over; I look for evidence; I try to find people of spiritual strength to feed my need for evidence of survival over de-humanising experience. How can we turn this wretched and deplorable and miserable cruelty into an asset of a kind? ‘Turn the lemons into lemonade’ said my Caribbean friends, of anything adverse.
Looking towards coming to the Nacoa AGM, I am reminded of my experience of the study of identity, as researched, in my consciousness, in the 80s. At the time, I had embarked on a course of teacher training, and was studying world religions, and minority communities in Britain. I became particularly interested in Judaism; Jewish people being particular ‘experts’ on physical and spiritual survival, and their people having as their legacy, a whole body of wisdom and experience in the most degraded and dehumanised of circumstances.
A logical progression of that thought, is that ‘children of alcoholics’, form a DIASPORA of a kind; a survivors group; and that inspirational thought and definition of identity thus begets the idea that, once that awareness is claimed, I have a ‘family’…and, I am reminded of literary descriptions of physical ‘homecomings’, as described by Jewish writers, or any writer of any minority culture, who re-acquainted with his roots…. Finally!
So, I look forward to meeting my ‘family’; to my positive role models, my sisters and brothers in survival, catharsis and re-birth? Indeed, I am excited about it. As the women’s movement identified that, owing to centuries of historic oppression, then ‘there is only one woman’, it follows, does it not, that the experience of children of alcoholics is universal, and it’s composition is the same story…more or less. ‘Unity is strength’, regales me as a triumphalist cry as I allow my mind the joy of imminent release in shared-‘shame’, bloodletting of years of locked-in repression.
I look forward to finding ‘me’; the woman I was meant to be; to being affirmed in my journey. I didn’t know what I was looking for, and had almost given up. Now I know; it’s me!
I HAVE GIVEN UP SUFFERING!