This is an old, old pain and one with lots of layers and a long cyclical history. Some of the tentacles are from being a "causality of war" in a family confronting its own issues and the resulting family dysfunctions and coping mechanisms that inevitably result.
As we talked something in what I shared evoked a memory in my friend of an NPR story from several years ago. Out of pure giving, a man sat on the Washington DC mall with his typewriter and listened to people's stories. He then typed up a short paragraph on what he heard, in essense giving back their story. Tears welled up in her eyes. I asked why. Her answer was, "I would be so honored to give people back their stories."
I don't know exactly what this means, but it touched a broken place in my heart. Perhaps because in some ways I feel like my family after at least 35 or 40 years of sobriety have never dealt openly with the wreckage of addiction and codependency. In the hidden turmoil, I think I lost my stories or lost those things most precious to me. Maybe this "reaching out" is a way for me to reclaim what's most meaningful to me.
Recently my city was hit by several damaging tornados. Dear friends of our neighbor lost their house. They've returned to the property several times recovering what they can and hoping to find their most precious things. (We recently heard they found a very dear 1929 banjo; a treasured possession of the wife who is an artist and musician.). We all know it's a long painful process for this family. They are grateful to be alive and now they face the destruction; sifting, sorting, remembering ... keeping, tossing ... weeping, expressing gratitude.
They can't just walk away from their house and possessions and yet it feels like my family "walked" away from the wreckage once sobriety came. Few acknowledgements of the dysfunctions that contributed to the addiction or that grew from coping with the confusion.
At lunch my friend also shared a story from the Big Book that so aptly applies. Here is the full text:
The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil. We feel a man [*or a family member] is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough. He is like the farmer who came up out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined. To his wife, he remarked, "Don't see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain't it grand the wind stopped blowin'?" (pg. 52)[* comment added by my friend.)
So I take courage from those facing the turmoil and loss from the tornados and I begin sifting through my stories. I hope to find those most precious to me even if they might show water damage, broken glass, or only a partial picture.
I am believing there is beauty even in these.
NOTE: Tornado photo courtesy KOCO.