Baggage Check

Maybe we all go through life a little bit scarred.  Maybe we all carry around some of the baggage from our formative years that we just can’t put down.  Some obviously have a harder time with this than others.  Some may have had little or no trauma in their lives, and some may truly be scarred for life.

Now, in my mid-50’s (yikes, just when did that happen?) I can report honestly that I try not to let my past get in my way.  Sometimes it happens anyway.  Maybe it’s inevitable.

Just this week I have realized, all too pointedly, that some people may never outgrow the evils perpetrated upon them by their parents.  Their darkest moments as children may resurface decades later in some of the most unexpected ways.  Individuals, couples, and families may be struggling with powerful issues they can’t shake off:  insecurity, loneliness, abandonment.

Because I can no longer stop myself from writing, I am now in the midst of capturing some of my own childhood in words.  To put it in counseling speak:  my family of origin certainly did a good job of hiding some of its dysfunctional aspects from the rest of the world.  And now, decades later, these words are literally pouring from my brain through my fingertips and onto the blank pages on my screen.  Pouring from a faucet that is impossible to turn off.

A happier moment in 1967.

A happier moment in 1967.

There are a few people in this world who already know the story – my siblings and a handful of close, long-time friends.  And I acknowledge that this memoir is something I may never show to anyone.  Yet I can’t stop writing.  I am watching the re-runs in my head and trying to capture every scene on paper; the fabulous and the terrible.  It’s a wonderful and horrible obsession.  Maybe in some ways this is therapy.

Growing up is not easy sometimes.  The main reason is that parents are people, too.  Mine were not perfect, but only in this long distance hindsight do I see clearly how many struggles they really had.  It has taken an adult assessment to look honestly and critically and find some perspective.

So I write.  I have not chosen to tackle this very personal look at alcoholism.  It has chosen me.

But here is my greatest wish:  that my husband and I have passed along as few of our own demons as possible to our children.  They deserve better.  I would like nothing better than for them to think back on their growing up years as mainly happy and healthy.  I hope even their worst childhood memories are not too traumatic.

Each of us comes with some flaws.  Having spent a considerable amount of time facing down my own over the years, I will not bore you with those details.  In addition, I refuse to lay any blame for my own troubles at the feet of my parents.  Instead, I very firmly believe that stuff happens; and after that, life is what we make of it.   Sure, our choices may be colored by our past.  But as adults we have to own those choices.

So if I choose less drama it’s because I’ve already had enough to last a lifetime.  Peace is very compelling.  I wonder if someday I can find it within my own head.