Writing away on my own memoir, I have stopped to ask myself what perhaps others like me have asked themselves along the way: “Who will care if I do this…..is it enough that only I care?” And yes, it is enough that I care…because I am learning so much about myself by doing it. However, when I read the following words by Peter Hawkins as he introduces a chapter of “Telling Secrets” by Frederick Buechner, well-known author and writer of several memoirs, I was so inspired I knew I HAD to keep writing! Perhaps anyone else out there who may have asked him/herself the same question will find the reason to carry on.
In Peter Hawkins’ introductory notes in “Listening for God” (Vol. I), Peter says of Buechner that he tells his story so readers might recognize in it something of their own. He writes: “Buechner tells us that our lives are themselves sacred narratives, dramas, histories. Much of the past may be as painful as a father’s suicide, a mother’s withdrawal, a child’s illness. But through the redeeming powers of memory, ‘even the saddest things can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength for the journey that still lies ahead.”
Peter continues with, “Buechner wants his readers to discover that all moments are key, that life itself is grounded in the mystery of God and shot through with divine grace. Each person’s life story, therefore, is a scripture waiting to be read and interpreted, a sacred text capable of revealing nothing less than divine truth. All that is needed are eyes that see, ears that hear.
I cannot forget those words and give thanks for the renewed energy and purpose they have given me. I hope anyone pondering writing their own life story might find these words or something as meaningful to spur them onward. Let’s keep writing! Sunshine
Children of alcoholics (CoAs) are ACoAs (Adult Children of Alcoholics) in the making. Wayne Kritsberg in “The Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome” describes how children in alcoholic families learn four general rules: (1) rigidity, (2) silence, (3) denial, and (4) isolation. Claudia Black in “It Will Never Happen to Me” describes those rules as “don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel. Kritsberg indicates that even when active drinking may no longer be occurring, the four general rules mentioned above will continue to operate and will be passed from generation to generation. Because these codes of conduct become so ingrained, when these children grow up, they have a tendency to search out people who follow the same rules—and they often marry alcoholics or drug users or, at the very least, other children of alcoholics. ACoAs are four times more likely to become alcoholics than the general population. Four out of five ACoAs will marry an alcoholic. Christine Adams said in an article in ‘Marriage and Family Living” that only five percent of ACoAs get help. I was one of the lucky ones who married a wonderful, non-drinking man who had inspired and encouraged my journey toward wholeness.
I am an ACoA. When I graduated from high school and could at last leave the alcoholic home, I thought I was able to leave all that chaos, abuse, and unhappiness behind. But it took me some time to realize I carried all the above carefully-learned survival techniques right along with me. They impacted my view of the world, of people, and of myself and my dreams. It impacted important life and career decisions and dramatically shaped my future. When I saw some of those self-limiting qualities showing up in my daughters, I was aghast. They were growing up in a peace-filled non-alcoholic home that my husband and I had lovingly created. . . . why would they act like children in a alcoholic home do? Then I got it: I was their model—my behavior and actions had spoken louder than words! The cycle was in full swing and would go on repeating itself. I wanted to break it if possible.
If I could say one thing to anyone living now in an alcoholic home or who lived in one as a child, read some of the phenomenal books out there on this topic……you owe it to yourself to know what happened to you because of what you experienced. Talk to someone who knows about these things or is a therapist who can help. Do it as a favor to yourself and your future….but especially as a favor to any children you might have. Do all you can to stop the cycle, or you may see it live on in the children, the grandchildren, and more.
Two books mentioned above are good and there are many, many others…just google “children of alcoholics” or “adult children of alcoholics.” Reading the stories of ACoAs can be enlightening too. I am presently writing mine…..it’s nearing completion. I’ll write some vignettes in coming posts. Blessings and perseverance! It is a journey worth taking! Sonvy