Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"It is still an unending source of surprise for me how a few scribbles on a blackboard or on a piece of paper can change the course of human affairs."

How is it possible that what I write about myself, my life, my feelings, my thoughts could change the entire course of my life and relationships?

I guess it's like telling secrets. Remember in school, when someone told you a secret and if you told someone else that person's secret that person would be mad at you, sometimes forever. You maybe lost a friend forever. Just because of a stupid secret.

I think secrets are destructive, but I didn't always think that. Growing up in my family, secrets were essential to the continuing dysfunction of the family. We never told anyone ~ outsiders ~ about what happened in the confines of our family, not even aunts, uncles, cousins. Everyone was an outsider and it just wasn't allowed. It wasn't that anything sinister was going on, except for the beatings when we were punished. It was just stupid everyday things. The real sinister behaviors were the secrets themselves. It was imperative that we, as a family, project only a perfect family picture. I couldn't tell anyone that I hated school and was doing poorly."Terri's loves her teacher." I couldn't tell anyone that I was sad and lonely all the time. "Terri's a happy child. I couldn't tell anyone that I was unhappy. "Terri's fine." We didn't say those things out loud to anyone.

The funny thing is no matter how hard we'd try to keep the flaws in check and keep the warts from public view, they always showed. They were always visible. Everyone saw them anyway, because everyone else had them, too. But, in addition to the flaws and warts, we'd add denial and lies.

So what's the purpose of all this secrecy? What were we afraid of? Someone would judge us? Maybe. It happens, you know. God forbid, would someone have the courage to tell us that we'd done something wrong and offer advice on how to fix it? Yeah, that was a distinct possibility. Would someone be bold enough to tell us we may have made a mistake?? Oh, yeah! Honestly, though, I think at our deepest root, at our very core, is that we compared ourselves to how others lived their lives, how others were doing, and we felt somehow that we were lacking and inferior.

The Catch-22? While we were trying our darnedest to make everything look great from the outside, on the inside we wound up alone, isolated, and feeling even more lonely. Then when the really big stuff happened, like my mom's affair, there was no one there to talk to or lean on and say everything would be okay. There's no one to call. There's no support. We only had each other in that tiny circle. And, let me tell you, that is no where near enough.

So, I did the same thing as I grew up and had my family. Then the outsiders came to include my parents, Tom's parents and our sisters and brothers. We only talked about the good things, never the difficulties. Sadly, what happens in that environment is a vacuum is created in which you find yourself alone. You can't reach out. You can't call someone and say, "help!" for fear that you will be judged for not being able to handle a crisis, or your life for that matter.

The simple fact is, we are not supposed to keep secrets. That's why we have such a hard time keeping them in first place. When we told secrets as children, they weren't really secrets at all because we shared them with someone else; we needed to share them with someone we loved, trusted and respected.

Now, as adults, we must acknowledge we are not perfect. We do not have all the answers. We don't always act or respond to circumstances appropriately, with grace, reason and humility. We are right and wrong, generous and selfish, smart and ignorant, kind and cruel, honest and deceitful. The bottom line is we can't do it alone. We're not supposed to do it alone. We are not supposed to be silent. We are supposed to share with each other, touch each other, lean on each other, talk to one another, support one another, bring it all into the light of day and learn from one another and that is supposed to impact the course of each others lives.

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