Yesterday I went to my second therapy appointment, and this session is where the work started that I asked for. Even now, I am shamed as I consider writing anything that I talked about or experienced. I have potentially 7 friends that that know about this blog and they could judge or pity me. I imagine my friends to have normal happy past and I carry a train wreck inside, buried but smoldering.
Yet, for the strangers out there that search for a sobriety blog, I imagine my past may not be that different or if it is, they have their own pain, so their reactions will be caring, understanding. Strangers are safer, strangers have always been safer. I struggle and crave empathy and perspective about my experiences, but I realize how well trained in silent shame I am. I would ask the question, why don't I trust my friends with my pain, well therapy session #2 topic helped me understand that.
Why am I ashamed for a childhood I had no control of? Because it somehow reflects on me, because I want to protect my family from judgement, because it isn't perfect-and perfection equals praise, love, worthiness. Ugh. So the first thing we started with was the death of my younger sister the day after my 6th birthday. It was an terrible sudden accident and I believe it is the ground zero of my family's silent shame-from here on out we each suffered, coped and survived isolated from each other. Her ghost was there and not addressed, creating a wider and wider gulf between each of us, laying the groundwork for so many other tragic events that scarred my family further into emotional isolation. It is no wonder I don't know how to receive caring empathy or sympathy. My family just carries on with the exterior of being fine, we didn't comfort and share the pain, we silence it, hoping if we don't see it in others it will lessen it within ourselves. I think of Dar William's song "Iowa:"
But way back where I come from we never mean to bother
We don't like to make our passions other peoples concern
And we walk in the world of safe people
And at night we walk into our houses and burn
That's enough for now. I have to go to work. Pack it back in, stuff back down. "Similes everyone!" And the performance of happy and normal and fine begins as I get off the bus to start my Tuesday morning smiling, just fine.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp