Sunday, December 12, 2010

Living the Unspoken Life

by Leann

For many, this season brings joy and bustle and connections and decorations. For me, no matter how much I understand my past, no matter how well I accept what happened and forgive those who were supposed to love me unconditionally, there are days leading up to Christmas where I am overcome with sadness. It is a sadness so deep and profound, I cannot explain it and I cannot contain it.

Some might label it self-pity, but as I explore these feelings, I don't accept that explanation. It is a wound never healed that is ripped opened at this time of year. Perhaps this happens, I think, because Christmas is about children, about giving and loving and being there for others. But there are many of us, the children of alcoholics, the children of abusers, the children who were too sensitive, and far too willing to bear the burden of all their family's dysfunction, who remember Christmas past as some of the most painful days of their lives. I know about you and you know me. We understand each other.

I have recently come to comprehend that as one famous someone said,(I honestly do not know who that is), children live the unspoken life of their parents. I take this to mean many things: you do what they could not, you are who they wished they could be, you do what you think they could not. Because you must.

Another favorite quote goes something like this: "If you want it done perfectly, ask the child of an alcoholic to do it." That is all part of the unspoken life. There is no perfect, I have learned. There is no fixing the unfixable. Yet the need remains to repair, to go back in time and to find that perfection. Impossible. A dream. A wish. Love. Magic. All the things that Christmas represents.

The unspoken life has, on a less morose note, led me to books and writing and the ability to give myself to the world and be accepted. For most of the year, that is enough. It is good. It drives me. The unspoken life of my parents, I believe, was to be the best, to achieve the most, to leave the world a better place. I hope I am living that life. But at Christmas, the sadness is almost too much to bear.

What about some of you? Do you understand? Have you been there? Are the holidays bringing more sadness than joy? How do you make it bearable?