Early in my first pregnancy, it seemed that everyone was talking about babies. And there were pregnant women everywhere…all of the sudden. Or at least, that was my perception. Pregnancy is scary and exciting. There is so much joy involved that it spills over and people want to rub your belly and tell you about their first pregnancy or their sixth. Tall tales get spun from martyred mothers everywhere who spent record hours in labor before the perfect child entered the world.
You know it is true.
I think this happens every time that you begin a new chapter in life. When you get your first job. When you get married. Later, when your parents get older. It also happens for those struck by disease or disaster. All of the sudden, you become aware of the conversations about your current situation in life.
However, when a loved one is suffering from an addiction or mental illness, we often speak in code. We have a language that is subtle. It isn’t hiding exactly; it just lurks in the shadows. My feelings about this topic are ambivalent. I am appreciative that the veil exists when a new parent comes in feeling lost, alone and full of shame and needs time and space for healing. I like that each person can choose how much he or she shares.
But, the idea that we need to hide because of the judgment really frustrates me.
Since ‘working my program’ , I realize that we are all addicted to one thing or another. We are all broken. I once read that the percentage of dysfunctional families was in the nineties. I always assumed that I was in a big block of ‘normal folks’…until I knew better. So, we all need recovery. Most of us, just don’t know it yet.
Anyway, I was reading a novel yesterday. The author, Fredrik Backman, is from Sweden and this is only his second book. I loved his first book, “A Man Called Ove”. His second book, “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” was a delight to read. It is the story of an unusual grandmother and the strong bond she shares with her unusual granddaughter and all of the odd people who live in their circle. It is a book that speaks my language.
At the books conclusion, tucked into the epilogue, I read this paragraph:
“And they do what they can. Try to learn to live with themselves, try to live rather than just existing. They go to meetings. They tell their stories. No one knows if this is the way they are going to mend everything that’s broken inside them, but at least it’s a way towards something. It helps them to breathe.”
and I knew why this book spoke to me so clearly. It is because whether intentional or not, the writer speaks the language of recovery. He doesn’t have to say what kind of meetings. I now know that failing to accept powerlessness lies at the heart of all of our problems. It’s just one step, but it’s a mighty important one.
I think recovery might be everywhere too. We just need the courage to find it.
I am a daughter, sister, aunt, mother and probably most notoriously, ‘the Vet’s wife’.