Why do we try and make people "god-like" with the secrets we keep. Never telling the whole story?
Nothing we do in our lives controls us as much as our family secrets. They give us our identity and our function in the community. So many secrets that shame an individual are carried like a badge of honor. Like a war veteran they have moved on and never looked back. They have never wanted to use the “tools” available to them to come to grips with the past. To do so, would destroy that perfect family image, which has been carried on for generations.
12-step fellowships would tell you not to dwell on the past, but don’t forget it either. I believe that the only way to get the past out of the way is to meet it head on. To acknowledge the pain and come to an acceptance of it. Only then can we move forward. The sad part is, to move forward, we need to throw away everything we ever learned. Mainly – to keep the secrets. With my books and writings, more of my family secrets are coming out. In the eyes of my family this has made me a traitor. Is it wrong to acknowledge my pain and say I will not be the keeper of these secrets anymore?
When I quit drinking I had to bury many parts of myself. If I wanted to be a functioning member of society my outlook on life had to change. I basically had to be “reprogrammed.” And part of this training was to meet my past, remember the abuse and the pain, then and only then would I be able to move forward.
By sharing these events through stories, poems, and books; I was able to say that these secrets were no longer mine, and I could bury my past. But along the way, I also realized that I was finally able to bury my parents. They were removed from their god-like pedestal and were now on equal terms with me. I was able finally to see that my parents weren’t pure evil; they were like me – flawed and defective. They were in essence “Damaged Merchandise.”
I also began to wonder how many secrets they carried through their lives. What happened to them as children? I’ll never know, they never shared with me their past. My grandparents were all dead and buried before I had a chance to know them and the only time my parents spoke about them was in drunken rages. How many secrets and what kind of horrors did they experience? I’ll never know, but I do understand my parents did the best they could with what they had.
The reason for writing this article right now is to clear up some confusion in my own mind. On Christmas Eve, I got an e-mail from one of my brothers. Saying he would never buy one of my books because he left the past and has never looked back. He went on to say that he didn’t see our parents as “f***** up” it was just “the times.” Not once in his letter did he call me a liar. He knows that what I am saying is the truth; he is just trying to find some means to justify – to continue to accept responsibility for our parents actions.
He also went on to say “that he had it worse then me.” Kind of saying be a man and move on! I won’t compare our childhoods; I won’t get caught in that game. All I can say is that I know how my childhood was and if he had it worse – I am truly sorry. No one should ever have to go through that experience.
I’m not quite sure what he meant by saying “it was the times.” Does that mean at some time it was OK to beat your spouse? Does that mean at some time it was OK to use your child as a sexual object? Does that mean at some time it was OK for the child to be beaten? Maybe at one time, people looked the other way, but at no time was it ever OK.
I have done things as a drunk that I’m ashamed of and embarrassed by; but I’ve come to accept responsibility for these actions, asked for forgiveness and have moved on. I do not believe I could have done this until I was able to come to some understanding of my past.
I don’t believe it made me less of a man to want to truly experience that pain for the first time in my life. I don’t believe it made me less of a man to be able to cry after letting these secrets go and finally being able to forgive my parents.
I will continue my journey, on the path that has been set for me. It continues to evolve and change. But most importantly, it continues to enlighten me.