I’ve been thinking a lot about risk lately. Just the word used to cause a shudder in my body from head to toe. Risk. I knew I needed to take it when growing up in my family if I was going to change anything. You see my father was an alcoholic. All the dysfunction you might imagine came with it. Rage, violence–verbal and physical intimidation–the codependent mother trying to keep the peace, and my sister and I, left to carve out our own niche. But you know what else? I was given twisted gifts, too. Strength, compassion, forgiveness and understanding of weakness and what it can do.
Most adult children of alcoholics or addicted parents know what I mean. We fend for ourselves. If we look all right then we are. We’re content to stay quiet even though we’d love to shout and yell for joy. We’re content to stand back, stay invisible, so we don’t bring unwanted attention to ourselves.
And what did that change?
What did it change for you when you made those decisions to stay the same?
I’ll tell you what it did for me. It wasn’t a worthless exercise. It gave me time to pause and gather my strength, analyze situations and people quicker than my peers. I was a friend who opened her doors to anyone who needed help. I knew what it was like to crave an escape. My girlfriend who was hit too hard by her husband of only one year? She and her nine month old daughter lived with me for three months. Friends from work could count on a revolving door.
What kind of risk was this for me? A BIG ONE! I was deathly afraid of making friends and letting others get too close. I forced myself to lose any expectations I put on myself and just listened.
It was one step to shed the chains of my family’s generational dysfunction.
When it comes down to it, don’t we take risks every day? Just walking out the door takes a certain amount of faith and trust, right? Working for someone else . . . we risk that we’ll be paid for the job we do. We risk sharing a private moment we won’t be rejected. We risk posting a thought. We risk writing a story, a poem, a novel. We risk that when we play an instrument we won’t be made fun of, or a drawing, sculpture or painting will be appreciated for the expression and intimate reveal we’ve put forth.
We risk everyday.
I think we’re too hard on ourselves. Loving and trusting ourself just or who we are . . . it took me a lot of years, but I did it.
And that’s what my Broken Bottles Series is about. The effects of a childhood growing up in family dysfunction are revealed slowly. I wasn’t even sure what they all were and Nicky Young, our heroine, won’t know right away, either. You may see yourself in here, you may see family or friends, you may understand them a little more deeply. Have patience. Risk takes time.
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