Why Bother Sharing the Pain?

Why Bother Sharing the Pain?

A tragedy can either draw people together or it can alienate us from one another.  Our family’s tragedy, unfortunately, cut us off from each other for years. One of my sisters used the phrase, ‘silo mentality,’ a business term, that described our family after our dad’s suicide. We kept our pain to ourselves, either unable and or unwilling to share our grief process. 

        Silos

Silos are structures in which farmers store grain. Growing up in Nebraska and South Dakota, these buildings were familiar to me because they dotted the landscape. I’d often spy those structures standing alone on farmlands and they stirred up feelings of loneliness inside me. It never occurred to me that one day I’d be compared to one. Yet, the description of a silo that my sister used for our family was an accurate one.  

Though we still had a mother, she was suddenly a widow with four children still at home and seven children in need of emotional support. The load overwhelmed her and though she did the best she could, she secluded herself much of the time in her bedroom at the end of the hallway. 

We were indeed left to ourselves to process our feelings in privacy, and in isolation. Speaking from my own experience, coming to terms with our family’s calamity and moving forward in life was an arduous and unglamours undertaking. I had to untangle the anger, blame, resentment, and shame which could have literally taken my life. And that is just a glimpse of my journey. My siblings had their own as well.

But, there is one trait that all seven of us have in common and that is to survive. In spite of the shipwreck we experienced early on in our lives, none of us drowned. Instead, we all lived to talk about it, finally with each other. 

Now that all of us are mature adults, the catastrophe from the days of our youth no longer keeps us apart. Instead, it brings us together. Our bimonthly conference calls that one of my sisters has dubbed, Macek Maverick Calls, gives us a venue for remembering and sharing our individual stories of survival. Once we were silos, now we are a family putting our broken pieces together to make a whole picture. 

Why bother sharing the pain? Though our pain may isolate us for a while, it does not have to isolate us forever.

Why Bother Fasting?

Why Bother Fasting?

Every now and then again, I step away from all the stimulation, entertainment and distractions the world has to offer me and sequester myself for a day or two. Sometimes it is a sparse cabin in the woods and other times it is a warm and cozy room at a nearby monastery. Whichever destination I choose, I go alone, taking  only my journal, a few books and a change of clothes. Isolating myself from people and my regular activities is an opportune time to fast from food, and stimulates such as coffee and depressants, such as wine. 

Isolation and fasting may seem severe, as though I’m punishing myself, but taking myself away from the normal hubbub of life is a little bit like cleaning out a cluttered clothes closet. I get a chance to really look at what I want to keep and discard the items which no longer fit or clash with the rest of my attire.  

      Deciding for Myself

Life does not naturally lend itself to taking the time to consider what we really believe.  Instead, we  normally get caught up and integrated into the opinions and viewpoints of others around us. We watch T.V.,  socialize and stay current with events through newspapers or scrolling through other sources on the internet. It is easy to agree with and adopt popular thoughts, attitudes and habits of our present day culture. Yet, we may neglect how those ideas personally affect us in the long run. In essence, it is easy to move along with the rest of the herd and difficult to formulate for ourselves what we really believe and value. 

Taking time out to sit, ponder, and sort through our thoughts is important. We may not come to any earth shattering conclusions or profound new insights, but given the time and space to do so, our thoughts may surprise us. Without the distractions of computers, phones or T.V. screens, our minds can rest. Without ingesting any stimulants or depressants, our bodies find a natural energy and their resting points. 

Why bother fasting? It is worth taking the time to fast, to step away from the entertaining distractions and clean out our cluttered thinking. We may be surprised at what no longer fits or clashes with the rest of our ensemble.