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 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.