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Ok, I am definitely not Rita Hayworth. However, I have an affinity for the movie The Shawshank Redemption. It is my escape, my happy pill when I find myself wondering what is going on in the Mind of Shoo. I can’t explain why I enjoy the movie so much. Nor can I explain why watching it really helps me out of the dark days life brings my way. Perhaps its the friendship between Andy and Red that makes me smile. Maybe it is how brilliant Andy was in fooling everyone during the years he carved his way out of prison. Maybe because the movie mirrors my life in the many ways:
The prison holds my mind. The large stone walls seemingly rising to the heavens. So many thoughts awaiting parole. Housed so long within the aging walls, often silent, always haunting me in the darkness of my cell.
I feel like Andy Dufresne. I am charged with a crime, which in my case is alcoholism. However I am innocent. I was not the alcoholic. But I am the one sentenced to life. Just for being part of dysfunctional upbringing. It is this upbringing that keeps me imprisoned. I, like Andy, have my moments of joy or feeling free. Like on the roof of the plate factory or listening to opera. I have my hobbies. They are numerous and varied. I have my friends, everchanging over time.
Boggs and the sisters are the characteristics that Adult Children of Alcoholic Parents suffer. As we go through our everyday life, they are there watching my every move. Waiting for the right moment to pounce. To take me against my will. Sometimes I fight them and win. Often I just give in. I am still waiting for Office Handley to rid me of these ugly character faults for good. To beat them to submission never to bother me again.
Speaking of Office Handley, I had him in the form of my father. His baton was alcohol. Using it to inflict damage both mentally or physically. Easily flying off the handle at the slightest issue. Often, he had no soul.
And I have time. Time to slowly tunnel away through rock in an effort to be free. To be free of the chaos that haunts me. Time to manipulate the world around me so I am achieve a successful breakout of my own demons that have been holding me all these years. Like Andy, I silently plan while I’m playfully outgoing and friendly. Concerning. Seeking knowledge. Waiting for my day to crawl through the sewage of life and land safely on a beautiful beach. Free from my past. Forever.
Finally, like Andy I have hope. As he writes Red in the movie, “Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good things ever dies.” I’m waiting for my Red. Whoever that may be. I’m patient, like Andy Dufresne. And hopeful
1.) Have you made a visit to the North Pole yet? Share your Santa pictures!
2.) Share a favorite Christmas memory.
3.) What cookies are you leaving for the big guy?
4.) Put together and share a fun holiday outfit you’d like to wear if you had somewhere to wear it.
5.) List the top 9 things that bring you joy.
Top 9 Things that bring you joy
1. Watching Movies: I love movies and there are certain ones that I will watch when a certain mood strikes. If I am down in the dumps, I throw in Shawshank Redemption. Nothing like a movie about friendship to make me smile. If I am in a happy mood than Juno is a must! Very witty, comical and the dialog is so well written. If I am sad, Schlinder’s List. Need I say more. If I am nostalgic then Saturday Night Fever. How about remembering how stupid you looked dancing under that disco ball!
2. Listen to birds singing. This is particularly beautiful when there is no other sound but theirs.
3. Watching a lightning storm in the evening out of a window. Being originally from Louisiana I unfortunately never viewed a lightning storm as anything joyous to me. But move away to the desert southwest and you’ll understand what beauty lies watching the sky light up with a storm. Try it!
4. Being alone. With my thoughts whether good or bad. Throw in some mountains or a river and I am in heaven.
5. Listening to music. I love listening to songs and thinking how did the artists come up with that song. Knowing that song once was just words on a paper (yes I love this phrase). Written from some meaningful experience. Some lyrics just amaze me. How could they write something so beautiful at its core. Add some nice music to it and I am mesmerized! In the Living Years….so well written. Listen to the words.
6. Reading and understanding US History. There are so many events and people responsible for our country being where it is presently. It’s great to understand our history and how things came to be.
7. Being moved to tears by stories of hope, heartache or giving. The list here is endless whether is JJ Watt visiting 3 kids who lost their parents in a car accident or learning of a teacher who died protecting her kids. Or a scene in a movie like this one in City Slickers. Listen to Bruno Kirby’s story. When Gene Hackman talks about his father leaving them on Inside the Actors studio. So touching.
8. Hiking, running or biking. Anything to make me sweat and make my body ache. I don’t do this nearly enough but I love feeling my body ache as sweat drips from my forehead onto the ground below. Accomplishment!
When I first realized and understood fully that I was “An Adult Child of An alcoholic Parent” it was mind numbing. How could it be? I was in my early 40s and felt helpless. My initial feelings was I now felt I had a something to blame for my shortcomings. Someone responsible. And it wasn’t me! But was it? I first wanted to fully comprehend what it meant to be an ACoA. So I read and tried to relate it to my life. So I decided to join a group that met at a local church. Without going into detail, my time there was uneventful. It was more about rehashing our problems from being adult children of alcoholic parents instead of ways to solve the problem. But one thing that did come out of a few of those sessions was Lake Despair.
When I first talked to the group I was a little emotional. I came up with an analogy of being in a boat in the middle of this lake. I was in, as I called it, Lake Despair. I had no paddles or means to either move or steer the this boat which also had a slow leak. I was just stuck in the middle of this calm lake. I was in this boat filled with all the issues and characteristics typical of an adult child of an alcoholic parent. Alone. On the shore of the lake were various spots that held lessons to all the problems I needed to heal. But how do I get there? I knew the problems. That was the easy part! I needed help! How do I fix things? Where do I start? I wanted a damn paddle so I could start the healing! I had been in the middle of Lake Despair for years and now I wanted to reach land and begin to heal.
Currently, I am still at Lake Despair but not floating aimlessly. I am now on the shore walking from one lesson to another around the lake. It’s a mighty big lake and also quite beautiful. It beauty grows as I reach each lesson and learn more about myself. As I hike from point to point, there are times my body aches, my mind wonders, and my feet hurt. I am often depressed and want to give up. But I want to see the all of the lake and take in its beauty! To see this, I must walk around it and navigate on land each obstacle in my path. Lake Despair is now a journey on foot. It’s a slow journey. When I reach that final point I will have circled Lake Despair. And at that moment I want to rename that lake. Lake of Hope.
I hope others find the lake earlier in their life that I did. And I hope once they find themselves in that boat, motionless without and means to move, they can see the solutions on the shore around them. I hope they can somehow reach the shore and make their own path around Lake Despair. It’s by no means an easy journey. But a certainly a fulfilling one. The journey to find the lake starts with knowing that you are an ACoA and accept that premise. Its not easy, but I promise, the lake is beautiful! Life is beautiful. Seek it.