|Where the story took place...|
In my case, the bitterness is mostly gone, but the sorrow and the love remain. Both are healed. Both are as fresh as ever. To be learning again from stories one thought were over is actually a gift we can claim at any time. We can break them open with a new perspective. We can let life change the lens. We can heal them by seeing them in a different light, removing judgment, bitterness, self-loathing and doubt, from that lens. I think one of my hopes in writing this book is that it is an invitation for the kind of revisiting of our own life stories that can free them from some of the awful distortions that come from this repressive, fearful, culture. We are in crisis mode here in this world; how do we want to go about living in that? Hiding so much truth about ourselves is not equipping us well to deal truthfully with that crisis.
|Mother and daughter|
The way of life of the post-World War II 'middle class,' the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of immigrants, war veterans, and people shaped by the shock and misery of the Great Depression was built on fiercely repressed narratives of loss and shame, humiliation and rejection of the past, tearing up of immigrant roots and therefore identity and 'place,' trauma and extremely difficult family stories.
The baby-boomers were given a load to bear here. We were made to serve that repression and to prove to them that their attempts to rise out of all that pain and shame worked, to erase it from our own histories and consciousness, to never see them in the negative light of their real internal pain and fear.
And yet, for all my parents' efforts, meeting them in the core of their real human stories was exactly where every broken place between us was healed. Not only that, I found in their stories a resilience and endurance in struggle and suffering that are qualities we need to reclaim if we are going to get through the crisis time with our integrity and our future intact, or even possible. Rather then bury their struggles, we need to resurface them to gain some badly needed wisdom and perspective for how to go through hard times - but this time without all the repression and moralistic judgment, without the need for external justification, or proper images made up to protect us from the real stuff of our human condition, or even our basic humanity.
|Dad, Milwaukee's Mr. Music|
Of course, this revelation is not only about the subjects in the narrative; it is more than anything else revelation about the writer. It is the most vulnerable kind of exposure. You have to tell all the story necessary to make your point in telling it at all. And that begins with why you chose to write it to begin with. That is about me, not them. And that point requires the most terrifying honesty of all.
Takes a lot out of me as this story is moving towards its crescendo. Stay tuned. Despite the deep disquiet, I can hardly wait to get this thing out into the world.