The nature of our basic family dysfunction is that we want to present to the world as a kindly, engaged, smart clan that’s doing just fine…

The nature of our basic family dysfunction is that we want to present to the world as a kindly, engaged, smart clan that’s doing just fine…

We witness and try to alleviate others’ suffering, but sometimes it just outdoes itself and we are left gasping, groaning. And running through it all there is the jangle, both the machines outside and the chattering treeful of monkeys inside us.

We believe that we are all in this together; this was the message of childhood, that being together meant connection, like an electrical circuit — think school recess on the blacktop, summer camp, and all those family holiday gatherings. Ram Dass said that if you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family. With our nearest and dearest gathered together, we sometimes intuit that they are neither nearest nor dearest.

The nature of our basic family dysfunction is that we want to present to the world as a kindly, engaged, smart clan that’s doing just fine. (In recovery, we call fine “Fucked-up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional.”) But underneath, we have resentment, fear for our children, and an addictive desperation to check our texts. There may also be an irregular mole on your thigh that pulses with death, and unexplained bruising.

There’s just no way around this. Even when life sorts itself out and starts to work and we revel in what is working, the cosmic banana peel awaits. Without this reality, there would be no great art or comedy.

So we savor what works when things are sort of harmonious.

Anne Lamott, from “Almost Everything – Notes on Hope” P. 60
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