Kathy shares a moving story at an Al-Anon meeting. She talks about how certain situations in her family system, were framed in certain ways (mostly with humor), and that is how they were able to cope. This is a really great share!
Using humor to describe difficult circumstances
My grandfather was from the old country. He was a drinker and he carried a bottle in his back pocket. One day, when he was coming up our steps, he slipped on the ice and fell backwards. When he hit the ground, he felt this liquid in the back of his pants and he was touching all around thinking his bottle broke. He looked back and said “Oh, thank God, it’s just blood!” I mean it’s all back story in my family, funny things like that. Mrs. Pendergast came over with my grandmother on the very same boat and she was always distressed about her husband who would hit the bars after work and would come home late. So one day she decided to find his pint. Just before he arrived home late at night she dumped most of it down the sink and then she sprinkled the rest of it all over herself. When he walked in that night, there she was just lying there with this empty bottle in one hand she was just reeking of alcohol. Mr. Prendergast saw what it was like and never drank again from that day forward.
I remember those stories, and I would always think to myself when alcohol became an issue in my life, if I could only come up with a scenario, if only I could come up with the right words with the right thing to do, I too, will be able to cure this thing. All those stories were pretty funny to me, except when the stories I heard about my own grandfather weren’t very funny like the one with the broken bottle. My mother wouldn’t talk about it very often, but I remember once I was in Al-Anon saying to her, “Mom do you think your father was an alcoholic?” She looked at me and she said, “Of course he wasn’t an alcoholic. We didn’t have enough money for him to be an alcoholic. He was just Irish.” That’s the way they looked at that from their perspective. They also taught me the importance of always doing for others, of being a service to those around me, and being self-sacrificing.
That’s what I heard, the perspective from this family system, the importance of the value of suffering. The key about the “good kind” of suffering was it had to be silent suffering because if you expressed any emotion or feelings about it, then it did not count. The other important thing in my family was the humor. I mean, we were raised to look at things with it with a great deal of humor. I know, I tell the story very often, but really it was true in my family. Everything that happened was met with humor. I mean that’s how my parents taught us to deal with life. They also taught us that life was difficult and that an earnest life was hard. Life is hard, but for them, from my perspective it always seemed like it was going along quite well. Even when my father’s only brother died at age forty eight, they said he went out “like a true Irishman.” He never married; he lived with his mother, and died of a sudden heart attack. Humor and changing perspectives on situations were a very normal part of my life, and it has taught me a great deal. Thankfully in Al-Anon, I have a new perceptive and I am able to see the truth in situations.