So, Captain Morgan drew my attention to a profile of our local guy, Chuck Hagel, in Esquire magazine. I’m not going to talk about Hagel’s politics here, but something about that interview struck home with me:
. . . like the moan of a train whistle, soft and distant at first, but with increasing power behind it, the way the trains come through all the small places where Chuck Hagel grew up in Nebraska. All the little towns, where everyone knew if your father was drunk and smashed up the car or lost his job, where every family kept secrets that every other family knew anyway but were too polite or kind to mention. Rushville and York and Ainsworth.
Oh, I know that scenario very well. I was raised in a town of 860, where everybody knew my dad was a raving alcoholic, but not one person ever mentioned it to me in all the years.
I wish they had. I never thought people were being “kind” or “polite” with their silence. I just remember thinking they didn’t care enough about me to validate my feelings or even listen to them. It was like carrying around a deep, dark burden — a secret that was too terrible to bring into the light of day. It was unmentionable, unspeakable — yet everybody knew it.
The “secret” always made me feel ashamed. Some well-meaning adult should have told me it wasn’t my fault, that I couldn’t stop my dad from drinking, and that it didn’t reflect on me as a person. Kids are very ego-centric and sometimes assume they themselves cause all the family problems.
I don’t mean to whine though. Things are different today. I’ve often thought that the internet can help kids now. They can google “alcoholism” or talk about their situation in chat rooms with anonymous friends — and get a better perspective on their “secrets.”
Blogging also helps. I can casually blog about the “secret” now, and the world won’t come to an end. What a relief!
Just more benefits of our beloved World Wide Web!