I had been living in my car for a year and a half in the Florida Keys and had become a fat, fat man full of anxiety and repressed rage. There was a month or so there when it looked like I might get myself together enough to find an apartment again. I started a second part time job delivering papers.
During that time I started attending an Al-Anon meeting which is part of Alcoholics Anonymous; a group for family members who grew up in alcoholic homes.
The group turned out to be about seven or eight women, mostly older than my 35 years, and myself.
Alcohol and divorce usually go hand in hand, at least that was the case in my family. When divorce happens kids generally take on roles they are not ready for and probably should not have to do in the first place. My role became emotional care taker for my mother, probably something I was doing a little even before the divorce.
Looking back it was pure survival on my part. The divorce wounds left my mom a mess and if I didn’t make her smile or at least less sad, she would not have been able to take care of my brother and I. What I am finally starting to understand is that I buried my own dreams and ideas to try and take care of the family.
I tell you what, I became very good at reading women’s moods and finding the right things to say and the right way to say it. If I by chance ran into a happy, well adjusted woman, it was awkward, I had no idea what to say to her.
At any rate I coughed one time at an Al-Anon meeting and I tell you what I was surrounded by cough drops, tissues, and glasses of water before I could even offer a protest. You see those women were a lot like me; they had given up their dreams and ideas to care take of aggressive alcoholic men, who might explode for no apparent reason.
In hind sight I imagine those men gave up their dreams and ideas to go to work and try and support a family like society tells them they should. I have learned never to judge another, even folks that get violent, you never know what compels people. Kindness and forgiveness often help others change and see themselves differently.
Now I am discovering I actually have a broad range of interests from architecture to painting, botany to religious study, and am starting to pursue them. But all those pursuits are secondary to me finding my kindness.
When I woke up to the fact that my family didn’t take much, if any, interest in me finding my dreams, I was pissed as hell and came out of my care taking role to be the defiant one for a few years. I also had some time with grief over never being understood or heard. Used to make me feel sorry for myself; what a waste of time that was. I imagine the same thing has happened to three quarters of the population.
Another word for kindness is compassion, and as I spend time seeing that my parents have their own wounds and reasons for doing what they did, I began to soften towards them. Now I understand I can simply just listen to them without thinking I am the one who has to do something to make everything okay.
I want you to understand that last point. You are not in charge of anybody else’s happiness but your own, is the Hobo Metaphysic I wrote about that issue. You will find that if you sacrifice your happiness in order to please another and get them to love you, you with leave both parties frustrated and lonely. But if you yourself are happy, well it just naturally spreads like honey.
Now I do not care what age you are or what you have been through; it is never to late to dream a little, why not pursue something that interests you and makes you happy. Plant a garden, sail the seas, write a romance novel. It will do Jesus some good to see you enjoying yourself.
Hobo John here. I love you with everything that I have. That is my mantra, my motto and the truth of things.
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