Wednesday night. Our small Al Anon group met at Burger King again. Because there were so few of us (five people today), we felt free to get some snacks and coffee and sat in a small booth close to each other.
Each person had a chance to read from an Al Anon sponsored book. It talked about people's experiences with members of their family being alcoholics, about the hopelessness and embarrassment that they felt. Then we talked. Most of us didn't have alcoholics in the family, but we all had a parent who was either under the influence of strong medication or a mental illness or just a rage-aholic. Some members of our group shared about the shame they felt for their parent who was incapacitated by those issues with their health and psyche.
I also shared. Nobody in my family drank to excess. We had a nice apartment and jobs and were polite to our neighbors. I often wondered if it was normal for a parent like my mother to erupt suddenly and smack children around at every real or imagined offense. I even now think that maybe I was that stubborn, absentminded or lazy, as mom said, to elicit her ire. She loved us, of that I have no doubt, but she could not control her temper and hardly ever tried! I understand now that she herself had a lot of emotional baggage that prepared her to be so unthinking and cruel. I forgave her before she passed away, but I still carry her anger and judgement around with me.
That was what I shared. I had a lot more to say but I was trying to control my mouth. What asks to be expressed is that, we were a Jewish family in Russia. I don't know, if it's like that in all of Europe, but Russia is very anti-Semitic. I had people shamelessly insult me or all Jews to my face. It's rampant there. So we felt, kind of, separate from the rest of the population. I never once felt embarrassed of being Jewish, but the tension was there. My parents, on the other hand, also believed that they were a different people. Perhaps, because Jews usually married among themselves and kept together with other Jews, they (my parents) always watched, who our friends were. I only had Russian friends. They didn't like to come to my house because they saw my mother watching them like a hawk. She was too protective of me and too patronizing toward them for them to like spending time at our home. At times when I understood it, I was mortally embarrassed by her. Is it an expression, being mortally embarrassed? That's what it felt like, because I knew that it was also racism to treat my friends this way!
In the States I lost a lot of my watchfulness. I am always surprised here if someone is acting anti-Semitic. God bless this country! Despite America's many flaws and problems, she managed to instill in her people more tolerance and respect for each other's backgrounds than I saw anywhere else!