Financially speaking, I have never “gone without.” My basic survival needs have always been met, anyway. There has always been food on the table, a roof over my head, and shoes on my feet. There are assuredly instances in which my family in some form or another struggled to make ends meet, but if it were so it was never apparent to us as children. I am not much aware what the family budget looked like at the time of my father’s passing, but even after the fact, not much had changed.
My father was a vastly intellectual man. One of my deepest regrets is that I was never afforded the opportunity to philosophize with him, to pick his brain for insight into the mysteries of the world I was growing up in. I suppose “regret” isn’t the proper term to describe the feeling; the situation was completely out of my control. Acknowledging that fact has been a healthy part of the grieving process I am working through in my counseling & therapy.
In any case, I always held in awe the fact that he grew up amongst seven other siblings in a small-town farmhouse. The majority of his brothers went on to become farmers themselves. His interests aligned more with a professional career in the private sector, so he pursued higher education at medical school. I spent the earliest parts of my youth in Japan, where he was stationed as a doctor after he enlisted in the Navy.
I was well adjusted not only financially, but emotionally/developmentally as well. Between the unpredictable hours one is expected to juggle as a licensed, on-call physician, Dr. Zombek always made time for his three children. If my parenting abilities amount to even half of that of my own, I will manage just fine. I am extremely grateful to have come from where I did.
I became acutely aware of this gratitude while listening to a man speak at a meeting last week. The topic up for discussion was the portion of The Twelve Steps where amends (direct if possible) are made to those we have harmed. The man was explaining that the Steps that precede it are critical to its success: you must first ask forgiveness & form wholeness within yourself, before you begin to work it through with others.
This particular individual had not been so fortunate in his upbringing. He told the story of how his own father had grown up as one of 13 siblings, in the midst of the Great Depression. His father never so much as heard the words “I love you” in his household. It comes as no surprise that he harbored the resentment, and in turn took it out on his own son. Tracing that family line backwards, it is easy to see how drugs and alcohol became a part of this man’s life.
This shook my reality a bit. Here this man and I sat, mere feet across the room from one another, united in our battle against alcoholism. But from more different homes we could not have come. I suddenly felt a pang of guilt; all too often, I have taken my life of relative comfort for granted. I silently acknowledged how grateful I was, for not having been raised by the code of the streets.
I have the resources, the knowledge, and the life experience to coherently pen these realizations & gratitude’s. Even if my words only ever help one other living soul, in the most miniscule way, then my cumulative efforts are all worth it. Since I’ve started this project, I think I have developed something of a social responsibility to continue it, for as long as it remains relevant.
And today, I’m grateful I have the ability to do so.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –