I read up to page 175 of This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared today after my Shabbat afternoon nap. The portion that strikes me is about a man who had “made it all” until his children’s drug addiction brought his, his wife’s, and his children’s lives all go to pieces. He spoke of how the man himself yelled at his daughter that he had given her “everything,” only to get the response that he had not given himself. And that answer struck him hard… eventually, they set up a PBS special about the family hoping that by publicizing their pain they could bring healing to others as well. It turned out that even this synopsis belies the pain at the heart of this family: the man had committed numerous adulteries, and there were other problems, too.
For Lew what was most moving was Pat, the wife and mother in the story. It was numerous episodes before she finally broke down and admitted that she was less than the perfect mother. He said there were critics who said that this was something to be ashamed of, but Lew could not feel she had done anything that was worthy of shame. I myself do not know, not having seen the show.
Yet perhaps the pain Pat felt in opening up is something I have felt over the years. I never know “when it is okay to open up” or “how much is appropriate to say.” I have lost friends over this. Yet at my synagogue and at my mental health club I have found healing in this sense: I can be around people who are my friends. And sometimes I can open up. I had troubles regarding things like that in East High School and Friends University.