Wendy grew up in a war zone. Each night, behind her bedroom
door barricade, she could hear her daddy launch rockets of rage
at her mom. Fueled by alcohol, his volleys would incinerate the
air like a nuclear blast, leaving behind the wreckage and fallout
of the pain and memories no one could repair.
And when the dust would settle on the debris of broken furniture,
flesh, and feelings, the air would become still, save for the
soft quivering sobs of her brother and sister, too terrified
to stir. Wendy would sit, stunned. Dry eyed and barely breathing,
her pale skin would chill, and her fear would freeze like an
ice sculpture in her heart.
Wendy, a Child of an Alcoholic, felt powerless to prevent
the violence that enveloped her. Terrified, she clung to her
mom, who in her own fear, clutched back even more tightly. Virtually
orphaned by alcohol, Wendy took charge of her family, and bade
her childhood goodbye.
Running past the pain, Wendy managed her household with seemingly
inexhaustible energy. In the same vein, she excelled at school,
organized paper drives, and in her "spare time," adopted
the forgotten in a nursing home. One year, even her school picture
was a blur; no film was fast enough to capture her.
Sometimes, when daddy would resume his fire at the family,
Wendy's spirits would plummet in despair. But then, she would
recalibrate her speed, sweep away the damage, and start another
project. Being frantic freed her from fear; where her family
was concerned, she didn't have time for the pain.
And Wendy learned to be the master fixer. At home, she reigned
supreme over bandages and bruised knees. As she grew older, she
extended her realm to the suffering of everyone she knew. Sometimes,
during difficult stretches, Wendy would be so wound up she couldn't
sleep, and so exhausted she couldn't think. But she would never
think of her own needs; in fact, she wouldn't even give them
the time of day.
But from time to time, Wendy, like the sands of an hour glass,
would sink helplessly to the bottom. Try as she might, she couldn't
emerge from the dark night of her soul that wouldn't relent even
to the brightest candle of consolation from friends. Then, as
suddenly as it had arrived, the despair would depart, and once
again Wendy could resume her run.
Wendy longed to let go, but the over-idling engine inside
her would never let her stop. Even play became work, as she competed
with all the ferocity of a solitary animal seeking safety from
a predator. As a child, she had discovered what it was to survive;
only the winners made it out alive.
And at work, Wendy felt proud of her ability to react to an
emergency; her intensity kept her attuned. Sometimes, she would
quip, "don't tell me to relax - it's my tension that's holding
me together." But her co-workers and friends were deeply
concerned; she was the only one who didn't know it was true.
Each day, Wendy's inner mainspring wound tighter. Then, on
a company trip, she found herself alone in her bed with a terrible
sense of foreboding and dread. Suddenly awake from restless dreams,
Wendy heard herself scream in a long ago voice, "daddy,
daddy, please don't kill mommy! ...daddy, daddy...!"
Drenched and sobbing, she finally felt her inner anguish.
And to her amazement, an unexpected calm descended upon her after
the tears. With the freshness of a breeze after a rainstorm,
she could feel the craziness of her life, and tenderly touch
the depths of her heart.