I have a friend who has shared with me a little about what it was like growing up with alcoholic parents. After hearing some of her stories, I am so grateful that my children will grow up with a recovering alcoholic and not one still actively drinking. She is one of the smartest and most generous people I know, which is all the more impressive knowing the circumstances under which she was raised.

Unfortunately, she’s packing up to move a few hours away. Although I’m sure we will keep in touch, I will miss our tea time together, often several times during the week. I’ll also miss her as a confidant, loyal advisor and wonderful friend. The friend who introduced us also moved away, and she is sorely missed.

Back to the alcoholic upbringing. The few stories she has relayed to me are horrific. She was pushed down the stairs and left temporarily blinded by her mother when she was in an alcoholic rage. Often times when her mother started drinking and Mrs. Hyde’s appearance was imminent, my friend would hide inside a small, round table in their house. Her mother would never find her in there and would become even more infuriated.

As my friend is packing up her belongings, she is getting rid of a huge amount of “stuff” since they are downsizing considerably. The time has come to decide what happens to the round table. The Fortress of Solitude. The Safe Haven. To those who might look at it in an estate sale, it would just be a normal table, suitable for putting drinks or little knick-knacks on. To her, it carries a Pandora’s box of memories.

Alcoholics are cautioned to avoid people, places and things which may be triggers for their drinking. But what about things that just trigger difficult memories for someone who isn’t an alcoholic? Do you hang on to those things because they hold so much meaning or let them go to try to alleviate the pain that they can bring? Packing up the “stuff” that you have accumulated over the years can bring a barrage of memories. Perhaps that’s why I have so many boxes of crap up in my attic. Too much to go through. Or perhaps too difficult to go through because of some of the memories associated with the “stuff.”

A move is an emotional upheaval. The prospect of a new start is exciting but the sadness over what you leave behind can be tough. I haven’t moved much in my life – I’ve been in the same area for over 25 years. While a move would be good in that it would force me to go through all the stuff in the attic, I think I have had enough change in my life the past four years while getting sober.

Everyone has stuff and baggage from the past. How they sort through it and deal with it is a very personal. Lately, I’ve been sorting through mostly intangible items from my past– my character defects that led me to drinking and the repercussions of my actions. Slowly but surely, I’m working through them and trying to become a better person for doing so.

As for the Fortress of Solitude, my friend has decided to let it go. Hopefully she will let go of some of the pain along with it. We may have scrapbooks of memories in our attics or simply in our minds – maybe in the corners of our minds, as the song goes. They are no less real than the table. My friend can put a pricetag on the table and sell it. The memories that go along with it have no monetary value, but the feeling of letting them go: priceless.

There comes a time in your life when you have to choose to turn the page, write another book or simply close it.” – Shannon L. Alder