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Taboos and Elephants

Posted by Kayla Parker // December 1st 2011 // On Campus, Stories and Voices, young adults // one comment

We are not alone.

The holiday season can be a trying time for many of us. As a young adult, it can be painful being away from or being with families of origin this time of the year. Some of our families are no longer a cohesive unit, some never were. Some can be communities of joy, others of pain, and still others a bit of both. It is particularly difficult for me and many I know to return from our increasingly established adult lives to our families of origin during this season.

Some of us were raised in environments that we now recognize as unhealthy, but were the “norms” we might have accepted as children and youth. We have been working hard to reject and create new norms, and returning to the old ways can drain us of hope and energy.

I pray that we have the strength to stay true to our selves, accept what cannot be changed, and take a step towards changing what is not acceptable.

Hanging especially heavy on my heart this holiday season are the tabooed statuses of ailments that affect many of us: substance/alcohol addiction, mental illness, and HIV/AIDS. So often we do not talk about these illnesses with loved ones in our families of origin or choice. They become elephants that we try to shove under rugs.

I pray that this holiday season, we have the strength to forge connection and begin or continue these conversations of recognition.

Many of us are dealing with these life-threatening illnesses ourselves or through the lives of loved ones, and all of us are living different experiences. May we each have the strength to take our next step towards wholeness.

I am taking a small step. This holiday season, I accepted that these ailments currently are, and always will be present in my life. The lives of my friends are being transformed by issues no one talks about, and I am largely uninformed about. My next step is ordering books on alcohol addiction and HIV so I can be a more capable and confident support person for my loved ones.


This is my next, small step. I invite you to take yours in solidarity with me.




Addictions Resource:

UU Addictions Ministry, http://www.uuaddictionsministry.org/index.php

(Resources outside of UU circles can be found under tab “In the Wider World”)


HIV/AIDS Resource:

The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource, http://www.thebody.com


Mental Health Resources:

Unitarian Universalist Mental Health Ministry, http://www.mpuuc.org/mentalhealth/mentalintro.html



Equual Access: Mental Health Caucus, http://www.equualaccess.org/mentalhealthcaucus.html

About the Author

Kayla Parker is editor of Becoming: A Spiritual Guide for Navigating Adulthood. She is currently a seminarian at Yale Divinity School, and Ministerial Intern at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden, CT.
One Response to “Taboos and Elephants”
  1. Meck Groot says:

    Thank you, Kayla. Many blessings to you as you lean into the hard conversations and navigate between what you can and cannot change. May the next few weeks be serene!

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