Hearts Home

I was an emotional desert, sandblasted and laid to waste by the years of ignoring what I needed from those around me. I was bright and shiny; I knew my assets and molded them into a near perfect package. The problem was even with all the bells and whistles it wasn’t enough, I still struggled with the horrible need to make my father see ME, I remained the same little girl, who wanted her father to say,

“It is going to be just fine, I will protect you. I won’t let the monsters get you. I am Proud of you.

My father had begun to soften; he found his heart in the most unlikely of places. After years of dating women who though not near as horrifying as my mother often reminded me of her, he finally found one that was the polar opposite. Found her and nearly lost her, but she stomped her foot and laid down the law, “marry me or leave”. After years of friendship and a lifetime of knowing each other, my father found his true soul mate in Texas, in his sister-in-law.

Is that incest?

My brother asked this question. I laughed in part because it was a silly question and in part, because I believe my brother felt truly threatened by the idea of our father’s remarriage. He might lose his best friend to another, to love. Our father and his soon to be wife had known each other since elementary school, she had married his brother at eighteen and raised five children with him in a small West Texas town. My uncle passed in 1977, for years my Dad and my Aunt had been friends. For years, they would visit when he visited his mother. Their friendship was based on shared history, shared values and shared interests over time it evolved into something much different than either expected.

The Best Wedding Day

Theirs was a true love story. They married in 1990 surrounded by their children, grandchildren, friends and other extended family. Honestly, we didn’t know quite what to make of each other or our new relationships at the time. Suddenly cousins were siblings of a sort. Despite being cousins, we didn’t know each other well in the early days; we had to work to find how we fit.

I did not recognize my father after his marriage. He was easier, softer and kinder. My stepmother soon became the center of everything for all of us, drawing us in and together. She also became my heart mother, the holder of secrets and my confessor. She was the one person I had ever seen tell my father he was wrong but say it with such kindness he would smile and ask for a hug! This didn’t happen instantly; that softening of the heart happens as a person recognizes they are loved despite their flaws.  He was loved passionately by his wife; he was loved without conditions or history by his new ‘children’ and grandchildren. He was drawn into the life he had always dreamed of, always wanted. My father was finally the patriarch of family extending generations. My brother slowly grew to accept our new stepmother as a part of life, she was there to stay and she didn’t take away from him. His relationship with our father remained exactly what it had always been, best friends.

A small part of a large family

Two years after my father married, I was carjacked and shot, the first person I saw when I awoke from a coma was my father. When I believed I might not survive I asked for three things:

  1. That I survive long enough to tell my sons I would always watch over them;
  2. That I could tell my father I had become a woman he could be proud of;
  3. A last cigarette (don’t hate).

I did survive but struggled with the relationship with my father even then. His view of me remained a historical view without context. There came a time when I finally had to either be willing to give him some of the context or accept defeat, it was then my stepmother became my confessor. It was over coffee one early morning after a random comment by her about my ‘exotic’ looks as a child the story of my childhood began to unfold.

I swore her to secrecy

Yes, I did this. We struggled with the idea that my secrets were becoming hers and my pain was the wall between my father and I. Finally, over many early morning coffee confessionals, tears and hugs we also agreed that my secrets were killing my soul. My heart mother knew my father would never hear the secrets from me. She knew he couldn’t because I couldn’t tell, but she could and did. No, not all of them because even she didn’t know them all and some she agreed were mine to tell or not. Like me, my father had told her many of his own secrets and she was able to piece together our life apart, our life in his absence. Without blame and without breaking her promises she was able to begin to build bridges between us and heal old wounds.

We found some of our way

With her great love for both of us, we found our way toward each other. It wasn’t always easy; we were a prickly pair, both ready to take umbrage even where no offense was intended. We learned to hug though, not just those

My Heart Not Divided

cursory hugs you give family members because it is expected, but those hugs you give because you want to be right there, right in someone’s arms because you love them and it feels perfectly good and right. We learned to say, “I love you”, mean it and not forget.

I didn’t get over my jealousy of my brother’s relationship with our father; it changed though from jealousy of their closeness to jealousy of the missing time.

In 2001, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I watched closely as his brilliant mind withdrew. My wonderful heart mother was his primary caregiver and with medicine, the march of that horrible disease was slowed to a crawl. In 2008, my heart mother fell and hit her head, she passed away two days later. At her interment, my father held my hand, leaned over and whispered to me;

“I am done”

He stopped taking his medicines, all of them. He stopped taking his medicine for Alzheimer, for his heart, for his blood pressure. His health rapidly declined. My father passed away in November 2009, almost 13 months to the day after the love of his life.

I miss my father and my heart mother. I miss watching their marriage. I miss the relationship I eventually developed with my father as an adult. He is the one person who ultimately saw me, demanded of me my best and

How I always see them
Just Loving Perfectly

thought I was precious.

By the way, yes my father did tell me

‘I am proud of you’

One of the greatest gifts of all.

One way I will always see my Dad

Prodigal Daughter

The first time I returned to my father’s house wasn’t a happy homecoming, not one of joyful reunion; the prodigal daughter returning only slightly battered by her adventures but welcome nonetheless. This is not to say my father wasn’t happy to see me, he simply didn’t know what to make of me; I disrupted the rhythm he and my brother had established and I was not easy. No, I did not fit into the domestic tranquility they had established without my mother.

The Wild Child returns or was it truly the Prodigal Daughter

There was a silence between us an abyss of unspoken anger and hurt. Occasionally that dark silence would erupt, molten heat flow between us rife with all that would remain unsaid. My father was angered by what he saw as my rebellious nature; he was infuriated by what seemed to him my failure to be bowed by my circumstance, my great failure. He truly had no idea just how tipped over I was, how often I could be found curled into myself begging for relief, my pain beating like a tattoo on the walls of my chest so loudly I often couldn’t hear my own heart beating.

I took back my old room, the walls folded in on me and memories battered me. Memories from before my run and memories of my years away. Memories I could not tell that no one, especially my father, wanted to hear. Memories that screamed in my head and battered my heart. My brother was not happy at my arrival; this didn’t make my homecoming easier. My insertion back into my family home was full of angst, fury even. I was seeking safe harbor, my father was looking for the daughter he never had but thought he remembered as if in a dream. We were both so wrong and both furious at the other for our disappointment.

When my brother was 17 and I was 20, I had been home less than a year my father had three heart attacks. He was just 51 years old and had never taken particularly good care of himself. He had been single for five years by this time and had found he enjoyed life without the harridan that was my mother. He had known for quite some time that his heart was bad; he did nothing to correct the problem. This led to a triple bi-pass and a significant change in his life-style. It wasn’t enough. My father was hardheaded; he thought he could outsmart his own body and his family history. He continued to work, play and not take particularly good care of himself for another ten years. His health suffered and this led to another series of heart attacks and another bi-pass surgery.

While my dad was a brilliant man in many ways, he was emotionally stunted. He had a far easier time bailing me out of my ‘difficulties’, the things I did to force his attention than simply listening to why I did them. Don’t

My brother and I in 1981

misunderstand me, there was not a single time after my return to the fold my father wasn’t there for me, not once my dad didn’t open his wallet if I needed help. I paid for those failures though, paid in rancor and ferocity. Paid also in knowing I couldn’t be enough, couldn’t ever be ‘good enough’. These feelings would engender in me such jealousy of the relationship he had with my brother, the easy camaraderie and friendship it would taint my relationship with both my brother and my father for many years to come making it difficult for us to come together and finally find peace.

Ultimately it wasn’t he and I that found the necessary building blocks to make peace, perhaps alone we would have never found our way back to each other. After my father’s second round with heart surgery he finally determined he would live. He retired from the work he loved after 30 years. He took up new hobbies and new interests, including unbeknownst even to him a love interest. I think by then he had already begun to find his heart back home in Texas, though it would be a while longer before he or any of the rest of us realized just how much of his heart he had truly found.

By the time my father had his second open heart surgery I had been through the stage of trying to distract his attention through my wild child antics. It did of course work, but not in a way that made sense. I did far more harm to myself with nothing really gained but his anger and disdain. Ultimately I married once in haste and with deep regret two years later divorced. I had finally married the man I would remain married to for fourteen years, the father of my two sons and the ex-husband of my favorite wife-in-law.

My brother in the meantime joined the Army making my father ‘proud’, words I heard with regularity but not directed at me.

One my dad disapproved, the Wild Child in Action

I sought my father, his attention but mostly his approval, constantly, but could not tell him what was wrong. Maybe if he had asked, maybe if I thought he could sit to hear the truth I would have told. But I could never tell him, he asked me once why I did the things I did;

Because I hate myself

He shook his head and walked away. He never asked why. Maybe if he had I could have told him.

For a little while I stopped outwardly trying to gain his approval, but inside I was always the little girl that wanted to be Daddy’s girl. I wanted him to love me and to like me. The problem was I simply didn’t like me enough to tell him what had been done, I wanted him to be angry but I wouldn’t tell him so he could comfort me. I wanted him to guess rather than know. I was so ashamed I couldn’t tell and so I was angry that he didn’t protect me and instead bought my silence. That was always what it felt like; he bailed me out because that was all he had for me.

When I was still Daddy’s Little Girl

My father missed my graduation, it crushed me but I never told him.

My father missed my son’s wedding, this also hurt my feelings but I told him this one by then our relationship had changed.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I have tried to write the story of my father and I as a trilogy and found it to be far too complex, perhaps because it has an ending that includes a reconciliation

Part I – In Your Absence

Part II – Growing up Texas

Family Threads

We just worshipped him, treated him like he was a little god.

I know there were days I wanted to beat the hell out of you for it.

Wondering whom this conversation was between and whom it was about? Well, last night I hosted a family dinner and that was just one of the short reminiscing I and my Wife-in-Law’ (WIF) had about our youngest son. Putting that conversation in context, I was the second voice the one that wanted to beat the hell of her, after I said it we both cackled while the son in question looked on bemused.

This is our blended family:

Family Threads Extended

I have known my WIF and her current husband for 28 years; I married her ex, when our shared sons were four and seven respectively. With only a few exceptions (barring blood relations), these are the longest standing relationships I have. I was legally married to our ex, the father of our shared sons for 14 years, from 1984 to 1998, I did not live with him that entire time and did not have what anyone would consider a traditional marriage, the one constant though, I adored my two stepsons, they owned me heart and soul. Every single time I considered leaving my marriage permanently, they were what kept me, they were what held me I could not bear to lose that connection.

In the early years of my marriage, it is safe to say my WIF and I were not the best of friends. I suspect we saw each other over the gulf that so often exists at the end of marriages. I know my ex remained enraged for years over what he believed was unfair treatment, as his wife I took his side. Overtime, the scales dropped from my eyes and it was easier to see that both sides had a story to tell. I don’t know when my WIF and I started to drop our animosity and find common ground; it was before her ex became my ex though.

I asked my WIF if I could write about her in my blog, as we were chatting she casually said, ‘you could call me the Baby Mama’.

My eldest, who is quite grown up at thirty-five, with a horrified look on his face replied for me, ‘you will not do that!’

These are my sons, who I adore.

They still have to do what I say

For 28 years they have held my heart, filled a hole I thought would remain empty forever. The first weekend they visited after I married their father, they confronted me with this epiphany;

We don’t have to do what you say, you aren’t our mother!

Spoken with true attitude and conviction by two children I was convinced were demon seed at that point in the weekend. My WIF had informed me she didn’t believe in spanking, it was obvious. To say we had different views on childrearing would have been an understatement!

There have over these many years been ups and downs, tears and laughter. There was a time when I thought I lost them and my heart would remain broken forever. We healed and here we are a family. The minister at our eldest son’s wedding several years ago tried to figure out who we are, specifically who we are to each other. When he had been introduced to us separately, it was as ‘My Mom’. Her husband was introduced by name, so clearly not ‘Dad’, my husband for obvious reasons, also not ‘Dad’. Finally the minister couldn’t stand it his curiosity got the best of him; he found us sitting together chatting and simply asked. Bless her, she said;

We’re the mom’s, we both divorced their Dad.

Family is a funny thing, how we ultimately form the bonds of love and hang on tight, sometimes without even realizing those bonds are wrapping themselves around us. We have added new marriages, grandchildren, new partners and perhaps soon new grandchildren. We are fortunate I think.

Baby Mama….Wife-in-Law

One is the name she gave herself last night to tweak our son. The other is the name we gave to each other because we couldn’t find another that described our family relationship properly and the bond we shared.

This is my Wife-in-Law and I, who I will always be grateful to for sharing her brilliant children with me and curing the hole in my heart.

The Two Moms

It might be Love

I have been with the same man since 1997. In fact, we are coming up to the anniversary of our first meeting in a couple of months. Our relationship has seen days of great excitement and joy; we have also faced days that have tested our resolve to remain together. When we met, I suspect the last thing on either of our minds was a relationship, certainly not with each other, two people could not have been more different and neither of us were looking for anything permanent at the time.

Some of our differences are obvious to the naked eye –

  • We are a mixed race couple
    • What might not be obvious is he is from the Bahamas
  • We have an age gap, I am older
    • What might not be obvious is I am 19 years older

Most people bet against us, some still do. I think if you had asked me back when we married in 1999, I would have also. Some of the less obvious differences we have, those things that you read about in magazines and other tomes of wisdom —

  • Education
    • I now have a Masters, he stood by me while I studied nights and weekends ripping my hair out and weeping it was too hard.
  • Religion
    • He was raised in a very religious home, brought up in church with a strong faith. I am at best an educated pragmatist.
  • Finances and Career
    • I had an established career at the time we married. It has seen some ups and downs over the years though and he has toughed it out with me.

We met when I was on vacation with a girlfriend. When we met, we had much to overcome, including my ongoing very nasty divorce, maintaining a long-distance relationship and of course the judgment of other people. People who look at us and think there are ulterior motives for our pairing, simply don’t realize the hurdles or the difficulties of our early days.

Two of those motives attributed to my husband by others were:

  • Obtaining a Green Card / Citizenship
  • Money / Wealth (mine)

 

 

 

The primary ulterior motive attributed to me was what is always on everybody’s mind when an older woman and a younger man pair…….

Socially we faced some uphill battles, I am certain many can guess the types and but not  the magnitude of the mêlées, especially once we married. For most of our marriage, we have lived in Texas, though we did make a foray into Virginia for two years. Suffice to say society hasn’t always been welcoming; people have been quick to pass judgment. There are those who remain stuck in their archaic views regarding miscegenation, though I am of the opinion that we are of the same race since last I checked we are both human. There have been times bigotry has been openly on display, mostly in the small town where my parents retired to and we often visited. There are other times where small minded people have wrapped their prejudice in the blanket of their professed Christianity, trying to justify their bigotry with the Bible, I have been appalled and amused at the same time.  I have received hate-mail, seen blog posts on the subject and even had comments directed at me over the years on several different social media sites. I try hard to be open minded about the ignorance on display, after all some people are not able to overcome their own witless and pedantic views.

There are some, even in my own family that are locked into the idea that he could not possibly want me for anything other than my riches and have gone so far as to insult him directly. If they only knew the battles we fought early in our marriage to keep our head above water, paying debt from my divorce and struggling through a year of my unemployment. Though we don’t talk about our arrangements, we keep our money separate; what is his is his and what is mine is mine. Of course I earn more because I have been in the workforce longer and he benefits from that, which is far different from the ‘Sugar Mama’ everyone seems to believe I am.

We will celebrate our thirteenth wedding anniversary this year. Has it been all hearts and flowers? Absolutely not! In fact, our cultural differences sometimes create gorges we have difficulty navigating.  He comes from culture that tends to be more male dominated, more machismo; we butt heads frequently. We are not what we expected we would marry, not what we pictured we would have as a mate yet here we are. There are times we still struggle to find our footing with each other and within our marriage, yet here we are and I find I still like him a great deal most days. When people ask what drew me to him the only answer I can give besides his great smile is this; my husband is by far the most ethical man I know. Despite we are polar opposites on many levels we balance each other.

This past week my husband became a citizen of the United States of America. I wasn’t there, it wasn’t by design I wasn’t there and it wasn’t the first time I missed something important. We didn’t know he would go straight from the interview to his swearing in, I would have been there had we known. Still I wasn’t there; this is a common theme in our marriage. My work causes me to miss many important dates; birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day all of them have been missed more than once. He remembers each one I miss and reminds me. But more importantly my husband is now a Citizen after all these years, I wonder what the naysayers to our marriage will say now, I can hear them whispering in the corridors already.

Whispers……

He doesn’t need her any more, will he stay?

Mirror Images, Meet the Parents

 

My “Real” Mom, 1979

You have my face”. These were the first words I blurted out to my biological mother the day we met. It was shocking to finally meet her and thus meet someone who looked like me.It wasn’t I looked a little like her. I stared in stunned silence at my mirror image. Were it not for the fact I colored my hair and didn’t worship the sun, we would have passed for sisters.My mother and I are the same generation being only 16 years apart in age.

Meet the Parent!

You might have guessed I am adopted (Family Ties, Part II/), and I met my biological mother. What may come as a surprise is what else I found; my mother and father married after my birth and had five more children before divorcing. She dropped that bombshell at our first meeting. I felt like my head was going to explode or my heart would stop. I wasn’t  sure what to do with the information; it certainly wasn’t what I expected to hear. The only emotion I had for weeks, even months was, how surreal.

For months our relationship was comparable to the beginning of a new romance. Wanting to know about the other one, who they are and what they like. It was strange and oft times rocky, as romances are want to be. Neither of us was mature enough to understand our motives or emotions so our relationship floundered horribly. Both of us ended up wounded and disappointed in the other; unable to find the balance needed to sustain a healthy relationship we wounded each other and eventually drifted apart.

Our failures, looking back were mutual though unspoken. For my mother her need to re-parent me was dominant. I was in my early twenties, grown and angry parenting was the last thing I wanted from anyone. I had parents, they had failed me miserably, why would I want another parent, especially someone I didn’t know and who had fundamentally failed me once already. I was if nothing else terribly judgmental.

My mother carried a great deal of guilt for giving me up and she wanted forgiveness. Intellectually I understood the circumstances. I spoke the words more than once; even tried to make her understand I did not blame her. Nevertheless, looking back there was a thread of anger through our relationship  partly driven by her guilt and partly driven by my terrible hurt, they married and had more children!

Nature – v – Nurture

When I consider this question in light of my tangled roots I think we are an amalgamation

wikipedia image

of many things combined to create the whole person. My mother was told by a Channeler when she found me she would meet the daughter most like her. Boy was he wrong! I was most like her only in appearance, in all other aspects I was very dissimilar. I suspect this was a horrible disappointment. In one of our more acrimonious discussions I told her she had given up the right to parent me, I had parents and their values, mores and ethics had formed me Thank God. Yes, I said that, it was cruel and looking back it was also unnecessary.

Truthfully? I always saw bits of my mother in me, more than the mirror image. There were times when my mother would say or do something and I would think, that is where that comes from that is why I do that. Those times would stun me into silence.

There were days I wanted desperately to be like my mother so she would love me, so she would like me so she would embrace me and even nurture me. I found in the end I was to stubbornly formed already by what had gone before and could not shift my core to become who she needed. In seeking her I sought the mother I had not had, I know this now. In unconsciously rejecting her conditions I began to embrace who I would become but lost the opportunity to know her and for her to know me.

I haven’t seen or spoken to my biological mother in over ten years. I wouldn’t even know where to begin healing the rift.

My friend and fellow blogger recently wrote Nurture Strength which provides great insight into the Nature -v – Nurture argument. I hope you will read it.

More to come on the oddities of Nature –v- Nurture, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters oh my !

In-Laws, Outlaws and the Inbetween

For Better or Worse, that isn’t a question but rather part of the vows most of us blithely repeat during our wedding ceremonies. As the minister pronounces us married and we kiss our newly minted spouse, dreams of our future waltz across the polished dance floor. We turn from the minister to our newly minted family; all dressed in their Sunday-go-to-meeting best never realizing monsters lurk beneath the smiling faces sitting in the pews.

Don’t get me wrong, some of these lovely people don’t intend to ruin your life. Truthfully, some are well-meaning monsters who simply have no brought-upsie that is they were not beaten within an inch of their lives when they were children. Others, well they are simply Azzhats and your happiness annoys them. Then there are those who believe they are helping you and don’t comprehend how their help could possibly be seen as interference. These lovelies are not just on your spouse’s side of the family, oh no indeed they are all running rampant throughout and you both need to know how to spot them and take them down.

The Out-Laws

The Oblivious Out-Law – these poor dears are unaware of their jaunts into the land of offensive.  Saying and doing things that would cause most of us hesitation. The Out-Law of Rude generally fails to maintain connections between their brains and their mouths, it isn’t their fault though (I try to give the benefit of the doubt). Example from my own family annuals:

“I read recently that the only reason a younger man would date or marry an older woman is to use her for her money. No younger man would ever find an older woman sexually attractive.” Said by my sister during a family get together; uhmm, Sister Dear, husband and I have a nineteen year age gap and have been married a decade. Shocked silence all around as my sister smiles while attempting to remove foot from mouth, oh will it doesn’t apply to you; ya’ll are obviously different right?’

The Judgment Out-Law – this is one that believes no matter what one of you will never be good enough for the other. Usually one of the mothers, Heaven help you if it is both. This Out-Law will never release their hold and will spend a significant amount of energy pointing out the faults of the partner. If the Judgment Out-Law is also the family Matriarch you are in trouble before you get started, nipping the problem early is the only way to win this war or you will find the entire family against you before you have a chance to settle in. The only way to win this is your partner must be willing to stand up to his/her meddlesome parent, reminding them you are now the spouse and first.

The Helpful Out-Law – this one is always there willing to assist with anything and everything, for a price. Clean your house, mow your lawn, do your shopping, watch your dog anything you might need this Out Law is the one to call, actually they might be calling you. Problem is with this one they are also usually there watching your TV, eating your food and otherwise disrupting your privacy. They have no sense of boundaries, hell for the most part they have no sense. The Helpful Out-Law will sleep on your couch if you let them, borrow money and your car (to do your shopping) and when things go South they will tell the entire family all your secrets including those you don’t have. The only way to prevent this outlaw from taking over your life is not to let them in. Decline their assistance unless you have no choice, say you are in full traction for example. Only invite them over during family get-togethers’ when there is a buffer between you and them.

Those are just three of the Out-Laws you will without doubt find in your new family tree. The funny thing is, some of them will be hanging from the branches of your tree and you simply didn’t know they were there until the fateful day you married. Marriage changes everything!

More on In-Laws and Out-Laws from my own hysterical family later. Stay tuned.

Next Chapter: Compromise Isn’t Everything or What’s Love Have to Do with It?

Family Ties Part II

Adoption – Families Created

I am adopted. Growing up my parents tried hard to create the ideal family. The

Captured Family 1964

undercurrent of loathing that permeated our home couldn’t be missed except by the most oblivious observer. Observers like those that placed two infants into this highly dysfunctional home.

My father, my Daddy, my Hero, my true heart. He passed November 2009 I miss him every day. He was not without faults and we did not always have a close relationship, in fact it wasn’t until I was an adult I appreciated who he was as a person, by then he had mellowed significantly from the man who raised me.

My mother, my nemesis yet still the woman who significantly influenced me, is still alive and kicking at 91 years. I will never understand her though I have insight into some of what made her tick.

I have one younger brother also adopted, through our lifetime we have had our battles and even  periods where we barely communicated yet he remains my adored baby brother.

My parents divorced nearly 40 years ago, despite they both wanted it, I heard it was extremely acrimonious . They had stayed together far too long “for the sake of the children”. At the time my brother was still living at home, I was a runaway, they had no idea if they would ever see me again.

Imagination

Growing up I dreamed my ‘real’ parents would rescue me. Some days they were gypsies and would whisk me off in their wagons for adventures. Other days my father would arrive

Image ApartmentTherapy

in his limousine and explain it was all a terrible mistake that he had been searching for me ever since the Wicked Witch had stolen me from the hospital. I had a vivid imagination as a child.

My mother had a rich imagination as well, hers was crueler and entailed taunts, ‘You are just like your mother’. This was a favorite and I often wondered what she knew that she wasn’t telling me. Some days I would probe for answers, I wanted to know where I came from. It became a game with me begging for answers and her taunting she knew more than she did, more than she was telling.

Different Realities

My brother and I have very different versions of our childhood. There are days I wonder if we grew up with the same parents in the same household. I grew up hurt, angry and always the outsider. He grew up knowing he was adored, by all of us and always the insider. The only person that he was ever really angry at was me, I often wondered if he was angry that I left or angry that I returned; I don’t think he really knows the answer.

Forgive and forget, he believes it is my duty that she is my mother. He even says she told him she was sorry she hurt me. My only response to this is one of stunned silence, really? In all the years of our stand-off, all the years where I have stood silently waiting for her to acknowledge the harm she did in her wrath and jealous rages not once has she said “I am sorry” so why now should I allow that it is fine because she told her beloved son what I waited thirty-five years to hear.

Consequences, there always are some for any act. I know her history and I am sorry for the hurt she suffered at the hands of her own parents and even at the hands of my father. She brought her broken heart and psychosis to a marriage and then to child rearing, it was an unfortunate combination she and I.

Family Ties II

Families can be created through the great gift of adoption. My experience as an adopted child is not the norm. My mother and I were a toxic combination that no one could have

Image Selfknowledgecorner

predicted though looking more closely at my parents’ marriage might have prevented their being candidates for adoption at all. Hindsight is 20/20 and I don’t know the state of their marriage at the time of my or my brothers’ adoption, only after the fact and only the history from speaking to those who knew them then.

I am not sorry I was adopted, not even sorry that I was adopted by this couple. Might my life have been different under different circumstances with different parents? Certainly, but I would be who I am and I would have the family I have, good – bad – indifferent they are nonetheless my family.

Family Ties, Part III – Nature versus Nurture

Family Ties

Family ties what are they and how do they affect our lives for good or ill. There are any

The Nelsons_MuseumTV

number of books we can read, television shows we can watch, even movies we can see depicting both the ideal and the dysfunctional. In the 50’s there were the Cleavers of Leave it to Beaver, the Nelsons of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and the Andersons of Father Knows Best. Although in the 60’s and even in the 70’s there continued to be idealized versions of families portrayed on television and even in movies these classics taught a generation what families were supposed to be.

The Juggling Act – Our New Reality

Jump to reality and it doesn’t seem these portrayals are achievable in today’s highly volatile society; truthfully, perhaps not even desirable. In an age where we regularly relocate families across country and even across the globe we lose touch easily with our

Juggling_Wookey.Co.UK

extended families for weeks, months, even years at a time. With the advent of women in the workplace, two income families just to pay the bills, reproductive choices and women waiting longer for both marriage and children there are changes to how we view family and our ties to them. Add the other side of the coin, the number of single parent households most of them led by women, and finally the number of grandparents raising children today. What we have today is anything but the stylized ideal of the past.

What does this mean in relation to family and how we define them today?  

My family is an amalgamation of biological members, adopted members, married in members, and step-members. I have different relationships with each and with some, I have made a conscious decision to limit my relationship. Others have made similar decisions to limit their relations and contact with me. So again, I have to ask how meaningful are family ties versus other relationships.

My answer is that they are what we choose them to be.

Throughout the years, we form relationships, friendships and lovers come and go. Some stay longer than others and become part of our extended families through marriage or otherwise. In the world today, we no longer stay in one place our entire life, we move for

Blending Together (Google Image)

work, to marry, to attend school. We are besieged with the countless objects we must juggle day-to-day simply to so our lives run smoothly. Unlike past times, we frequently do not have extended family to support and assist us in emergencies; instead relying upon friends or even paid for services.

Family ties, what are they really? Do we create families as we progress through our lives, piecing them together with friends and relations? I have other relationships that I would more easily call family than those related to me by blood, marriage or family history. I don’t believe that we owe love, allegiance, or even respect to those who don’t treat us well simply because they are family. Ultimately, we create our family made of people who we care for and who care for us. Those ties of love, care, sacrifice, and yes-shared laughter are what keep us bound together, these are the true family ties.

More to come.

%d bloggers like this: