When my Child Asks About the Family she doesn't know...
I try to my best to be 100% open and honest with this blog. I want anyone who reads my posts to feel like they are getting to know me; my humor, my spirit, my thoughts and feelings. I want people who can relate to see my posts and feel something. Maybe it's laughter. Maybe tears of joy. Maybe a feeling of relief that you're not the only one experiencing certain things.
There is a very large part of myself that I hold back. Not just from this "Honest Mom" persona that I've created for myself, but also in my everyday life. I've become an expert in burying my feelings down deep and throwing up my defenses. I'm a master of covering pain and flashing a smile.
The week I found out that I was pregnant, my parents made the decision that they were going to divorce. In their defense, they didn't know I was pregnant before they announced their split. I'm sure if they knew they might have waited. It was a very emotional time. It was still happy and exciting, but maybe not as happy and exciting as it could've been. I guess we'll never know. Their divorce got very messy, very fast, and as hard as I tried to stay neutral and uninvolved, I was sucked right into the middle. It was like a nuclear bomb came down and blew up my life during what was supposed to be the happiest time of my life. I actually really hate talking about it because I feel like I sound like a selfish jerk, but deep down it's how I feel.
My parents had been together almost 30 years and all the sudden it was just over. My siblings and I tried to stay above the tensions, but before long everyone was taking sides, and while I thought I was doing my best to stay true to both of my parents, unfortunately the rest of my family didn't quite see it that way.
Before I could fully realize it, my siblings grew resentful and my Dad felt betrayed. I could feel the distance and tension between us growing. We denied it for a while, but soon enough we became strangers.
When I think about it in the short term, the day to day, it's not so bad. Maybe they will call me tomorrow. Maybe they'll want to get together for dinner. Maybe I'll be invited to a holiday or a wedding. Maybe things will be fixed. That's a worry and a hurt for another day. A distant future day.
But in the long term. I'm so deeply wounded. I grieve the loss of people who are still alive. I thought I made the right choices. I thought I was doing what was best, but clearly it wasn't. I'm at peace with that only because I have to be.
But now that Olivia is getting older, I'm starting to feel the anxiety of explaining these complicated relationships to her.
What will I say when she sees a picture of an aunt or uncle that she doesn't recognize? What about the Grandpa she doesn't remember? The more I think about it, the more anxious I become. I honestly don't even know if I could explain it to her without crying hysterically. Not because I'm sad about my loss, but because she shouldn't have to experience the loss that I have. I never want her to feel like she wasn't good enough. I never want her to feel like she isn't worthy of the love that she deserves.
So what will I do when I finally need to answer these questions?
I'm not completely sure what I'll say, but I think about it a lot. I'll be honest first and foremost. If I expect her to trust me fully, I can't start off by not being open with her, even about things that might not be easy or pleasant. I won't be close minded. I won't play the victim, or make it sound like I was wronged. We were all wrong, and unfortunately it will be my child that will pay the price for that. I will try to teach her a lesson through it. Explain to her that sometimes things don't work out how you hope they will. Sometimes things aren't meant to be. Sometimes you can think you're doing the right thing, but what is right for one person might not be the right thing for another person. I will let her draw her own conclusions about the people she surrounds herself with.
I guess that is all I can really do, right?