I realized something the other day. Something rather startling… at least for me…
Let me back up. I was commenting on my friend Cassie’s Blog post about the 5 things her kids need from her as a parent … my happy comment about a fun childhood memory started my brain a whirling and brought a smile to my face… swiftly followed by tears. Tears I didn’t understand at first… A few moments later homesickness took over like a swift kick to the gut and I started sobbing. But this wasn’t a normal bout of homesickness… this was a deep and intense sorrow for the days of my childhood, the happy memories of my Mom AND my Dad, plus me & 5 siblings all together, happy and loving one another.
I don’t often talk about my childhood. It was mostly happy. There was your typical drama and teenage angst, longing for attention and acceptance, adventures with friends, struggles with my weight, crushes on boys, secrets with my girlfriends and growing up too quickly. As the oldest of 6 kids, I was expected to be the mature, adult-type, responsible kid. I don’t hold that (too much) against my parents.
All of those happy, and even the not quite happy, memories seem to have been completely obscured by my parents very bitter, not at all amicable, horribly messy divorce when I was 19.
They hadn’t been happy for a long time, that was no secret. There had been several trial separations and reconciliations, lots of yelling matches and more drama than any family should have to deal with. I used to make jokes about “running away” with out ever having left home… as soon as I got my license I was gone, either working or hanging out with friends, only returning home to sleep, shower or change.
When my parents announced that last time that they were splitting up, this time likely for good, my life got turned upside down.
There wasn’t going to be room for me in the 3 bedroom house my Mother was renting. I was given the option of moving out or sharing a room with my 3 sisters. So I moved out, got a house with 3 other girls (hello Freaking DRAMA, but that’s another story for another time), shifted into fiercely independent mode and moved on with my life. That included, serial dating, racking up one heck of a credit card bill and never stopping or taking the time to truly deal with my parents break up.
Fast Forward 12 years and I’m bawling my eyes out remembering happier times… Sock fights, building snow men, family trips to the cottage or to Florida, Working in the garden with my Dad, learning to cook and follow recipes with my Mom, playing cops and robbers or cowboys and indians with my siblings, sleeping on the trampoline under the stars, picnics in the woods…
Now, I barely have a relationship with my Mom, and what we have is strained at best. I don’t speak to one of my brothers (his choice, not mine) and the rest of my siblings are so far away I haven’t seen them in 3.5 years. My relationship with my Dad has drastically improved over the past few years and for that I am extremely grateful.
Maybe its the time of year, too many episodes of Bluebloods (I LOVE the family dynamic in that show), getting older or a combination of all of the above, but some how after reading Cassie’s post it hit me… I never really took the time to be sad and grieve over the loss of my family as a whole. Almost 19 years of mostly happy family memories are overshadowed by the drama that came later, my Mom’s hatred for my Dad, and the lack of relationship with him that resulted. I went from shocked and angry, to busy little miss independent, to dating/married/working woman, to divorced and bitter myself… all with never taking the time to mourn the loss of my family.
Now at the age of 31 I’m realizing just how deeply the loss of my parents relationship impacted me and I’m thinking maybe some counseling is in order? I don’t know if I’ll go… I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt, But this is my emotional epiphany… its time to let myself grieve, and its perfectly okay to remember the happier times.