Friday, December 17, 2010

Fractured Families for the Holidays

I'm feeling the Holiday Season full force today. I'm missing some of my family as I always do at times that traditionally speak family. I have two adult children , who do not visit me during holiday times. It isn't because I live too far away. It isn't simply because there is not enough time to travel. It is because they do not want to share the holiday with me. I know many fractured families exist. I know that I am not alone in feeling the loss more when a holiday approaches. The knowledge that I share this grief doesn't seem to make it any better, but I believe it has to help.

I'm writing this trying hard not to air my dirty laundry to the world, but still letting others know that I share their pain. I know what it is like to be more a bother than a loved one. I have no sage advice or clear idea of how to solve this syndrom of family undone. In our society, we have plural marriages, half siblings, parents living in separate cities and even states and countries. We have hurt children and lost connections littering our lives.

We have children of divorce that are unable to move forward from the pain their parents inflicted on them. I am sure that parents don't mean to hurt their children. I know I didn't want to hurt mine; yet managed to knife them so deep the wounds have never healed. I remember plotting and planning just when and how I would escape a bad marriage without hurting anyone. In the process, everyone was hurt no matter how I justified my decisions. I told myself that my children could never learn to respect me if I stayed in a marriage where I was a second-class partner with no rights. In fact, they still see me as the woman with no rights or rational thought. They see me and treat me much like their father did. I could not leave behind what I had already taught them so well.

For years, I fooled myself that I had escaped my fate. My children seemed to admire me, love me and even respect me. It was just foolishness on my part to believe it could be true. I think they were only trying to please me. It didn't take much to shatter the veneer that wrapped their true vision of me. When the crack appeared, I became much less important. My actions and beliefs were easily disrespected and I was delegated to be a second-class mother. I taught them well in their formative years what to think of me . What they experienced was true. It doesn't matter that I am no longer that same woman. They do not care to hear me protest.

I made mistakes along the way; which now have been strung up on a banner proving my lack of worth. We as parents only do the best with what we have. I was a fragil, weak woman with an over simplified view of life. I thought if you loved enough, tried enough and were good enough, life would end up fine. It takes so much more than that! Looking back, the most tragic mistake I made was to not stand up for myself early on. I should have stood up to the husband and then I should have stood up to my children. Love does not always win. You have to do what is the right thing to do. Tough love would have even been a good thing.

If someone is reading this today and knew me long ago, they would not recognize much of who I am today. My own children do not recognize who I am. I have a strong core of what I believe is the right thing to do. I make myself do what is right even when it is uncomfortable. I stand up for myself. I stand up for others. I am still kind. I still love well, but I have tempered this with a fierce fiber that I give myself no choice about. I smile to myself knowing I would die for some of what I believe. I have no doubt that some things in life can be that important. I know I put myself in danger of being hurt, unliked and sometimes shunned by my need to be a voice that will not be silenced. I don't have to think of what I will do in a situation where I see disrespect, unkindness and intolerance. I already know. I have already decided what I need to do.

So, holiday times can be tough when those you love choose to not be with you. I have friends and other family that love me. They share those times with me, but I miss those faces from my past. There are holes in my holidays that cannot be covered with cheer and laughter. I imagine there are many of us fighting back the tears that want to come by baking cookies for our neighbors, shopping for the less fortunate or like me creating one more craft that maybe I might send to a grandchild I never see.

It would be easier not to write this. I seldom let others peek into my reality of my fractured family. I don't want pity. I do feel an overwhelming need to share today for those others who have the same situation. They may feel like I often do that maybe this dirty laundry is just that and should be kept in a basket hidden from guest. Let it be known that there are many of us this holiday season trying hard to bury their pain from the view of others.

Give out hugs, good cheer and maybe share a story of imperfection of your own. All families are not perfect. Life is not always fair. Many of us want to know we are not alone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you said this very well. I think you also probably helped someone who read this. I just happened along, noticed the pretty photo and started reading, and backtracked from there. I am sorry for your pain and hope that one day your children will realize that we only live once, and that the time we are here on earth is very short. I hope time heals....debbie

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We moved to our current home on the Wild River Coast of Southern Oregon from San Jose, CA. Our family consist of Jim and Karen, two dogs and two cats. Karen's passion is gardening. Jim's obsession is building electric powered fishing kayaks and fishing.