I know I have tried to stay away from these family rants after my first few, but there are just too many questions that I have. Just letting go of family members because they refuse to give me answers seems quite counter productive, even if they refuse to speak to me for any other reason. They are the only source of information available for the answers to my questions and issues. This is not a ‘go to the library’ issue.
I know that we all have ‘skeletons in our closets,’ and by me asking these questions, undoubtedly, I am rattling those ‘skeletons,’ but at the same time, I am trying to free mine. I am not attempting to damage, harm or discredit anyone. This is something, it seems, not many people care to undertake, not just in their own lives, but in the entire realm of the family.
I have no desire to expose anyone, or to disrupt the layer of dust on the surface, but I really have to ask, “What can there possibly be in those closets that is going to change anyone’s already established and fossilized perception of anyone else?” After so many years of keeping those skeletons neatly tucked away, them getting out and dancing around in front of everyone is not going to ruin the party.
Really. Let’s get started.
One last thing. I am not writing to damage or berate anyone. I am writing to get it off of my chest and to possibly help others realize that they can heal. We all go through changes. Some severe, some not so severe. Regardless, we go through changes and often wish we had someone to talk to.
There was a 50-year-old secret revealed in my family just a year or two ago. The outcome was good for all involved, I was not directly involved in the revelation, but everyone seems happy with the resolution. There is, however, the fact that the person hiding the secret, or at least thinking that no one else knew, had no intention of ever apologizing to all those family members that were alienated during the 50 years of hiding that secret. Not just the members whom were actually a part of the situation, but those whom had to dodge or endure the fallout. The children of the person with the secret were victims in the situation. This person made some very disparaging accusations, did their best to gather as many to their side, undertook the whole ‘I’m the good guy’ campaign. No one that I know in my family, or not in my family, bought it. We all knew.
The secret, in this case, is not the issue I care to address now. I wrote about that in another entry. The issue is how badly that secret, and everyone who knew it was a lie, were damaged by it. The original denial actually became the tool which damaged the family fabric causing the damage that remains today. I have been told, “You have to let go, you have to move on. You can’t live in the past.” I absolutely agree, but, just like an apology, without knowing what it is for or why it needs to be issued, there will be no resolution. One must know what one is letting go of before one can let go of it. There may be valuable information which leads to healing that has been sought after by me for many years. This is my motivation. I want to jettison the past. But without going over it with a fine toothed comb, I will be just as empty afterwards as I am now. I can not be a good Christian, husband, sibling or man without these answers. I may die an unfinished project, but I desire to come as close to completion as I can before that final step.
Are you still with me?
When I was just a small tyke, our family seemed to do well. Laughing, hugging, the regular type of family. All was good. We went for rides in the car. My father had the coolest ’57 Chebby. Orange and white I think. I remember riding in the front seat and being able to see the sky. The dashboard was huge, the front window was huge, but I couldn’t see the road. All I could see was the radio in the dashboard. He wouldn’t let me stand in the front seat. Seat-belts had not been invented yet. He was a good dad. By the way, the Chebby in the photo over there is his.
He never took me to get my first burger, but that’s no biggy. Really, I can live with that. At least I don’t remember if he did. He didn’t take me fishing ever, either. I know that he wasn’t a ‘fishing’ kind of guy. I have no idea whether his father was or not. He never has talked much about his father with me. I would love to hear it. I don’t remember much about anywhere he had ever taken me or my brothers. Maybe we were just too young to remember any of that, or we just never did go. I am not sure. We were all quite young boys, looking up to our dad. That’s not the point here.
When dad and mom got married, I’m sure they had ideas and dreams just like any other couple. New house, kids and a dog in the yard, maybe he would even start a business. White picket fence, flower garden, maybe grow vegetables out back. Seriously, who doesn’t want to start out like that? In the whole process, it would only get better. Two car garage, you know the deal.
That never happened.
I really don’t know what threw everything in the ditch, but it happened in less than ten years. Very sad situation. I will have been married for 12 years this coming May, but we started very late. I was 47, she was 41 when we met, through our computers, on the web. We married a year and four months later. All of the fences, kids, dogs were all behind us. Actually, neither of us had ever done that. We married each other and had both never been married before. Unusual, isn’t it? No kids between the two of us.
At the time when I was just eight years old, a divorce came out of nowhere. I don’t know what the facts were about it. I never did get them. My mother is now gone, may she rest in peace. My father is in his 80s and there is no one else left around from either side of the family of whom I can ask. So I only have my father to get the facts from and he’s not talking.
Here is the reason I am writing this piece.
The other night, my wife and I watched a program on television. “APB with Troy Dunn.” We had never seen this program before and we were waiting for “Everybody Loves Raymond” to come on. So we watched a stop-gap show, and “APB with Troy Dunn” was it.
The premise was this. A man had contacted Troy Dunn about finding his other two younger brothers. Troy facilitates sibling reunions. I think the man’s name was Dennis. They had been willfully separated at a very young age.
I have two younger brothers. I know where they are. I talk with one, the other is like my father, that being damaged goods and just won’t attempt to heal, so he avoids me. I live nearly 3,000 miles from all of them. They are all within 100 miles of each other. They are not lost, but our relationships are nearly non-existent. There was obviously a bit of damage done after the divorce.1 I know we were all shuffled from one household to another, separately, for many years. Actually, when we became old enough to get stable and support ourselves, it was a relief to all concerned, however, there were many years of ‘learning’ to be family that just never happened. Now days, I believe, due to that, our fabric of family is in shreds. There were problems with my mother and us before she passed. There are problems with us three boys and our father.
How can this be? Things were intended to be ideal when it all started. In fact, I’m certain it was. Regardless, that fabric now is nearly non-existent. Whatever that damage is, my brothers either don’t care to straighten it out and live a better life, or they do not want to deal with it. I prefer to understand it and get the healing over with. No one is getting younger.
The tv program I spoke about allowed the man, whom had initiated the process of locating his brothers, to attempt to mend that fabric. He being the oldest of three at 4, 3 and 2 years old when he had last been in contact with them. No fabric had even started to begin to knit, or exist. No unity had been established, so those powers in charge were able to do as they pleased with these three boys and cause a minimal amount of damage. Nothing that could be torn down had yet been built or knotted. This struck a chord within me. My two brothers and I were, as I said, shuffled from here to there. We were not a unit, a package, a trio. We were all one part of a trio. For years, I was shuffled from aunt to grandma to grandma to strangers to anywhere. I was around 14 when it all started to settle down. Along the time I was eight to ten or eleven years old, I lived with Gammy. As I said, she was the center of stability and love for me. I believe she was well aware of the fabric, but it wasn’t within her power to take any of us from our mother. Had it been, I believe my brothers and I would all be much stronger in love and compassion for each other. It’s hard to say, but I’m sure we would have been a tighter trio had it been so. This ‘shuffling’ was a part of all three of our lives.
So, what went through my head was exactly this as I watched this man search for his siblings.
As I watched this program, his two brothers were located, as well as two sisters he didn’t know he had. This was wonderful news. As the reunion took place, I cried. Who wouldn’t? He hadn’t seen his brothers in at least 25 years, didn’t know he had sisters. Very sweet reunion. As I watched, I wanted to be able to even get to the stage of hugging with my two brothers, but that will never happen unless they understand what I understand. That being that even though they swear they do not live in the past, they are smack in the middle of the past. It affects them everyday. If your family fabric has been rent as mine and my brothers has, you will not get past it until you recognize it, realize it, acknowledge and accept that there is a problem. Only then can you begin to repair it or replace it and get past it. To get to a point where you can live in it again, or build a new cloth.
When the divorce had settled into my family and the path of despair for my mother had been laid, all that was left was for us to understand what we were now unable to escape. I assume that my father was broken up about it. He had just declared victory in separating from his wife. Without a doubt, like a death. He had just spent at least eight years with this woman, had produced three children and was carrying the family as a father does. Although, when the divorce was final, he left for another big city. We seldom saw him, we had to be around when he did appear. if there were any visiting rights established, I didn’t know about them and wouldn’t understand them had I known. What I knew was, “Where’s dad?” There were times when he would visit and pull a stack of papers from his glove box and tell us, “See, I pay the support. I do what I should do.” I don’t think he realized that we had no clue what he was talking about. Undoubtedly, he wanted us to know he was doing the right thing, but that wasn’t important to us. Our bikes, baseball caps, toys and sandwiches were important to us. One can not get past that at eight years old when one has no one to teach them.
I have no children, I have been married for 11 years and I know it would break my heart to lose my wife in any manner at all. More so if I willingly separated from her. I can’t imagine the pain.
I was eight years old, Kevin was five and Kary was two. We had no concept of what we were not a part of, that being family. We did not know what it was like to be the center of attention, as young boys and girls normally are. Every hug, every trip to the circus, everything that we did was scheduled. If it ever even happened, it had to happen when mom was at home. Now, granted, couples divorce. No big revelation there, but they seldom see things from small, scared eyes. They see things from eyes shrouded in hate, convenience, despair, even eyes that see no one but themselves. Children standing next to them that appear to be a tool, or don’t appear at all. Undoubtedly, there are divorces that appear to end amicably. Hmm… Sounds like an oxymoron, does it not? The parents lose a house, a car, a dog or cat, the children lose everything. They lose a stable future. Back to square one. What they gain is a parent that will spend the formative years of the child compensating for what is no longer available to the parent or the child. A fabric of family that is now in tatters.
This is nothing a child should deal with. A parent who is trying to appear ‘composed.’ A parent who is attempting to appear as though their ‘other’ just ‘ran out to get some milk and will be back in a minute’ for the next however many years to come. Don’t put your children through that. Don’t put yourself through that. Breaking your little ones’ hearts, trying to look like your heart isn’t broken. Don’t do it. Make a way for things to fit into your family fabric.
When I watched the reunion on this tv show, I wanted so badly for that to be me and my brothers. We are so far apart in spirit it isn’t even funny. There is doubt, resentment, fear of betrayal. Many aspects of a rent fabric that exist in three men. I miss my two brothers and my father deeply, even as they live, and I am 60 years old. I need the fabric to heal. If it doesn’t, it is what I will have to live with. I feel fortunate in that I see that there is a problem that needs repair, rather than not seeing or not wanting to fix things. I hope for the best. A reunion in the spirit of family is what I hope for, but I also fear that will not happen before dad is gone. He is 81, he is in ill-health with a terminal disease. Most of all, I don’t want him to go without feeling what I want to feel. Unity where unity has never existed.
If the fabric of your family is nearly beyond repair, start on it now. Make things work. You have one life, and if you have suffered a situation where you saw your family crumble, know that at no time are you too old to make a move. Once you reach the point of the skeletons dancing in the room and no one cares, you need to make the move. That is the time. It will never be easier than then. At least that’s the way I see it.
One last tip. If you attempt to step out and seek the answers to your issues as I am attempting to do, you are more than likely going to be met with resistance. You may even be cast aside by family members. I know. It has happened to me. If you encounter such, stay the course. It may take a year, two, three, maybe many more, but things will change. People will realize that there is no good in continuing to hide. In my family, I have pretty much become the nut-job in their eyes, but that doesn’t matter to me. I have lost no love for them and will never lose love for them, however, I no longer feel the desire to visit home. I do see even more clearly that there are answers that are being kept from me because of the knee-jerk I see in their responses. I don’t see that it will do any good for me to go there, but I may be wrong. In today’s world, people do not listen to reason as readily as they listen to whatever makes them feel comfortable, regardless of how inane those ideas may sound to others.
Life is good, and it is even better when you can step aside and let the right thing be the motivator.
Thanks for looking,