Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Something Different, Something Better

Don't judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins. 
~Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons

My dad used to wear a pair of moccasins around the house when I was a kid. They kept his feet warm during cold Michigan winters. To this day, he calls most of his house shoes moccasins, whether they are or not. It's memories like these that make me smile, make me want something more...

When I look back at many of the posts I've written, I realize that some of you readers might think I come from a dysfunctional family. So this will not be news to you when I say that yes, yes, I do. But don't we all have some dysfunction in the family? I can only imagine what my children will say years from now, maybe when they're writing their own blog about their lives, their journeys, their children. Actually, I'm a little bit afraid of what they'll say. Because even though I'm busy, my kids and their relationship with me is the most important thing in my life (along with my relationship with Tim). Yes, I'm saying that running (or lack thereof), writing, teaching, reading--all of those come second, third, etc., behind the kids. And of course, I want to cultivate a relationship where my children will be writing good things about me, not bad.

However, I'm not so naive to think that our relationships will never suffer through rough patches. Right now, for example, I find myself having to speak to the kids in a sharper tone than I'd like to, in order to get them to listen. Their teenage and tweenage brains aren't focused on me and what I have to say. But at the end of the day (and even throughout the day) we voice a quick I love you or share a warm hug. I try to hone in on those positive feelings, make sure they come to the surface, so to speak, so that when bedtime comes, my kids go to sleep with smiles on their faces and warm fuzzies wrapped around them.

I don't always feel those positive feelings for my family. My sisters, yes. My parents? No. And yes, I just divulged that dirty little secret, out loud, in this public forum. I can't say exactly what happened along the way to this point in my life. Was something lacking in my childhood? Did I not have enough affection or time from my parents? Is there something they did or neglected to do such that here, in 2015, I find myself more detached from my parents than I ever thought possible? Was there something I did or neglected to do?

I don't have the answer to those questions and I'm not going to spend the time trying to figure out the wouldas, couldas, or shouldas of things that happened decades ago. I'm also not going to blame my folks for those feelings of detachment. I am, after all, an adult and I know that each relationship is a two-way street. But I do have to say that I think my life could be different, here in 2015, had my parents not decided to close up shop. Because as of the last decade or so of their lives, they've found the need to keep their little world intact, at the expense of personal relationships--including those relationships with their daughters.

I hate the thought that I just wrote that sentence above. It pains me to think that what I'm saying is true, but it is. I want to be clear here, though. What I wrote is not a complaint, it is an observation. Yes, I've been hurt by them in the past (distant and not-so distant). My relationship with my parents seems, from my perspective, not to be all that important to them. We repeat the same cycle of miscommunication and pain too often for me to believe that they understand what they're doing to me and my kids. But even if they don't truly understand what they are doing, I have to wonder why the cycle keeps happening. Why do I keep getting hurt when I communicate to them that they have hurt me? If you hurt someone and that someone tells you that you hurt him or her, don't you try to avoid hurting that person again? Any sane person would, right?

But again, I must go back to their drive to stay within the comfort zone of their own world, within the confines of the walls they've built. That need to stay where they are must be a survival need for them, something based within the most vestigial part of their brain, something that wipes out all logic. For I'd like to think that if they truly understood what they are doing, they wouldn't be doing it.

Which means I must take the higher road. I only have one family, after all. Yes, I've been hurt, and yes, I'll survive. And I won't like it if my parents hurt me again. But when I think about friends of mine who would give anything to have a parent back in their lives, I am reminded to be grateful. I'm reminded to forgive but not forget. I'm reminded to try and make my life, and my kids' lives, something different, something better, something worthy of writing about.


Unknown said...

I think that the truth is that as we grow up and have healthy relationships with friends, husbands and children that we have an expectation that those who we have known the longest would treat us the same as we our relationships and how we treat those that hurt us. I would give ANYTHING to have one more conversations with both of my parents- but here is some raw truth - they hurt me a lot too when they were living - not sure if they ever "got" that. I think that once you move away from some dysfunction that you begin to see how very different the outside world is as opposed to where you came from. I loved my parents and still do but they just didn't get it most of the time...thanks for sharing your truth - how very brave of you xoxoxox

Christina said...

You were one of the friends I was thinking of when I made that statement. And I do feel sometimes like I'm complaining, when I don't mean to. Writing is so cathartic; it's my therapy. And I am thankful that they're in my life, albeit marginally. I'm also thankful for friends like you. :)

Unknown said...

I don't think what you are doing is complaining at all! I think that it's okay to admit the hurt and anger - it's healthy . When my dad was living he was 1.5 hrs from from my sweet nephew and he rarely visited him - we never understood that.
Anyway -
Thanks for sharing your truth

Anonymous said...

Writing is cathartic, and I don't think it's complaining to write the truth. I have a family that communicates horribly, and a mother I've told MANY times that she's hurt me. It's never changed her behavior and I just don't get it. Why doesn't she want to stop hurting her daughter!? I moved in the beginning of March, I live literally 5 minutes away from her, she still hasn't made it up to see the place. It's frustrating, from my way of thinking it's not that hard to pop by for a few minutes to get the tour. Why won't she visit me!? Can't she step away from playing solitaire for 15 min and come see me? Unfortunately, she can't. A lot of bad has happened in her life and I really don't think she can get outside her own little "safe" bubble that she's surviving in. She won't reach out to me, or let me reach out to her. It's frustrating!

I think the important thing to focus on is not to expect something from someone that they cannot give. You wouldn't expect a paraplegic person to jump up and hug you when you meet them. Some people just don't know how to love, or change. Some people really don't know how to put themselves into someone else's shoes. I think it's good that you want to take the high road. Being frustrated with parents and staying bitter about it all won't be good for anyone!