Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Family Secrets

Have you ever wondered how and why some families are Ozzy and Harriet and some are more like The Modern Family? I used to. Have not for years though. I figured out that the Ozzy and Harriet families were either in denial or lying about the reality of their own life. If you will remember, Mr. Brady (Brady Bunch for you young ones) died of AIDS. How is that for normal? I dare say that a "normal" family is beyond us at this juncture in life. Kids that I grew up with had their own family drama. You had the person that was adopted, the one that had to be perfect because of a sibling that was the drama, the working single mom, the one who got into everything and then some (THE person not to be around), the one whose mom left her at your house for hours on end and ended up coming at midnight (was "working"...ummm...sure), the family that should have split up years before because it was constant fighting at home...yes there was a regular Breakfast Club in my class. Everyone had their own melodrama. Most, outwardly did not discuss their melodramatic lives. They lived in their own public world. Just to go home to the private one they ignored for 12 hours out of the day. No, we were not at all different on the inside. Perhaps a different drama but really no different in the end. Families are like that. They are not perfect. Normal is quite relative in these times. What is normal to some is not to others. Apparently, life is not any different for LitlBit and her world of acquaintances. Recently I spoke to a parent who has an adorable child that is friends with LitlBit. In our conversation I felt like I was that child long ago! The dad is absent from their life. By choice, by force, by whatever, he is not there. The child is beginning to question. At age 5 it seems the questions start. Where is he? Why don't I have someone there at a Father's Day deal? Yes. The questions. They begin now and likely will never stop. The questions will always come--just a different type of question as the child grows up. The parent and I talked about this. About what to say, how to say it, what I wish had been done. Wow. Talk about an in depth retrospect! What do I wish had been done...what would have helped? I wish everyone had been honest and real at minimum. That way, now, I would not be picking up the pieces to a puzzle that is missing a few! The sad thing is that no matter what the mom does...the dad is not there. There will always be a void that will not be filled. How do I tell this mom (who is trying so hard) to keep in mind that there will always be questions and never enough answers? I look into the eyes of the child and think about what they may wonder over the years. How it will go in stages but will always be there. How it is not something you get over no matter how well you explain it. In the end they will have this hurt. The child apparently has siblings from the father's family as well. I tried my best to explain to the mom that was another issue that needed to be brought up now. Handling it all later is not good by any stretch of the imagination. I can say with certainty that lies of omission are just as bad as any other. Sometimes they are the worst kind of lie there is in this world. With this child I only hope that there are none. However, even if there are, someone knows. You never really know who is privy and who is being told the secrets that you think you have hidden. A person is not a secret nor can a person be hid. This innocent child will grow up. No matter if the father is absent or not they will grow up. If you are willing to accept the fall-out years from now, feel free to lie. Otherwise, everyone should be an adult now. They should not be on the outside looking in so to speak. Not gutsy enough to speak out but yet cowardice enough to try to find ways to look in. It is amazing that once upon a time I was that child I was trying to help. I was the quiet child wondering why. Now, I am the adult that is nowhere near shy. The adults that once made the decisions are no longer in charge. The omissions have come out. The child of 5 is an adult and not a quiet one! According to the husband, I am NOT shy, not one to hide, and definitely not one to allow wrongs to occur if in my presence. Agreed. But, in turn, I am also a person who will confront those misgivings. If my daughter learns anything from this experience I hope that it is not to lie. Too many people have...granted they may have thought it was best...but in the end lies are not. They simply create another layer of problems. This is not just true of an issue itself but of people too. If you have an issue with something or someone you should voice it. Likewise, if you want to know something you should ask it. You should not hide around corners hoping to catch a glimpse into their lives. Hiding behind corners makes you no better than the person openly lying. It makes you a coward. Family secrets are a source of contention. I am lucky in one sense. I am old enough to laugh. Old enough to realize that everyone has their own agenda so to speak. Everyone that I have talked to (strangers and friends) hear the tales and laugh too. For the true person comes out at some point. Just watch, wait, listen...you can always count on it. Lies and secrets are like an infection that spreads. The wound gets worse with every lie. The scar that remains will always be a reminder of it. For LitlBit's friend I hope that their journey through life is one that shields them from the questions and hurt that I went through (and still do in some ways). I know that the mother is trying their best to shield them from all the fall out. That is nowhere near easy to do either. I do that right now with LitlBit. She has an emotional investment in all of this as well. As a mother she is the most precious thing in the world to me. Although, she has come at this from a far different angle than I, it is still a precarious situation for her. I want her life to be filled with joy. All mothers should want this. This is not easy given the situation. However, the funny thing in the end is that no matter what happens, what people say/want/desire/think...the present is as it is. You cannot change that. You cannot change who you are or the facts of life. No matter how you try to monkey with it. Nothing can be changed. Words do not change it. I am among the lucky. I grew up without my father in my life BUT with a loving mother, wonderful grandparents, and an excellent education. I grew up and married my high school sweetheart. I married my best friend. We have a beautiful and smart angel, my job sends me around the world (as well as LitlBit). I have a beautiful life. My husband tells me often how my life would not have been this way with the alternative. I would not be as headstrong, not as steadfast, not where I am. Is that true? Perhaps. I grew up to be a strong individual. I took lemons and made lemonade! I did not play the martyr card that some play 24/7. I decided early on that what other people did does not define me. I am still a firm believer in that. No one determines my fate but me. I determine everything about my existence. This includes the notification of such. I am sure that some wish that I never picked up the phone. But, once again, I determine my fate. Others' lies have no control over my truths. The quiet child I am no longer! The friend's child, I feel certain will also take lemons and make lemonade! Unlike some that may whine because the lemons are too sour! No, it may not be as we wanted. But, it was as it was intended. God had a plan for both of us when we were born. For me, today, He still has a plan. I am trying. Trying to forgive, understand, listen...trying to figure out the future with someone who was supposed to be there years ago. Trying to allow my past to stay there and begin a future. This may not be a fairytale but it does not mean we can't all live happily ever after 'ya know!