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Un-anniversary

Today would have been my parent’s 35th wedding anniversary.

I suppose it still is, but they’re on the verge of a divorce. It’s odd when your parents separate when you’re an adult. I mean you have your own life. My brother even has his own family.

Although, in some ways you do feel like you’re a kid again. Your parents’ marriage is a part of the foundation of your life. How they feel about each other means something to your own wellbeing for better or worse. How they relate, love, interact and take care of each other plays a big part in every relationship you’ll have, which is probably why everyone needs therapy.

This has been going on since February, so we’ve been living it for a while. I do feel divided. I have to learn new boundaries. I have to divide my time. Holidays are strange. I am bouncing back in forth between their two houses because I want them both to be okay. I know it isn’t my job or responsibility to do that but I’m a caretaker. But I’ve learned that I can’t be their confidant. I can’t listen to the negative about either of them. I didn’t get to choose my parents I just have to learn how to love them. They got to choose each other and can’t seem to figure out how to do it either.

So it’s a sad day as a child, an adult and a bystander. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel. I knew there were problems but I really thought they’d work them out. We were used to the dysfunction. We were accustomed to how things were. I never thought they’d give up. I’m disappointed. I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m confused.

I wonder where we’ll go from here as a family. My mom now lives 30 minutes away. My brother isolates himself. I feel like I’m in the middle. My dad is just silent. Maybe we’re finally showing on the outside how we’ve been living for the last 20 years. Reality is hard to face.

I have to believe there is redemption of somesort. I want to believe that our family will in some way be better or all of this. I suppose that is up to us as individuals. At the end of the day its their marriage. It is their lives. We all have to move forward. We all have to mourn in our own way. I just hope at the end of the day we find a new way to overlap our lives and don’t all slide in different directions.

Family

I’m emptying my brain in this post as I think about family, Ohio, Mexico and my relationships with all those things. Just wanted to warn you that I’m thinking out loud.I leave for Ohio tomorrow. I’m going back to see if I want to live there. Am I ready to leave California, my home for more than 10 years, to be closer to my family? There are so many pros and cons on both sides. My main motivating factor is my nephews. I want to watch them grow up. I also want to recapture a sense of history, connection and family with them. We’ve been very disconnected for a while.

What’s keeping me here is familiarity and great friends. I have an amazing support network that is better than my family most times. I can count on them in every way. I really do love my family, but I wonder if moving back there would slowly suffocate me. Would I really be alone there?

At 18 I left Mexico and moved to So. California for college. I feel like at that moment my parents and I parted ways. In some ways, after that they weren’t really a major part of my life. I’m sure they have a different take on that, but I felt alone. I didn’t realize that going to college made me an instant adult – I think someone forgot to add the magic adult powder to my drink. I feel like I was thrown in the deep end of the pool and told to swim when I didn’t know how. I had to figure out to do everything on my own in a country I hadn’t lived in for years. I was lost.

It’s funny because my dad makes a big deal about Mexicans having an amazing sense of family. Unlike white families they don’t kick their kids out at 18, but are there for them to continue to support and nurture them. That wasn’t my experience. They came to visit me twice in four years. My mom said coming to see me in school made her sad and jealous because she didn’t get that in her life. At 18, she got knocked up with me and had to flush her dreams down the toilet. Isn’t it amazing what sticks in your brain. She probably doesn’t even remember saying that, but I even recall what she was wearing when she said it.

If I wanted to see them I had to go back to Mexico, a place I hated. I didn’t feel like I had a home anywhere. My brother left for a while, but he went back, married a Mexican and has stayed close to my parents ever since. He did it the “right” way. I was the rebellious one. Then again, I left, I didn’t stay close. If I had stayed would they have been more active in my life?

At 18, I don’t know if I wanted to leave my parents as much as I wanted to get the hell out of Mexico. My time there bordered on traumatic. For example, we moved to Mexico and none of us knew how to speak Spanish. As a result, I was put in a lower grade, instead of going into 7th grade I was put into 6th. Now let’s think about this. Most Mexicans are short, so their children are downright diminutive. I am a virtual jolly green giant compared to them. I felt like Billy Madison or Robin Williams in that movie where he ages like 10 years a second. Then there was my favorite, when the teacher, who still blamed the U.S., and therefore me, for stealing Texas and California asked me what it was like to be white. I still don’t know how to answer that? I don’t even have a snappy comeback. Even now as I contemplate that question I just sit with a puzzled look on my face. I can feel my eyebrow furrow as my head cocks to the side and I ponder the implications of that question. What in the world is she talking about?

Why this regression down the highway of hell? I dont’ know. I lost my train of thought and was suddenly catapulted back to standing in front of the classroom trying to defend my forefathers and race, of which I am only half. Should I have offered retribution? Maybe I should have offered to call the president and see what we could do? At 12, I just went to sit down.

My parents were in Mexico on a mission from God. There were a lot of good things about Mexico and our time there, but also enough to shatter our family, we lived an image of what family should be. Acted like we were supposed to. Yet, we lost our ability to be a cohesive unit. We were all individual islands fighting for survival.

I digress. What does living in Ohio mean? Am I giving up my independence? There would have to be some serious boundaries. I just want to be a part of my family again. I want to be a part of the holidays, BBQ’s, I want them in my life. But in some ways when I go back there I become the 18 year old who wants to be protected, loved, supported, nurtured by her parents. I don’t want to be her anymore. I don’t like the role I play there. I want to be the 29 year old, educated, successful woman that I am in CA. Can I be that in Ohio? My family sees me a certain way, I don’t know if I like the image of me that they have. But do I know what they really think?

But again, I have to go to them. I have to do it on their terms. I just broke up with my boyfriend because he only wanted me in his life on his terms. Should I let my family get away with it? What about me and what I want? Problem is, I don’t know what I want or where I want to be.

That’s not entirely true. I want to be loved for me. I want people in my life who seek me out. Who care how I feel and what I think. Thank God for my friends here. They are my family.

 

4 Comments:

Jeremy said…
I think you make a good point about your friends and that they provide you support. As to your question about whether you should hold your family to the same standard as a friend or boyfriend, ehhhhhh …See, you pick your friends. You can’t pick family, and so there’s sometimes a built-in incompatibility that just sucks sometimes. My dad and I get along great as long as we don’t talk about anything that matters to me. I used to be bitter about that, but now I realize it’s just the way things are. As I get older, I’ve come to value what camaraderie I can squeeze out of that relationship rather than trying to make it perfect for the sake of perfection.

Maybe you don’t need support from your family, but if you’re gonna move back there you better be sure you’re going to get it somewhere. You’re right about not wanting to be 18 again; you’re better than that, and regressing for the sake of your family members’ own issues would rob the world of something great.

(gets off soapbox)

12:30 PM
Marti said…
Thank you for the thoughtful insight as always Jer. I should put stalking you as one of the pros of moving to Ohio :)You’re right, we’re stuck with our families for better or worse. But letting go of expectations is a bitch. How do you do that? How do you downgrade what your family is supposed to be for you? I want to. I want to let go. I want to move on. In someways I think that’s why I held onto Brian for so long. I knew we weren’t right together, but he represented family in a tangible way. When we talked about marriage I thought I was finally going to get my own. Not the best reason for getting married I know. But with him I felt like I had a place where I belonged. Maybe these are just some residual MK issues. A sense of belonging, knowing your place in the world

12:43 PM
Jeremy said…
I’ve always thought it’d be an honor to have a stalker, but I think Ohio’s a little far away from Mizzou (unless my geography is as fuzzy as most Americans’).I don’t know if downgrading is in order. Honestly, I don’t know what the perfect relationship with my dad would look like; would he be interested in everything I am? would he see the world as I do? I don’t know. People are imperfect, so there’s always something out there.

Instead, I just try to see my relationship with my dad as what it is, and go from there. What makes it hard is that I have an incredible relationship with my mom, so it’s very very easy to compare those two. And my dad sees that too; he knows we’re not super-close, so he probably makes that comparison. Thing is, we still can’t seem to do anything about it, maybe we’re just built differently? So it is what it is. Some people are just not built to be close, I’ve decided. Some people would call that a cop out, I say it beats the hell out of fighting for the 1-2 weeks a year you see each other.

1:07 PM
Marti said…
Ohio is not that far from MO. I’m sure I could even do a fair amount of stalking even from CA if I set my mind to it 🙂 Are you tempting me?I guess part of it is learning to accept people who they are with all of their good and bad points. I guess if you can do that then the expectations are minimized because you will become more cognizant of what they are capable of. Granted, that is a purely intellectual answer. The reality of it is that I think we’re born to want a relationship with our parents. But given temperments and personalities maybe that just isn’t possible. But you learn to love one another as individuals and go from there. I know that my dad’s only truly interested when someone is talking about God, ministry, sports, gadgets or cars. Other than that he’s tuned out. So if I want to talk to him I tend to talk about one of those categories. Other than that he goes into counselor or pastor mode and tells me what to do. He likes to reason you down until you submit. My brother on the other hand is a pastor who loves sports and cars so they have a TON in common.

Bottom line … I have no idea. LOL