10 of 100

20 03 2013

10. How is the relationship between you and your parents?

My relationship with my parents is civil, but not deep. I grew up in a family that didn’t talk about feelings or show much affection. Everyone was apparently supposed to know they were loved without asking. I didn’t feel loved as a kid, and never felt that I belonged. For a couple of years around ages 5 and 6, I prayed every night as I went to bed that I would die in my sleep that night. In time I realized that this might not be the divine plan for me. For the next year or so I prayed that my real family would find me and that they would take to the place I belonged. Of course this didn’t happen, as I was already living with my biological family. My parents didn’t hate me, and I wasn’t physically abused. In retrospect I know they cared on some level, but it wasn’t enough and they weren’t very good pretending that it was.

For several years, beginning in my late 20’s, they had virtually no contact with me. I asked my mother once during this period if everyone in the family was well. She replied, “Yes.” I asked if everyone at church was okay. She replied, “Yes.” I asked if there was any work story she could tell me. She replied, “No.” I asked if she could make up a story just so could pretend to be talking. She replied, “No.” Such was our relationship for far too long.

Things have improved somewhat, and I now see my parents about once every two or three years. We live about 1,200 miles apart, so there is no natural or incidental occasion to run into each other. We’ve developed the ability talk about anything that is meaningless and socially appropriate. I’ve given up hope of ever having true dialogue with either of them. It seems so pointless, and such a waste of potential. Nevertheless, it is what it is. I will never really know them, or about the struggles or joys of their lives. I’ll never know what they daydream about, or hope to do some day. I have no idea what they hoped to be when they grew up, or what regrets they may have. And they know even less about me. But, when we’re together we honor the pretense of being a close, loving family.

“Smile, even if it’s a sad smile, because sadder than a sad smile is the sadness of not knowing how to smile.” –Author unknown


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