Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Family Dynamic

It took me a while to realize that no family is perfect.

When I was in eighth grade, I had a best friend who I thought had the absolute perfect family. I envied her and her life. Sometimes I even tried to pretend that I was her. It took a very long time, but eventually I realized that even her family isn't perfect.

& mine? It's far from perfect.

My parents dated & broke up and then dated later on after my dad had been married, gone through a divorce, and had an eight month old baby, my brother, Kyle.

Kyle was an adorable baby. Chubby with brown curls and happy at that. My mom immediately fell in love with him, which was good because my dad was a police officer so Mom had Kyle by herself a lot.

She loved hanging out with him. He would go three weeks here with my parents & three weeks in Tennessee with his mom. While he was here mom and he would go for walks, play, and she taught him a lot of things. He was a smart baby.

My mom was so in love with my dad who loved fatherhood & Kyle most of all. Dad was handsome, successful & an alcoholic. But at that time, the alcohol problem didn't matter. She was in love & love is blind.

They got married & lived happily for two years before I came along & Kyle had a baby sister.
Mom had wanted a baby so bad & she was so in love with me that more than once, she told me how she would just tell my dad over and over again, thank you for this beautiful baby. She worked for a terrible boss who made her travel a lot & she felt guilty. She hated being away from me & while she was gone, a lot of things got neglected. She would return to a house that was a mess, laundry not done and a baby that she missed desperately. She was exhausted.

My dad got pushed to the back burner.

His alcoholism got worse & he started having an affair.

My mom found out when I told her that I had met her friend at the ice skating rink with daddy.
"I dont have a friend there Ali" she'd say.
I would demand, "yes you do!! I met her. She knows daddy & she knows when you go on trips and stuff."

One day, she went to the ice skating rink while I was ice skating & I demanded again, "look mom!! THERE'S YOUR FRIEND!"

A blonde woman was skating against the wall. When the blond woman, who we know now as Connie, got off the ice, my mom went to introduce herself to her "friend". Her "friend" ran away.

So my parents fought. They fought a lot. But they stayed together. He had "gotten rid of her". It took 7 years over which my dad lost his job, went into depression, the alcoholism got worse, he got a DUI, Mom got her MBA, worked full time, & supported the family all on her own before she realized that he had never really gotten rid of Connie.

Also in those 7 years, Kyle came to live with his in Indiana. After a long custody battle which was just the beginning of the journey, Kyle moved into our house permanently when he was in 8th grade.

He was tough. He had come from a house with no rules to a house of structure. He came to a house that respected each other, kept things tidy, went to bed on time, did homework, was polite & ate dinner together. He fought it until he was a junior in high school. He would run away, he would curse, he would hit, he'd do anything & mostly, my mom had to take care of it on her own because dad was driving a truck or at a bar.

About Junior year Kyle came around & realized how lucky he is to have my mom. He became polite & respectful & worked hard.

Kyle's senior year, my 8th grade year, the inevitable happened. Our parents got divorced.

It was a shock to everyone when Kyle decided to keep living in the house with my mom and me. It was pretty hard on my dad who would always use the, "even Kyle hates you" card on my mom.

In the last 5 years our family dynamic has gotten so much better. Everyone is happier. My mom looks 20 years younger than she did when she was married and she's finally having fun. She goes on dates, hangs out with girlfriends and loves life. Kyle & I are much less stressed. Our parents mostly get along and neither of us have to live under a tension filled roof when we're home. It's a house of peace. A lot of times my mom will say, "its so nice to just have peace here now." and it is. My dad? well, he's a sad character. The glimmer of goodness that my mom saw in him the first few years, it's still there. & it's hard because now we only see him when he's good. He's a good guy, with a big heart, and a lot of issues. It's sad. He's not happy. I'm convinced that he never will be. He chose a fat, dumb, ugly whore over my brilliant, kind, beautiful, mother & he has to live with that mistake. He picked up & left his children who desperately needed a father. Life sucks for him most of the time.

The most sad thing? My parents still love each other. More than once, they've tried to make it work again, but he always screws up. They will always love each other, I'm convinced. & it's really unfortunate that my dad won't just get help. My mom always says that she's finally to the point now where we're out of the house & she's ready to do fun things & go out but he screwed up. He just couldn't wait for that time to come.

We're happier, but we're all left with scars, scars that will always be there & pop up in the worst times. In me, the scars come in the face of anxiety & of lack of trust & insecurities. They come from worrying about my mom, from having to grow up far too early & from being the "way too smart one" who told my mom everything that my dad didn't want her to know. "Kids are supposed to be seen and not heard."

Not this girl.
I'm gonna be heard.
& I'm here to say, that no family is perfect, and mine is at the top of the imperfect list.

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2 comments:

Megs said...

Wow... I'm stunned for a couple of reasons. The first is because of the amount of courage it takes to post something like this. It's so hard to bring our flaws and imperfections to the forefront, even when those parts of our lives are no fault of our own.

The second reason is because of the similarities I drew between my family's history and yours. My parents were together all through adolescence, but both went on to marry different people. Those marriages ended badly, but my dad also came out of it with a son. My parents got back together and it took awhile but we finally got custody of my older brother, Brandon. He started living with us permanently when I was in kindergarten, and even though it was that long ago, I still remember Brandon going through the same struggles Kyle did when he moved in with you and your mom.

Thanks for posting this, Ali :)

Amanda said...

Amazing post! I come from a ridiculously less that perfect family and feel like I am stronger and have more character and depth as a person because of each thing that happened.

You are brave and awesome for doing this post!