Sometimes You Have To Leave
I find myself re-writing this inspired post for the third time. Having recently finished The Mill River Redemption and getting wrapped up in the theme of family, I started to write about large families and sibling rivalry. Then moved to my own two children and their differences, only to come back around to find a balance of both.
As a parent, I’m guiding my children to understand the one thing about family that I struggled with well into adulthood — family is family, and will always be there, no matter what.
During my pre-teen and teen years, I struggled with being the youngest child of a large extended family. Having siblings that were much older, I became the instant baby-sitter; helped raised nephews and nieces, and became angry I didn’t get to experience being a “teen” like my siblings had.
As the last child at home, I helped my mom get through my dad’s death, dealt with her stays at the local hospital’s psychiatric ward, and experienced first hand the embarrassment a child goes through when kids find out at school that your mom tried to commit suicide not once, but twice.
I became angry. Very angry. And I was done with my family.
Already more of an adult than most of the adults in my family, I enlisted in the military at 18 and left home. I believe this one decision saved me.
During my first year away from home, I returned sporadically. Only staying long enough to basically wave hi to family and return to base. As the years went on, my life moved on, as well. I got married, decided to leave the military, and the trips home became less and less. The next time that I truly returned home too many years had passed, my sister was getting married, and I had two kids in tow. Four years later, I made my final trip home to say goodbye to my mom.
No, I didn’t go home often enough, but I didn’t hate myself for it, and neither did my family.
In the many years that spanned being gone, I became a daughter that could have a conversation with her mom and it end on a happy note. I was able to reminisce with my sisters and not be bitter. I found a happiness as an adult that I could never find as a teen.
I realize now, although it was never said, I had the support of my family even if we may have hurt a bit along the way. Family is family through the ups and downs, but I am a better person because of my them.