As a child, I was broken. Lost was my innocence of self worth. My parents, and I use that term loosely, were children themselves who forced me to be the adult in the equation of our family dynamics. My fondest memories were those of when I was alone because in those moments I was safe from emotional and physical abuse, and able to be carefree in the precious glimpses of what a typical childhood could be. Glimpses into laughter, into discovery, into a world filled with imagination and curiosity versus the world of hell I would be spiraled into the moment by feet would enter our front door.
I look at my son who is now on the eve of his eighth birthday this summer. I see him making memories of such priceless monumental value. He’s a star baseball player, who is popular amongst his friends. He loves to make people laugh and is intrigued with curiosity and questions. His eyes shine with the joy that is around him and I know beyond a doubt he feels the love that engulfs him from his home, from his parents.
I remember myself at his age and the remembrance places sadness around my heart. At his age I did not play sports, I did not have many friends. I was quiet and reserved, which was a defensive mechanism I had to quickly develop in order to deal with my chaos on the home front. I now know that this critical mechanism was adapted to keep myself quite, because in my quietness I had a better chance of survival from the wrath of my father and the detrimental words of my mother. I had to be the sole caretaker to my sister; I learned how to cook a family meal, how to clean a house and do laundry, how to budget if there wasn’t enough money to pay for the groceries in our cart, how to make sure dad’s beer was cold when he got home, and how to clean up my mother and I’s blood and heartache with a little bleach and some elbow grease.
Two children, the same age, decades a part, lead some different lives. And why?
Because one child had a set of parents who loathed their lives and their children paid the price, while the other child had a set of parents whose heart grew bigger with every echo of their son and daughter’s laughter. With every accomplishment they rejoiced. With every failure they helped them back up. With every heartache they were not the cause, but the cure of comfort.
I do not and don’t think I ever will understand the roots of my childhood and why my parents and my sister have chosen a life that involves such hatred towards me. Is it because I got out? Is it because I did not let the moments of my adolescence break me? Or make me cold and bitter? I have no answers; I am not them and will never pretend to know the suffering and excuses that plague their mind. For individuals such as themselves they drain those who desperately want to love them of their time, their money, their energy and worse – their emotions. Civilized conversations within these people are something of a mystery as their tongue is quick with anger and insults.
It is said that God protects babies and fools – well, a fool I am indeed. A fool to believe that someday I would know what it’s like to erase the memories of yesterday and be able to forgive the hurt that came along with the age of eight. Sometimes I want to shake them and say “Instead of being a jerk, instead of being jealous that I got out why don’t you walk a step in my shoes. For the world is such a beautiful and wondrous place, one of love and amazement instead of bitterness and resentment … if you stop for a moment and truly experience the wonder of family. Of life. Of love.”
Sadly some will never see the error of their ways. The hatred that we want to forgive they hold on tight like a baby to their blanket. Blinded by their incapability of owning who they have been, and who they have hurt in their selfish desires. Stuck in their own pity and disgust, their own self loathing that they are incapable of admitting to. The world is to blame for their despair! For their lack of attainment! For their missing piece of true inner peace. Ownership folks has no value for individuals such as these, and you want to pray for them – you do – but I will be the first to admit that prayer for those who hate you has to be some of the hardest mediation with God you will ever encountered.
But … it’s also the most liberating.
I made a choice long ago to never let those I love, and those who allow me to love them, ever feel like they don’t matter. I made a choice to make peace with my past and celebrate today. All that I have been given is a product of where I came from and I will make no apology for that, I will hold no resentment. As I listen to the world around me, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the pollen is driving my head to want to explode and all I can think about is Spring. It’s here. It’s beautiful. It’s a reminder that we are all capable and have a chance to come out of the darkness of winter, of the darkness that will always move into our lives. The beginning of Spring is more that the blooming of the earth, it’s the rebirth of one’s self. You cannot change those around you, or the circumstances beyond your control, but you most certainly have the power and strength to change yourself.
Be still and take in the beauty of your past. For that beauty is what lights your tomorrow; what has broken and healed your heart, given you the strength to forgive, and the power to move forward with every change of season, with every wind of change in life.