Family

My family means everything to me. My family means not much to me anymore. And yet they mean everything to me. I love them and I hate them. But I love them more. Without them I’d not know what to do. But sometimes I don’t know what to do with them either.

Can you tell that family is a complicated matter for me?

Part of it is that my family history is really messed up. I was born to a mother who was too young and too troubled to want me or know what to do with me. On some days I hate her for preferring booze over me any time. On other days I miss her. Terribly. Or what she could have been. I guess that is what I miss the most.

I don’t know my father. At least not my biological father. My mother got married to a way older guy just before she had me, and he was not a good person. He was abusive and hurt her and hurt me, but she was addicted to him. The worst times at home were when he was out of town on jobs, when all my mother would do was clean the house, drink and find fault with me so she could lash out. Once he got home again my mother was a lot better. Despite his violent nature, she felt safe with him, I think. It sounds a bit weird but I am really nobody to comment on other people’s weirdness. Not even my mother’s. Which does not keep me from doing so when I’m angry, of course.

Anyway, I don’t have any siblings, so whatever they did they focused on me. My mother with blaming me and my step-father with abusing me. I have no recollection of a time when I was not in some way involved in sexual stuff with him, so I figure it must have started really early. The sexual abuse was also the reason why I got taken away from my family by child protective services just after I turned fifteen. I have no idea who instigated it and what exact reason for, but one day I went to school and never returned back home. Just like that.

My mother surrendered her custody rights thereafter. From one moment to the next I had gone from being part of a family, no matter how dysfunctional, to being nobody’s business anymore. Okay, the state’s business, but that doesn’t count, because the state is not a person.

Long story short, I spent the following years in and out of children’s homes, psychiatric hospitals and several government run group homes. Sometimes I shacked up with acquaintances. I was using and did a lot of shit to get by somehow. On my way I gathered more psychiatric diagnoses than I can remember. Maybe I should have made notes.

My life turned around when a social worker was looking for volunteers for a pilot study on family care for the psychiatric population. Having nothing to lose, I volunteered and was partnered with a family who took part in the project.

Another long story short, what was just another family became my family. They are good people and while crazy in their own ways, they are – on the whole – pretty functional. Life with them was a whole other challenge at first, but we grew together and somehow I ended up loving them. I became theirs and they mine. Needing people to belong to, a family, really knows no age limit.

Maybe one reason why they can bear with me is that my mom is a psychiatrist. She used to work with people like me and she’s able to understand my struggles. She’s willing to struggle along with me, even. Small miracle, but on most days I can actually believe that she’s being genuine and not just faking it for some weird reason. Anyway, she and dad have three grown kids, kind of my siblings now, two sisters and a brother. They’re all doing pretty awesome themselves, away from home at university.

So they are my family now. They adopted me. We share a last name now. I am theirs and they mine, but at the same time I am still my first mother’s daughter – even when she did not want me anymore.

As a result I feel like family is one of the more challenging things in my life. I’m like the odd puzzle piece that happens to fit reasonably well with a different puzzle than it originally belonged to. But I am also still tied to my first family and the long time I spent on my own, all of that being my emotional luggage that I trail behind like a bag of stones. So whenever I think family, my thinking is very conflicted.

My family now is what keeps me going, what gives me hope and helps me recover and thrive. But my family now is also what reminds me of my family past and what triggers me into hate and anger and despair at times. I love them and hate them and love them at the same time and hope that they can continue to take it. Even when I push them away.

They are the most precious thing in my life. I’m thankful that I found them. I wish everyone that they find their family, too, no matter how old they are. Everyone needs a family. Just remember that they are not always the people you grew up with.

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Meagan
    Oct 17, 2012 @ 17:52:54

    Wow, that’s awesome that you are so close to your family. Good for you. I wish I had that support.

    Reply

    • Lola
      Oct 17, 2012 @ 18:07:12

      Thank you, Meagan! I’m lucky to have found my family after spending 23 years more or less on my own. While having a family is not always easy either, support and knowing someone cares makes a big difference. I wish with all my heart that everyone would get the support they need. All the best to you!

      Reply

  2. ninalinzi
    Nov 02, 2012 @ 15:35:35

    You are indeed, a strong woman. Just keep writing, keep drawing, keep reaching out. And be gentle. Awareness and Acceptance are key. Love and light.

    Reply

  3. Trackback: An Open Letter to My Birth Mother « Who needs normal?!
  4. Soul Survivor
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 01:00:26

    You are amazing. I ran away from my birth home when I was 16, and now at age 59 have gone back to take care of my elderly parents, who yes provided the egg and the sperm, but that was about all. I’m so happy that you are with parents that want you. I don’t know, because I never had it, but I imagine that it would help so much in the healing process. I wish you all the best!

    Reply

    • Lola
      Jan 04, 2013 @ 12:54:01

      Thank you, Soul Survivor. 🙂 Wow, taking care of your elderly parents who you once ran away from, that must be quite hard at times. I don’t think I would ever be able to take care of my birth mother, not even if she was just an old frail lady. She’d probably still creep me out and give me serious issues. So kudos to you. That’s quite a thing to be able to do. And yeah, finding parents who really want me and who behave like parents should has made a big difference for me. I really wish everyone found a good family like that. And I wish you all the best also. 🙂

      Reply

  5. daylily2011
    Jan 05, 2013 @ 13:15:53

    What a hard life and yet a wonderful life. I wish I could hug your mother and tell her she is amazing. She is helping you in all the right ways grow into a beautiful intelligent person. Oh, and your recent post that describes you snuggling on her lap — what a touching image, even as a full grown woman. When I was going through trauma and recovery in my 20’s I would have died to be able to climb on my mother’s lap and have her sooth me. I can’t think of a better word except your blog touches me on a deep emotional level.

    Reply

    • Lola
      Jan 05, 2013 @ 17:12:23

      That’s such a nice thing to say, Daylily, thank you! I’m really glad that I have my mom, she is the most important person in my life. I really wish everyone had someone like her in their lives, because it makes such a big difference for me. And I’m very touched that my blog touches you. Thank you very much. Also for saying that you wished you would have able to climb on your mother’s lap and have her soothe you. Ever so often I struggle with feeling like I’m such a big baby, so hearing someone else would have wished for the same thing is nice and helps.

      Reply

  6. Naheed
    May 30, 2013 @ 22:56:06

    I like your blog, you are a very strong woman and I really feel for you, I am pleased that you found safety with your present family, it’s a relief to know that there is actually a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to try hard to find it, your a fighter and pleaase stay strong and focus on yourself, your happiness,your desires, a career and a future and I hope that one day soon you can trust someone to be close enough to you and let go of the trauma you suffered as a child, there will always be someone out there that you will need your help, you be that better person, chin up girl, I’m proud of you, I’m a mother of an 18 month old baby, I luv her to bits, I just came across your blog, I hope and pray to god no child suffers any form of abuse, it’s so wrong, what goes around comes around, I wish you happiness, success, a great future and I am here to listen and help anyone who needs to talk.

    Reply

  7. Andy
    Jul 15, 2013 @ 01:11:05

    Wow.

    I have had a lot of the same struggles. I have spent a lot of time alone. It’s fantastic that there is something to hope for.

    Reply

    • Lola
      Jul 31, 2013 @ 07:37:25

      Hi Andy, I’m sorry you had a lot of the same struggles. Life has showed me that there’s always something to hope for, though, especially if you’re willing to work for it, too. All the best to you. xx

      Reply

  8. Linda
    Dec 22, 2013 @ 02:05:23

    Lola, your blog is a minefield and a treasure trove at the same time. You are bright, funny, intense, smart, resilient, insightful, and complicated. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your gifts.

    You are young but you have more varied experience than most people. You have been through many things nobody should have to experience. At the same time with all of your riches, it’s impossible to pity you. You go, girl. God bless you. Merry Christmas! Linda

    Reply

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