Sunday, December 16, 2007

Feelings that I didn't understand

When I was 11 years old I was ripped away from my 3 year old brother’s arms and sent off to live with a new family along with my older brother. My father had given us instructions to go to a certain corner and wait for a man that we didn’t know to stop and pick us up. This all happened very suddenly and without warning.

The new family that we went off to live with was a very nice family, although it seemed like a very large one to me. Up to the age of 8, I had been an only child and then my grandmother died and I went to live with my dad and his new wife and son, who I had thought was my cousin, but in reality had been my full brother all along. He had lived his life with my other set of grandparents. Soon after I had moved in with my dad, brother & new wife, my baby brother was born. Now, after that bit of history we can return back to age 11 and my new large family.

Our new family had three boys and a girl in ages similar to ours. My new step-mom’s oldest son was the same age as my older brother and my new stepsister was my age…the remaining two boys were one & two years younger than myself. Although it was nice having a sister, I was very unhappy about not being able to be with my baby brother, and I took every opportunity to sneak back home that I found. I always managed to make the round trip without being detected…at least I thought I did. It was an all day trip and usually occurred on Saturdays when both my dad & my step-mom were at work. I’d hop on my bicycle and away I’d go to see my baby brother and my now ex-stepmother. After we moved to a much larger home that would accommodate all six children, my baby brother was allowed to come visit, but he only came about two times and then the visitation ceased because my older brother’s put him on their little motorized scooter and took him for a ride in the yard. Again sadness filled my heart.

Being a sad child, I depended on my older brother for love and attention. My dad was all consumed with the new love in his life and all I had was my brother. I didn’t understand why my brother had suddenly changed and wasn’t there for me. He had always looked out for me, but now he abandoned me. He was 14 years old and wanted to have nothing to do with me anymore. He discouraged me from tagging along and I just didn’t understand what was going on all of a sudden. His attentions were all fixated on my new step-sister. She was suddenly getting his quarters & candy which he used to share with me. This caused me so much hurt that I ran away repeatedly…but I had no place to go. We had moved farther away from my baby brother that it was almost impossible to get there by bicycle in a day, and I was always found before I could get very far.

I managed to grow up, but for the first 10 years of my marriage I waited for my husband to leave me, just as everyone I ever cared about had done in the past, starting with my mother when I was 10 months old. I had never had any adult stay in my life for any length of time and learned not to care enough about anyone so that they couldn’t hurt me by leaving. If I felt myself caring too much, I would pull back. It must have been a roller coaster ride for my husband, but he stayed. My children were different and had ALL of my love from the beginning, with nothing held back, and after the initial 10 years and coming to grip with my emotions, my husband did too.

I’m very thankful that I was able to understand my emotions early before it ruined my marriage, and that I didn’t let them consume me in a negative sort of way. I now understand why people did what they did at the time and my response to it. I also understand the importance of talking with your children and explaining certain things to them even if you think they’re too young to understand, you’d be surprised. And please answer their questions…I asked many questions early in my childhood, but the subject was always changed and I soon learned not to ask about certain things because I wasn’t going to get an answer. Don’t do this to your children…answer everything they ask you as honestly and as truthfully as you can.

Why am I thinking about these things today and feeling melancholy? After reading my brother’s blog this morning, I started thinking about the time he had hurt my feelings by turning his back on me when I was so vulnerable…I didn’t understand. Of course he didn’t mean to hurt my feelings and probably wasn’t even aware of what was happening either. We were both thrust into a new environment with a brand new family and we coped the best way we knew how. The new family turned out to be wonderful, even their dad who would include my brother and I when he would come to take his children for the day, for an outing of horse back riding or going to the park. I loved all of my step-brothers & sister, and still do, and think of them often and of all the fun things that we did together. We were six brothers and sisters, even if it was just for a little while. And the strange man who picked up my brother & I, on the appointed street corner that day, was none other than their dad. I told you he was nice.


Peter said...

That was a touching post Sandy, glad you got your thinking sorted out... it must have been difficult.

Rachel said...

I so enjoyed reading this Sandy. It must have been very hard. I've always been so thankful that I had two loving parents. You did well by overcoming all this, and you are blessed with lovely children and grandchildren, and Jimmy too!!

Kerri said...

Thanks for sharing that bit of history with us Sandy. You sure had some hurdles to leap over. It says a great deal for your strength of character that you grew up with so much love in your heart and such a sweet nature. It takes a lot of courage to go through what you did and come out on top. Good for you!

Alipurr said...

i am glad you and dad share these memories with helps me understand my family better....i feel that the more i can see someone else's point of view, the easier it will be for me to love them and relate to them....i can't imagine what you and dad went through, and must still go through, not knowing about your mom, my grandmother i never met and miss anyway