The family outsider

Recently (and by recently I mean in the last year or so… funny how ones idea of “recently” changes as you get more years under your belt), I got back in contact with my cousins from my dad’s side of the family.  It’s one of the gifts of the internet – Facebook and Ancestry.com, in particular – that it’s now so much easier to find and contact people these days.  Gifts and curses, I suppose if I were being truly honest about it.

I grew up as the only child of divorced parents.  My mother was an only child and my father, a raging alcoholic who was far out of the picture by the time I was a toddler, had one younger sister who had four daughters.  I knew of my aunt but only in a sort of mythic way.  She was someone who I didn’t know, and had no contact with but I kind of hoped she remembered, or at least, thought of me.  My cousins were completely unknown.  I knew their first names, but other than that, I was pretty oblivious to them and to our connection.

Recently, 40+ years after my parents divorce, I  have been in contact with a couple of my adult cousins through Facebook.  They are nice people and I’m glad I’ve met them, but in some ways, I feel like an outsider in my own family.  They have history that I’m not a part of.  They have pictures of the “cousins” with our shared grandmother that I’m not, and never was, included in.  I am grateful that I get to have a tiny piece of a family now, but in some ways, it’s a bit too little, too late.  I lived nearby. My mother had not moved so it’s not like no one knew where I was.  But I was never contacted or invited for family events when I was a child.

While I’m grateful to have a small piece of my ancestral picture, in some ways it’s more hurtful getting to see what I missed out on.  Before I was reconnected with family I had accepted that I was a one person family reunion every day.  My family was gone and I had grown some scabs over the wounds that grief creates.  But for some reason now, I find myself pining for a family I never actually had.  A family with a grandmother who was accepting and kind, and not judgmental and cruel – as I remember our shared matriarch.

Maybe one day I can look at the pictures of my family and not think “why wasn’t I included in that?”.  But that day isn’t today, and for today I’m still sad that once again I am an outsider.

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3 thoughts on “The family outsider

  1. Dot says:

    Dear cousin – Ahhh the knife of FB posts of smiling faces. Know that I actually grew up wanting much the same as you describe. My parents were divorced after years of unhappiness that splattered over us girls leaving scars exposed as adults. ( ACA: Adult Children of Alcoholics has been recommended to me) I grew up wishing that I too could have the mythical family of two parents who loved each other and who loved their children. Fairy tale dreams that I could not provide for my own children. Sorry to cause you pain. We are related by genetics of shared blood and tears, and, found love in those we choose to hold close. Do not loose heart because of pictured “happiness”. Embrace the now ♡

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Josephine says:

    My mom was adopted and although her parents and sisters and brothers accepted her as an equal, the aunts and uncles treated her as a lesser human being and did the same to my sisters and I. We just didn’t exist to them. My grandparents on my fathers side didn’t accept my mom because she was adopted so they also ignored her and us. My mom did have a good laugh though when I, her first child, was born. She picked the name Denise, my crappy grandmother thought I would be named after her, Maria. So my mom ditched Denise and named me Josephine, after her loving adopted mother. Boom! I love my name and I have my mom’s sense of humor.
    So while our experiences were different I know that feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

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