4 strong.

Since my parents divorced when I was a young teenager, we rarely had the whole family together…Until my daughter was born. Every year for her birthday everyone came together. Mom and her spouse and his family,  Dad and his spouse, my husband’s mom and her father, and my twin brother and his family. We always had two birthdays for her. The “family” party and then the “friend” party. Some years it was combined, friends and family. I always thought it was so cool to have everyone get along under one roof. Mom’s husband and my dad chatting. Dad’s wife and my mom chatting. Everyone coming together for my daughter. 

When she turned 16, my twin brother, who bought our lakehouse when my mom remarried, offered to have her party there. I still remember sittting back watching everyone. My brother taught her how to wakeboard. Everyone said how she was just like her mother, learning so quickly. My mother in law was there with her dad, grandpa John. My mom’s husband’s mother was even there. Everyone cheering for my daughter out behind the boat. I have a video that I discovered on the computer today. Everyone together by the water laughing and having fun. My daughter out on the water that I had grown up skiing on. My brother’s step sons encouraging my daughter. I saw how much everyone loved my little girl. They all really loved her. I watched the video a few times. Then I scrolled through each of her birthdays and looked at my entire family there. 


She has had two birthdays since the family decided to leave. My husband’s mom stayed…


We had large numbers before. Every year, tons of family for my daugher’s birthday party. We are down to 1 family member other than my husband and me.  So the table may only be set for 4 but it is 4 strong. My family left. Every single one of them left. This year my daughter turned 20. Instead of being sad that my family was gone, I felt blessed to have the 4 of us. True love stays. And if that means you are down to only a handful of people that are authentic, unconditional, and steadfast, then celebrate. 

My family weren’t thinking when they chose to leave me. They didn’t realize that leaving me, meant leaving my daughter too. My daughter that they loved far more than they ever loved me. That is until the one day they would have let her down too because their love fit into a mold. Had she married an African American man, or been gay, I’m sure she would have been kicked to the curb like me. One of my cousin’s choices was “too dark” so I already know how that would work out. Maybe my daughter was spared later hurt.  I can imagine they kick themselves for that oversight, not realizing they’d lose her by leaving me. Although I wish my daughter were surrounded by a huge family to love her, because she deserves that, she will be better off without a family loving her conditionally. And that is how my family loved…conditionally. 

I look at the pictures of that lake where I was molested my entire childhood. I look at the video of my family who left the moment I broke the silence of that abuse. They almost broke me. My daughter was in the hospital that weekend. They sent her flowers but no one came to see her. Their pride kept them away. I hurt for my daughter’s loss some days. But most days I celebrate what we have. You can grieve what you’ve lost but you have to balance that with celebrating what you have. 

We are currently 4 strong. My husband, his mom, my daughter and me. That video I watched of my daughter’s birthday haunted me a little today. To see those smiling faces and know the ugliness that they were capable of, the ugliness lying just beneath, is unsettling. It still blows my mind thinking that the family, my family, just left. I let them go, but watching the video just reminded me again of the strange world I had been living in before. A world where my daughter was most definitely loved, but for me, I don’t really know anymore. Real love doesnt leave. A mother’s love is not supposed to stop. 

So now, we are only 4, but we are strong in our bond.  It is something I celebrate and cherish. Birthdays are small now. But I know everyone sitting around my table is committed in unconditional love. What more could I ask for. 

13 thoughts on “4 strong.

  1. This really touched me. It’s sad while at the same time it’s good to see the truth once you’ve been brave enough to show your own authenticity.

    Sorry if this is a dumb question: Does your mother-in-law know about what happened to you?

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    • After sending this, I thought better and thought maybe ‘authenticity’ may not be the exact word I needed…not that you weren’t and aren’t authentic. But it’s more that you told the truth of what happened and they denied it. Sorry.

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    • No it isn’t a dumb question. My mother in law knows, yes. She was appalled at the reaction everyone gave. It was a shock when I finally came forward with everything and got anger, denial, blame, instead of understanding from the rest of them, aunts, cousins, uncles, my step father was the worst, but they all decided to just go and never speak to me again. My mother in law chose the opposite thankfully.

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      • It’s so disgusting how family can do that. I just don’t understand that mind set. You did nothing wrong. And they blame you! Like huh???

        Not asking for real. It’s true I don’t understand because I can’t see myself doing such a thing as turning on the victim. It’s just appalling for lack of a better word.

        It is good and a blessing that your mother in law has a heart and a good head on her shoulders and sees what’s up.

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      • I think they blame me so they dont have to blame themselves. They say that I ASKED to do all the activities so how was it THEIR fault I was abused kind of thing. I think they are more upset at the thought that I blame them, then they are in denial, then they cast me aside so they don’t have to deal with any of it. All I did was tell the truth of what happened to me. It was up to them to see the child that was victimized and hurt. Instead they internalized it and then banned me from the family. It was their choice. I may have asked to go to a ski school but it was their job as parents to make sure i was safe there. There is no “blame” their is accountability which none of them will ever have because it is easier to just keep the blinders on.

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      • Makes sense…in a non-sensical sad kinda way. I see no empathy here either.

        Seems easy to say, “Oh my gosh! Daugter, I am so sorry that happened. What can we do to make it up to you (or make it right)?”

        Another one to avoid accountability is, “Well we can’t change the past.”

        Well no, but you can be accountable and be empathetic. Validate the feelings that come from this and acknowledge the pain. And be sorry! Ugh.

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      • What I expected, all I ever was expected was, ” I am so sorry that happened to you.” THat was it. Too much to wish for. Which is why I had to just let them go and not wait and want and hope for them anymore. For me letting them go just meant knowing that there was no future with them.thanks for the understanding

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      • That would be really easy.
        I know what you mean about letting them go meant “…knowing that there was no future with them.”

        I come to that acceptance a little bit more every day pertaining to my family.

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  2. I have six kids so we always have big family parties, but I have always felt the lack of extended family for them. I know I am better off without them (the extended family), but I wish my kids had grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins… We make a close knit and friendly group, which we wouldn’t be if those people were part of the group. *sigh* So, yes, I am grateful for what we have, even while I mourn the lacks.

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