Tuesday, September 18, 2012

24/30: Family Dynamics

24. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.
When I was very little, my parents were happy. We were that perfect nuclear family. Mom, dad, two kids, two (and then three) cats. We lived right above my Gramma and my Gumpy and I still remember staying over there at night. Feeding the fish and drawing on butcher paper with Gramma, playing dots with Gumpy after he rubbed his stubbly face against me making me squeal. My brother is four years my junior and that means we didn't really play together much but that I was pretty good at convincing him to let me be the boss. I was a very bossy child. When I was 7, we moved to a new house. About a year later, I remember my parents fighting. I think I just sort of blocked out any fights they had before that or they were better at hiding it from me before. It got to the point that, precocious 8 year old that I was, I told my parents to just get it over with and get divorced. Now, I can't imagine how much it must have hurt them to hear that come from their firstborn's mouth. My brother and I also started to fight as we got older and he was less a ball of baby fat for me to boss around and more of a boy with his own ideas. My parents had this idea that if they bought him Ken dolls and me Barbie's then I would have to play with him. Nope. I just asked him if I could use them. They underestimated me I think with that one.
After a brief period when my dad moved out, Mom found out she was pregnant and Dad moved back in. When Mom lost the baby, well he couldn't exactly just move out again. The fighting got worse and we lost the house. When we moved to our new town, the fighting between my parents continued to suuuuck and I turned into a bratty pre-teen compounded by the difficulties I was having adjusting. Finally, my parents did divorce but I just got even more hostile. My brother and I were fighting physically and verbally nearly every day. I started fighting with my mom as she dealt with the divorce on her own and I suddenly didn't have the stability I was used to. I thought I'd be happier with my parents divorced but it didn't stop the fighting at first and it just took away the foundation I had before that. When Mom got pregnant with Samantha, I think it re-kicked on her maternal instincts. She couldn't cope with her issues only; she also had to be a mom. And she and I became closer. We were (and still are) more like friends than like a mother/daughter. Now that system works just fine for me. Then, I needed a mom a bit more than I needed another friend. My dad and I, however, fought like mad until I went to college. Even then, on my breaks, we'd fight after a few days. We're just too much alike in some ways. And it's so easy to fall into old habits.
Shortly before I graduated high school, I began my relationship with Ron. No, he's no longer family but my relationship with him really impacted my relationship with my family and not for the better. As I fell head over heels, at first my parents were both very supportive. He treated me wonderfully, we were in love, and he made me happy. Then Ron started to change (and so did I). We weren't the same people. We weren't in love anymore, or at least not as much. He wasn't treating me properly anymore and I wasn't treating him properly either. My dad tried to point this out to me but love is blind, as they say. I refused to listen. It just drove a rift between my dad and I. Plus my dad's attitude towards Ron separated them and made it uncomfortable for Ron and I to be at my house which in turn drove Ron and I farther apart.
When Ron and I split last year, my dad was more supportive than I had imagined. I still haven't heard "I told you so". My dad's love for me in that situation became more apparent than the last few years. His concern over my relationship had seemed like trying to control me and not trying to do what was best for me. His support after the break-up turned that around and I realized that he (and everyone else) had seen in Ron something I hadn't let myself see. In the months between my break-up and my departure to Europe, my dad and I actually managed to have several normal conversations. I've talked to him several times since I've been here and have been realizing (as evidenced by my entries) just what a role he's played in my life.
My mom and I have maintained the friend relationship we developed when I was a teenager. We can talk about absolutely anything and I talk to her most days via text on my iPod. My little sister is basically my whole world and she knows it. She can be a complete brat some days and oh goodness if I hear her whining... but I love her and I'd do anything for her.
During college, my dad moved in with his girlfriend and I've now got two more stepsiblings and a stepmom as well. When there's no alcohol involved, we get along great. Maggie and Charlie are great people and I do enjoy hanging out with them. I don't always agree with the way Charlie behaves or the priorities Maggie sets but the "step" in "stepsiblings" might as well not be there. Charlie is my brother and Maggie is my sister. My little brother, Joey, and I basically don't talk at this point. He's said some very hurtful things to me over the years and we are far too different people. When we're in the same room, we'll talk if he's not in one of those moods but we don't get along or hang out.


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