Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Skeletal Fingers

It is the classic coming of age motif, that moment when you finally see your family as a looming wardrobe with the spidery, skeletal hands of your relatives’ past wriggling the door open, scaring you witless. In my arrogance and anger when I got home, I ripped that door open and looked straight into the empty eye sockets of the hatreds and loves that drive the adults in my family. There are truly impressive currents that run below the smooth waters of anyone’s life, currents set by grandparents, swum against by parents and now reaching my cousins and I as we finally see that our ups and downs are not entirely our own, but amplified by the ripples from cruel rocks thrown many generations before.

My uncles and aunts now talk to me as a fully-fledged adult, and the more they reveal about my parents and my two families (long intertwined before my parents met and married), the more I see myself as if in one of those carnival mirrors, endlessly repeated in the same form, but in different degrees of separation from the original. As each past and personality takes shape for me, I see that each one of my faults run in the grooves etched into my makeup by genetics and influence. As this new knowledge of the adults in my life washes over me with it’s residue of sadness and pain, I see my mother and my grandmothers before me, with their lives in these two families lining their face, and I know I must leave again soon. I love them with the fierceness of blood and obligation, but I cannot allow myself to be sucked into that vicious cycle of silence and grudges, I cannot allow those already disturbingly deep grooves to become the tracks of my life.

Before I go though, there are some vitally important channels of communication that must be opened so that the cycle of looking respectable, but being anything but respectable can be broken. There is an urgent need for the truth and a bone-deep care for parents or siblings to become the currency of my family, not denial and self preservation. There is no better way to rebuild than from the violently scattered rubble of a destructive year, and in the last four months the six of us have each been reduced, in some part of our lives, to piles of emotional rubble. I am hoping that in the rebuilding, more open values will become the foundation of our adult relationships.

Originally posted on Exiled Britophile, a blog I updated for about twelve months when I returned home from London. Due to it's frank discussion of how horrid I found Perth, these pieces had only been read by my London readers until 2011.

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