The world can be such a sad place, so full of disappointment. Not the world itself per se but the people who inhabit it: Folks whose hearts are cold and cruel and only self-serving. Individuals who, by rights and connections – none of their own making really but there you have it – should be the guardians and nurturers and caretakers of those closest to them but fail utterly in that regard. Relationships where love and gentle regard is sorely absent.

It’s sad to discover there are members of the human race who possess these traits of ugliness, brutality and disregard. When the knowledge that the world is filled with this caliber of humanity becomes apparent to us, it’s as devastating as when a young child first discerns there really is no Santa Claus, if the child was fortunate enough, that is, to have lived in a family where the perpetuation of this loving tradition was cultivated in the first place. To recognize that some children have never even had that… Well, that’s a sad realization in and of itself, is it not?

I won’t lie. I still struggle with resentments of my own. My father drank a lot and rarely put his wife’s and his children’s well being before his own. He was a good provider, however, and did love all of us, of that I am certain. Perhaps it was just the era but I don’t really fault him for this. I can’t explain why. So the duties of child-rearing fell to our mother and with a husband who drank and six girls under the age of ten to raise, I can only imagine how difficult it was for her.

I suppose, then, that I should be a bit more charitable and excuse her for her lack of affection, for her utter disinterest in nurturing us (maybe she just didn’t know how?). For failing to foster strong sisterly bonds (rather, she chose to exploit and corrupt them instead). For her, then and even now still, her only regard was and is herself. Her neediness seems to know no bounds. And, here I am sixty years old and it still rankles. Especially when she bemoans the fact that the six of us don’t get along well at times. In her mind, she apparently thinks she was a perfectly wonderful mother and does not believe there is any cause for her to feel regret or remorse. Oh yes, that rankles too.

Sigh. I know it could have been worse, glaringly, shockingly, horrifyingly worse. I get it. We weren’t abused – not physically, anyway – but still we’ve spent a lifetime of distrust. A lifetime that could have been spent as friends, we sisters, where we had each other’s back instead of using them as targets. We could have spent these years delighting in each other’s company rather than merely tolerating our sibling relationships. This small artifact of truth, that our mother does not recognize this consequence, this fall-out of her non-mothering, speaks volumes of her refusal to accept responsibility for her own actions – all the while she readily chomps at our own failings and misdeeds.

Yes. I need to move on. And quite often, I feel that I have. But every so often I’ll read or see or observe others’ realities, and the niceness of their relationships, and I’m hit on the head – soundly! – with what we were denied. It’s less – much less – than the brutality and depravity of much of what lies in the world, I know that. I do. But it doesn’t make it hurt any less, not for me, for my five sisters and me, that our childhoods, our family’s bones were so lacking in love, nurturance, warmth, safety and structure.

There is beauty and love and resilience and nurturing in the world, this I know too. I must strive to seek it on my own, and to find it within myself. The past is the past and while I know it will always serve up small reminders of what was (and what was not), I must actively choose to see it for what it was and nothing more. I’ll get there. I’ll be fine. Sometimes, a body just has to fess up and recognize those nagging voices from the past, deal with them, and push forward. Get right with one’s own soul and enjoy the sunshine of today.


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  1. Thanks for expressing your feelings so honestly, Julie. It sounds to me like you will not be repeating these behaviors with your children. The opportunity to learn from the Past is a prime benefit of recognizing and admitting it.

    Here’s to blue skies,

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