As you all know my niece and I had words over the holiday. Mostly out of her disrespect for my oldest sister – aka her Aunt – hey! Nobody else was going to speak up – I merely told her how I felt; but who would have known such a split would have happened in our family?
I want her to know that I will always be here for her. However, I’m fearful for the path she is choosing to go down as I chose this exact path when I was her age. So strange how it is that someone who didn’t come out of my womb could be so much like me. I want so much to shout it at her, to shake her, but all I can do is allow her to live her life and hope that she has chosen wisely and will continue to do so.
And, make no mistakes about this one, she hates me now – though I’m sure it will pass. She does not like being made to face facts and will do what she has always done that has worked thus far and that is to lash out at those who love her most. What was it I said before? Being a parent means doing the ‘tough’ stuff and allowing yourself to be hated, despised or worse. I guess I will need to just allow this the time it needs and hope.
Bottom line is that I would much rather be despised for speaking my mind – true and heartfelt – than to be accepted for lies. If she is to love us she will need to love us – true and heartfelt. For that is how I/we love her.
Does being a ‘family’ mean not saying or speaking up when you feel you have been wronged? Are you to just brush everything under the rug and slither out the door without even giving those you are angry at their ‘time in court’? I don’t think so. Family to me means that we discuss openly what needs to be discussed and that ALL are heard. My niece, her father and mother did nothing to give us our ‘day in court’.
The choices of my niece brings back some really bad memories for this writer. Memories of a young girl who wanted nothing better than to be seen for herself – to be seen for the image in the mirror that she so wanted to catch up to. She, only nineteen, a college student at the local Jr. College. Her roommate, twenty-two and also a classmate, who was working as a cocktail waitress and called one night, “you have to come down”, she had gotten to know the lead singer in the band and thought that this guy would be perfect for her best friend. “C’mon, get yourself dressed and get down here, I’ll make sure you get in the door.” “But I’m not ready, far from, just got in from work” she replied. “Get down here, there is this dream of a guy and I KNOW he is for you. If not, at least you’ll have a blast. C’mon…”, her roommate insisted. She thought about it, and replied “ok, I”ll be there in twenty.”
She got there, the band was playing; she checked out the place, spotted her friend. Then she spotted the band; the lead singer was tall, lanky, dark and handsome. ‘Her friend was certainly right about one thing, he was handsome; but couldn’t be interested in me’, she thought. “Hi!” Her roommate said, getting her by the bouncer.
Well, here she was in the club. She ordered a Gin and Tonic (G&T) – Tall – seemed like a ‘grown-up’ drink, aside from the usual beer. Her friend introduced them, they danced once, then she danced with others. Later, it was closing time and Tony – that was his name – came to talk with her. She was in a state of disbelief and almost didn’t want to get her hopes up too much. So many things went through her mind. They sat and talked at the table way after closing time – this was the benefit of being with the ‘in crowd’.
Later, there would be many more trips to the club, he would sing to her, sit with her, she gave him her number; they went on motorcycle rides/picnics/outings. He would come by the apartment and often; she was falling and hard. For it only took one look, one word over the phone and her heart would jump.
One day, as she and her roommate were sitting in their kitchen getting ready for work, there was a knock on the door, it was Tony who just came by to chat. He sat down as they both continued putting on their make-up. He started talking and joking, talking about his day and the upcoming weekend. Then as he talked, he said something to the effect of “oh, my wife and I…blah, blah blah blah blah…” just like that. He mentioned her in mid-sentence. As if it were something that was to be known.
Her heart sank right to her stomach, she was silent. Neither of them knew what to do. She’d never had this sort of thing happen to her; how could she? She was only nineteen. To look at her one would think a drill was going off inside her body drilling through each organ one at a time. After he left, she cried like she never cried – or so it seemed.
I would LOVE to be able to say that I stopped this relationship, I would love to, but I didn’t. I believed the lies. I wanted the ‘fairy tale’. We went on like this for about four months – maybe six. I did end up moving on after catching him with another woman, buck naked in the back of his van – that’s right folks, once a cheater… isn’t that how the saying goes?
Since those days I have heard that he, unfortunately – and I do mean this truly – ended up in a horrible motorcycle accident making him mentally disabled. I’ve grown beyond those days and have forgiven him, however I’m not sure I will ever be able to forgive myself.
This is the path that I hope to save my niece from. Because, though it’s not an excuse it was my reality, I was looking for love from a man. Losing my father at such an early age did take its toll. And with my niece, her father too – though physically available at time – was unavailable emotionally. But you don’t find love from an outside source through a mate. The only way to find it is to find it within, through empowerment. And you find that empowerment within yourself. Because Dear-one’s you can only love those as much as you love yourself.