Monday, August 8, 2011

Undersharing and the Inability to Move On

Recently, I've read quite a few posts and ensuing discussions on how much we share on blogs and why. As much as it probably seems that I share quite a bit, I hold back most of what I want to share. Since this has become my only source of journaling and writing, that has not been the best decision ever. I don't share because many of you don't know me that well, or don't know this about me--we became friends thru Evan. I don't share because some of you know my sister. I don't share because I think my sister-in-law reads this blog sometimes. I don't share because I know some of you in "real" life. I don't share because my husband reads my blog. I don't share because my mind is a dark and scary place and I do everything in my power to escape it at all times. I don't share because I want friends and acceptance. I don't share because, as hard as it is to believe, I don't want to offend. I don't share because sometimes I don't want to talk about it, I just want to write it and pretend it doesn't exist. I don't share because people don't agree with me. I don't share because what could anyone say?

But something happened last night at 11:27 pm. I stumbled across my brother's status update on Facebook and his wife's comment.

Kelly: "incompatibility of temperament has caused the irremediable breakdown of our marriage" is a hard statement to sign your name to...especially when your 'pattern of behavior' is partly the military lifestyle.
Sarah: You have been very gracious, Kelly. I am so grateful that you can peacefully let me go and that we can keep our lines of communication open. I wish you well.

So after some Facebook stalking, the only interaction I have with 99% of my family, I realized that Kelly was getting a divorce from his wife of 4 years. While this is nothing new in our society and nothing new in my family, I have been devastated. Not because he is getting a divorce, which is terribly sad. I really liked the 1 hour I spent with his wife. But mostly because this is the death of my hope of ever seeing Kelly again. The last time I saw Kelly, I was 13. He came with the current caseworker to my boarding school for the closing ceremonies of the year. That was over 13 years ago. More time has passed since I last saw my brother than my whole life with him. There was a phone call when I was 15 where he told me that I would never change and that I would never succeed. I didn't deserve a chance or a family.

But Sarah, his wife. I met her just a few years ago, the Thanksgiving after Kyle was born. It was in a small diner by the airport on her layover to go see Kelly, who is in the air force and was in training. I missed an opportunity to see her again at Christmas while we were all in Portland, a decision purely made to keep peace in my family. I felt hope because she had hope. She wanted to know me. She wanted to know about our childhood. She held Kyle. I have a picture with her.

Now she'll go. He won't be any closer to talking to me. He friended me on Facebook, but he won't respond to comments or emails. He won't return my calls when I tell him about being pregnant with his nephews or when they are born. He doesn't respond to Christmas cards. It is almost torturous to feel close because I can hear his thoughts and view pictures on Facebook and yet, he's gone. There was no graduation announcement, no wedding invitation, all I know I have learned from Facebook. I don't exist.

I wish that it was just him that I don't exist for, but that is not the case. Kelly is Facebook friends with cousins that we've never been close to, he is friends with a brother who won't even friend me on Facebook. That brother, Cory, is also Facebook friends with cousins we have never been close to. I haven't seen Cory since I was 12, it was a birthday party for Heidi. There was a story in the newspaper when I was in high school about him and his high school crew team. There was gossip passed on from others, particularly my sister who spoke with his foster family. There have been two phone calls the last 10 years ago, where he said he doesn't think of me ever, I'm not his family, and he wants me to never contact him again.

I'm not supposed to speak of these things with my family. No one understands how I feel about these things. How I feel the same way I did when I was 3, 7, 15 (pretty much any age). When I was alone, scared, confused, and no one would talk to me truthfully. It is the same now, except that I am told, "We just need to move forward from here," or "What good will it do?" or "I don't remember." I can't, but instead I am locked in this limbo. The older I get, the more "normal" I look with kids and a husband. Living life. No one knows these things about me because no one knew me back when these things were obvious in my life--try to hide lesbian foster parents when all your friends are LDS or how you don't go home for Christmas in college.

For me the rejection and the hurt haven't diminished over time. Instead, I get better at hiding it. I get better at hiding in my "normal" LDS life. I slip into the mold. I work hard to please people so I can have friends. Every time my mother makes it clear that although she loves me there are more important people in her life and even the beach vacations are more important, I hide the feelings quickly away.

Last year, I met my uncle and his wife. I hadn't seen that uncle since I was 3 years old because of my parent's decisions. It had been 23 years. He told me that if he and his first wife had known what was happening in my family 23 yeas ago, he would have taken me and all my siblings. I would have had a family and known my siblings, and yet I have never uttered those words that he told me to anyone. I could have bypassed 33 foster homes, 2 group homes, and a boarding school. How do I even mourn what that knowledge does? Who would I discuss this with? I'm supposed to build my relationships with them from here. No one wants to discuss those possibilities with me and while it may be painful, I don't think moving on is always the answer.

So here we sit. Kelly is in Texas. I am in Utah. I can't comfort him. I can't offer my condolences. I can't invite him for dinner. I don't exist. I'm one of hundreds of friends that he has. I blend into the background. He'll will most likely never know my husband or children. We will never know each other as adults. That hurts.


Julie said...

Dear Holly, We need to get together soon.

Ami, Joel, and Dane said...

I've thought a lot about the level of sharing that goes on on blogs. I think it all depends on what you want the purpose of your blog to be.
I'm sorry you've had to carry such a burden alone for so long. It's hard when there are ways that sold wounds can be opened, even with minimal contact. I agree with you that you don't have to move on at this point. I think, to a lot of people, "let's move on" is just a way of saying "I don't want to deal with it." Let's talk more.

Karalene Ludlow said...

Holly ~

Reading your blog made my heart ache for you. Everyone deals with emotion in their own way, I am grateful for your strength to be able to write about your fears, disappointments and grief. It takes courage. Writing is theraputic in its own way, that sometimes talking isn't. Let's do that lunch I owe you soon friend. :)


Amy said...

I'm so sorry, Holly.n Wish I could give you a big hug right now.

Derek and Andrea said...

I'm glad you shared this! I've often wondered what has happened with the family that you and I stayed up late in the Xiyuan talking about! It shows something about your character that you continue trying to repair those relationships!

Merry said...

Holly, I am sorry you are going through this. That you have gone through this most of your life and that you are still going through it. I do have faith that people can change. I am sure that you have changed tremendously from the person that you were, and that you are not the person your brothers think you are. And I am sure that they CAN change their attitudes towards you. Unfortunately, that is in their hands, and in God's.

Having never been in this kind of situation, the only advice I can give you is to be kind to yourself. Don't take more blame than you deserve, and don't assign more blame than others' deserve. These are the things that you can control to make your life happier.

And keep blogging about it if you need someone to bounce "what ifs" off of! You won't scare me away!

Mallory said...

Family is one crazy crazy thing. I cannot possibly imagine what it was like to be you growing up. But I am amazed at the odds you came against and how you have become a beautiful, kind, caring mother and friend. Having my own random family issues I can say contact doesn't always help or feel voids, but I agree that moving on doesn't always work either. But I can say I love reading your blog and knowing what is going on in your life. Hugs!

Teresa said...

Holly, I am glad you chose to share this. I know some about the challenges you've had in your life but this helped me realize how little I really know. There is a fine line between being supportive and caring and being nosy and I think I err on the side of not asking because I don't want to be nosy. I think it's normal to have the feelings you have and mourn the way that you have (and still do). For what it's worth, I am super proud of you for who you are and the person you have become and I am sorry that your family doesn't want to get to know the Holly that we know.
You once commented on my blog that you like hearing about my kids, but you like it even more when I post what's really going on in my life or in my mind. I feel the same way and am glad you decided to share this.

Sarita said...

Thank you for sharing Holly. I knew you had some difficult family situations but I too am timid about maybe being nosy. I am constantly impressed with how you handle things and what a kind person you are. Keep sharing. I think we all need to do this. I find it cathartic as well as a service to others. We love you. I hope to see you soon at Angie's wedding. Hopefully we can talk then.