Here is a thought that I had: The blogs that I most enjoy reading are the ones in which the writer opens up a little, shares enough personal information to be interesting, and is candid about things. So – deep breath – here is some information that is personal, hopefully interesting, and feels candid.
Last month, my parents separated.
This is not a place for me to talk about what happened for them or their reasons or what is happening now between them or even between each of them and me. But this is a place, I think, for me to say that this is something that is happening, and that it is hard.
My senior year of college, I lived with my roommate from freshman year (she’s now in Africa and is bringing me a lion cub as a wedding present, of course) and two friends who had been in a long-distance relationship for two years and were now moving in together – with us. This was a huge adjustment for all of us. Their relationship had its ups and downs and its occasionally audible sex (sorry!), and it was the first relationship that I saw from this perspective besides my parents. It’s not often that you get to see couples in their nice clothes and their pajamas, at their good points and bad points and boring old “you clean up dinner while I do my homework” points.
There are some “do”s and “don’t”s that you take from different relationships that you see, and I took a lot of “don’t”s from that one, and a “do” or two. One thing that’s really hard right now is that I took from my parents’ relationship pretty much all “do”s and only one or two “don’t”s. Their relationship has been one I admired and even, to some extent, idolized.
When my parents stopped living together, my sister called me* and said, “Remember that episode of Boy Meets World, when Topanga’s (omg, remember Topanga??) parents come to visit her at college and tell her they’re getting a divorce and then she calls off the engagement with Cory and leaves for awhile? I never understood that. But now I do.”
And I do, too, though please don’t think that that is what is going to happen. But I get that the relationship between her parents was one that probably many of her other relationships were based on in some way, and that now it has ended, and she had no control and no say and no way to know what really happened and ensure that whatever it was wasn’t going to happen in her relationship. Of course she had to take a break.
I’ve pretty much reverted to being sixteen years old, all the time. Angsty teenage Bird, here I am. I am getting mad because Turtle didn’t make dinner, or because she made the wrong thing for dinner, or because she did make dinner, or because she did or didn’t walk the dog or did or didn’t call me. She pretty much can’t do anything right by me right now. And despite my fairly constant frustration and snippyness, she is still here. She is still making dinner and walking the dog – or not – and she is doing a damn good job walking away from me when I am trying to engage her in some argument over something completely, absolutely not worth arguing about. She is keeping our sanity in this move, and she is making sure that I am okay all the time. Even when I’m being a big old jerk. She is even helping me carry my crazy heavy kayak all the way down our road to the water and then hanging out with our poorly behaved dog for half an hour so I can paddle around before she helps me carry it home.
I don’t think I will ever know exactly what is happening between my parents, because how can anyone know the intimacy and intricacies of someone else’s relationship? It has certainly been here for my whole life, but I have definitely not been here for its whole life.
What I’m trying to focus on are the things I do know are issues, and how they might affect me, and if I might have similar habits or tendencies, and how to avoid or deal with those things before they become problems in my relationship. I am trying to talk to Turtle about what is happening and how she feels about it, when I’m feeling like I’m at least a little older than 16. And I am trusting that if we can get through all of this together, we are starting things the right way.
Words of advice, blogland?
*Having a sister is absolutely amazing when hard family things happen. Thanks, sister.