Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies who will dazzle you with insight on various topics. After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:
Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.
Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.
Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World
For this week, Denise chose: Is it ever better to not know the truth? If so, give an example.
The first memory that comes to mind for me, was when I witnessed the crumbling and destruction of my parent’s marriage. I had thought to be silly, and hide behind our full length curtains. I’m sure if Mom and Dad had looked hard enough, they’d witness tiny toes peeking out from cream-colored polyester. They didn’t know, though. They were wrapped up in the anger and resentment that had been brewing for a long time. The truth displayed itself many times late in the night, in the form of arguments and tears. Even at my young age, I knew that this argument was the last straw. There was a finality about it, when my mom broke out into a full cry, and my dad shook a fist in the air, telling her he was done and couldn’t take it anymore. He walked out the door, and I didn’t see him again for a very long time, and when I did, it was in tiny increments. A day here. A weekend there. Never consistent, with months (it felt like years) in between.
When you’re six, you don’t understand the nooks and crannies that go into a relationship, or why one fails. Mom had told me that Dad abandoned us, and didn’t want to see me, or my sister, who was only 3 at the time. I felt burdened, and alone. Unwanted. When Dad would visit, I tried so hard to get him to stay. I just wanted him to hug me as much as he’d allow, and to never go away again. Only, he always did, and for longer periods of time. Mom said that she’d always try to get him to visit, but he always had an excuse. He’d never commit.
This went on for over four years. When friends would ask about my father , I’d tell them he had died. It was easier to lie, than to tell the truth.
Shortly after my 10th birthday, Mom lost custody of my sister and I. By this time, our brother was added to the mix (a last-ditch effort from my parents), but my brother had Autism, and the court system determined it unwise for my brother to be re-located due to his mental health. He’d remain with our mother. No one seemed to care about my mental health, or that of my sister’s. Mom helped us pack paper grocery bags, and we filled them with clothing and toiletries, her blue eyes brimming with tears. My sister was oblivious to everything. She didn’t understand what the ramifications were. The fact that Mom had been deemed an unfit parent. We weren’t properly taken care of, among other things, more serious things. The fact that we were having to move away from her permanently, sent to live with Dad, someone we rarely saw and barely knew. I understood it, and was afraid. Mom placed the filled bags next to the front door, lining them up. When we heard a knock at the door, the three of us froze in place. None of us wanted to answer.
Dad seemed in good spirits. He always did, when we’d see him. He packed our bags in the back of a beat up brown station wagon, and let us say our goodbyes in private. Mom hugged us close, and I could smell her, trying hard never to forget the way she smelled. Faint perfume and desperation. My sister hugged her, too, and then we walked away from our home, the only one we’d ever known. As Dad drove out of the apartment community parking lot, I turned around and saw Mom, standing in the sliding door, in front of the cream-colored polyester curtain. She was waving, chest heaving. I could imagine her sobs were loud and painful.
Many years went by. A lot of indiscretions from both my parents, and some from me, too. I spent most of my teen years in complete anger and rebellion towards my dad. I’d seen Mom as a victimized woman, as someone who had a lot of mental and emotional issues that had been compounded due to his behavior. Dad would never argue with me, and he never tried to upset me, or fight with what I had assumed was the truth. He didn’t stand in the way of my relationship with my mother, and it wasn’t until years later that he finally broke down and told me the truth.
He had tried desperately to see us. Mom never allowed it. He’d make a date, and she’d break it. It was always on her terms. Now that I’m an adult, I believe him, wholeheartedly. No one is innocent, here. I get that. But I know, over twenty years later, that the way the picture had been painted for me, was not the full picture at all. Or maybe I only saw what I wanted to see, as a child. I also regard how young my parents were. My mom was only 19 when she had me, my dad 21. So young to be parents, to be mature and responsible for another life. They were only kids themselves. Not to mention how often adults use their children as weapons during times of discord, like a divorce. My mom was hurt, and very angry. I remember how in pain she was. For her, this might have been a way for her to “get back” at my dad, for how much pain he’d inflicted on her. I’m in no way justifying it, only understanding it.
I wish I had never hidden behind that curtain. I wish my mom hadn’t confided in me, and could see that I was just a young girl, with idealized visions of who my dad was. I wish she hadn’t soured him, but by the same token, I wish Dad had tried harder. Done more, whatever that would have meant at the time.
As much as I wish those things, I am glad I know the truth. The thing is, I’ve learned so much from what I’ve grown up with, and what I’ve witnessed. When my second marriage ended, I knew I could never let things go down the way things had for me, as a child. My 8-year old was only 2 at the time, and the ex and I made a pact, that we’d never speak badly about the other person, around our son. That we’d present as much of a united front as possible, that we’d always try to make him the center of our decisions. It hasn’t always been a sunshine-ridden road, and there have been bumps along the way, but we do the best we can.
It’s all my parents could do, too. I know that, now. Now that I’m thirty-five, and I have two children, and I get stressed out. Life gets chaotic. My parents were young and trying to find their way, and times were tough for them. Although I haven’t spoken to my mom in over eight years due to other reasons not associated with this story, I have already let go of the burden of my childhood, with her, years ago. It took longer with my dad, but I’ve forgiven him, and even now, he reminisces about those days, and how he’d give anything to be a better father than he’d been. He’s more than made up for it in later years, and we are close. He’s a hero to me.
With time, and age, comes wisdom, and maturity, and eventually, the truth will set you free.
A side note: I am one of those obnoxious people who would prefer to know the truth. I feel as though when someone doesn’t give me the full report, I’m not being respected. Even if it hurts, I’d prefer honesty over dishonestly, or half-truths. Or omission. So, what do you think? Do you think it’s better to not know the truth, or to know it? Share your thoughts.