Friday, April 19, 2013

Walking Away

If there was one lesson The Puppet Master and the array of other adults in my childhood taught me, it was how to walk away.
It seems I spent my childhood feeling like a commodity, and an expendable one at that. I watched many people come and go from my life...parents, step-parents, relatives, friends; all while the
primary adults in my life seemed to be playing a game of chess with me as the pawn.
Looking back, I suppose I should be grateful. Those hard-learned lessons of childhood prepared me for a hard-scrabble life I couldn't have foreseen back then. Being on the receiving end of "the walk" so often has given me the strength and courage to walk away from abusive relationships with friends and family, as well as lovers.
Still, it doesn't mean that it was easy.
Walking away is usually very painful for me. I don't let many people into my inner world to begin with and having to remove them from my life is often like exercising a demon you've gotten on a first-name basis with.
Still, it's been necessary. I've walked away from friendships that had become toxic, a husband I loved with all the passion of youth that became abusive, and most recently, family that I loved dearly.
Deciding when to walk, and who to walk away from, usually hurts me more than it does them, which seems to be the case with my family.
I won't sugar-coat it, I think I've always known, deep-down, that it would happen one day, and part of me figured it would be when The Puppet Master passed, but who expected her to go before she was 60? Who would have imagined that a woman, always so full of life, would suddenly become ill and be gone before we could really come to terms with her illness?
I guess part of me, of all of us, had the idea that she would live forever somehow, or at least well into old-age. Even when she had her heart attack some 4 years ago now, we all said it was stress and thought she was getting better.
I knew when she died that my time with the family she left behind was limited, but I couldn't have imagined the way it would go down or how limited it really was. That some of my "family" would simply turn their backs on me, or that the man I'd called "Daddy" for nearly 30 years would suddenly say the words I never thought I'd hear. He stopped my heart and my world when he bluntly said "I'm not your Daddy. I never was." Almost a year later and my heart can still hear the words as clearly as if it was yesterday.
Of course, we always knew he wasn't my biological father. He was my 2ND step-father and I knew who my biological father was, even though he wasn't worth claiming. The point was, this was one of the two men that I'd called "Daddy" practically all my life, the other being my first step-dad.
I was never allowed to call any of my family "step" or "half" anything. I was taught that family was family.
The other shocker was my half-brother. I've loved that boy all of his life. Honestly, out of all the family I lost, I think losing him hurt the worst. Somehow I thought that he loved me, in spite of how everyone else may have felt. That he would be the one that would remain part of my life, even if just phone calls to say he was ok, but I don't even get that. There is a gaping hole I'm my heart where he should be, a wound that never seems to heal. A place reserved only for him.
I guess I wasn't the only one The Puppet Master taught the lesson of walking away to. A lesson he seems to have learned even better than me.
I've come to terms with the loss of that family, even if I still find myself occasionally picking at the scabs. They still itch from time to time. Something tells me they always will.
An old saying that I've adapted for the purposes of my own faith goes, "When the gods close a door, they open a window" and I've found that to be true. I lost that family, but in it's place, I've once again found my family from childhood. My legacy from my first step-dad. He passed when I was in my early 20's, but he left behind a family (parts of it anyway) that has welcomed me back into the fold with open arms. My sister-cousin, Tiger, her husband Bear, her mom -Aunt Hippy (she's a hippy still and I love her for it) and her husband, Uncle Boomhower (he reminds me of Boomhower when he talks).
Aunt Hippy and I spend a lot of time talking about Dad (Teddy Bear), who was her brother, and I've discovered that years after the divorce, he still spoke of me from time to time with love and affection.
After losing all my "family" with the Puppet Master's passing, it helped my battered and scaly old heart to know that he loved me long after I was taken out of his life. I never faded from the memory of the family he gave me as I have with Step-Dad and his family. That in itself is a comfort.
Tiger and her family accept Draco and I, just as we are. I don't have to hide myself from them or pretend to be anything I'm not to feel deserving of their love. They give it freely and willingly and still would even if I didn't love them back. That just makes me love them more.
With them, I am the baby, even at almost 40. They love hard, they pet me, and they spoil me, which is something I never got before from any family other than them. It's something I didn't know I needed until they gave it so abundantly.
With them, I am at peace in a way I've never been before and Draco and I have taken to spending weekends with them because we can't bear to be away from them. They are my oasis in the desert.
The separation through the week is hard on us all, it would seem, but especially so on me and Tiger. We talk for several hours a day while our men are at work and now, we play WoW and talk in Vent most nights as well. It's my life-line through the week that gets me through to the weekend.
Speaking of weekends, it's Friday. Draco had to work today, but as soon as he gets off, we're on the road to see our family. Tomorrow, Tiger and Bear are throwing him a birthday dinner and Aunt H and Uncle B are coming. I better get moving and finish getting ready!
Hope you all have a blessed weekend! Until next time...