06 Apr Tales from a Broken Home – Part 1
My mother managed to birth six children who all have absolutely nothing in common – except that she’s our mother. My siblings and I have never gotten along. The truth is we were never taught to love or to defend each other; but is this really an excuse to continue this charade in our adult life? I don’t think so. We’ve spent most of our lives fighting, misunderstanding, and judging each other. That includes me. We’ve also had different life experiences; everyone has children except for our disabled sister and me. We’ve all lived in different states for almost 20 years; the last six years alone, I’ve lived in two different states – Florida and California.
Growing up, our household was very dark. We spent most of our days cleaning or in our bedroom watching TV. I still hate seeing a stain on the wall. My mother worked nights, so we barely saw her but when we did, there was an overwhelming amount of fear that overcame us. She knew how to yell our names in a way that would send a shock through our bodies. We’d sprint through the house, arriving at the edge of her bed within seconds, “Ma,am”. My mother set the tone for the house; we never talked to each other; we preferred yelling. We never went out to eat as a family, we never celebrated our birthdays, and she never picked up our report cards from school. We didn’t have yearly checkups at the doctor or go to the dentist to get a teeth cleaning. I didn’t go to the dentist for the first time until I was twelve (12) years old and when I did, let’s just say it became my second home.
As time went by, one by one, my siblings started to leave the house, leaving me alone with my mother. After they left, we barely spoke to each other; we’d speak maybe once or twice a year. We didn’t have family reunions, so we only saw each other when we traveled down south for funerals. Over time, I grew accustomed to being the only child in the house but just like my siblings, I would eventually plan an exit strategy. Everyone before me had given up on education; they dropped out or were kicked out and never went back. However, I really enjoyed learning, so I thought maybe if I graduate from high school, I’d get my mother and siblings attention – I thought, maybe I could help change the family dynamic – maybe they’ll see that there is more to life if I do it -maybe I’ll be the hero. This was such a childlike dream and one that has not come to fruition.
Instead of coming together as a family, it drew us farther apart; they started saying that I acted and talked white. What exactly does that mean? They said that I was choosing friends over family, I left them, and that I was pretending to be someone that I wasn’t. I would say that from their perspectives, all of these things are true. However, my truth is that my friends are my family, I ran when I got the opportunity to go to college, and I’m simply not the twelve (12) year old little girl that they used to know. I’ve grown up and have evolved over the years so since they didn’t see the evolution of me from grade school to adulthood, then surely my life looks like a sham to them. We started to argue more; I was actually trying to defend getting an education. SMH I have learned that when you’re trying to defend yourself to someone who has his or her mind made up about you, you are wasting your time! It’s like I’m under a microscope; my every move is being watched and opinions are constantly being formed. So I started to share a limited amount to no details about my life with them. I didn’t trust that they’d receive me wholeheartedly without making the same fictitious claims.
Being the fifth child and the first to graduate from high school didn’t come with lavish gifts or praise from my siblings. In fact, no one called to congratulate me; it was like another day of the week, and another day that we went without speaking. I could say that it’s due to the age gap – my oldest brother and I are seven years apart, but it’s deeper than age. I think there is more than one thing that has contributed to the brokenness. There are layers and years of damage meaning: it’s going to take years to create a new bond. I strategically said create because to say repair would imply that there was once a bond. I would conclude that it includes pride, stubbornness, ignorance, pettiness, and capacity. We’re limited in knowledge and only know the bare minimum about each other. No one wants to apologize or accept responsibility for his or her part in the brokenness. It’s been a common trend to blame my mother for not teaching us how to love each other and although I partially agree with this statement, but I would add that I do not believe that she is solely responsible. Our capacities extend only to what we are comfortable with or familiar with, we all have different definitions of family, and how to love one another.
I often wonder if ignorance is a justifiable answer for all of our issues. I can’t tell you why they don’t show up or call, but I can speak for me – I’ve had challenges showing them love. Let me explain. To say you love someone is easy, but love is an action word, a verb. When someone tells you they love you, you can feel if they are genuine or not. It’s usually because it matches your love language, so you can feel it. I care for my sisters and brothers, but I didn’t know how to love them.
One Sunday, my pastor shared his testimony. I felt compelled to asked him about my situation so after service, I walked up to him and asked him for some advice. Surprisingly, he didn’t give me this long thought out overly religious answer. “God has already given you everything that you need, so don’t look for them to love you or to validate you. You just be love to them.” You mean to tell me that’s it! I considered all that I had done and how I tried to manipulate them; where was my heart? I’ve always had good intentions, planning family trips, reunions, and activities – but all with the motivation of if I do this, then maybe they’ll do that. My love for them was conditional, but I was expecting perfection from them. It was a reality check, one that changed my perspective on love and freed me from this conditional bondage.
God, thank you for your wisdom. I haven’t always been fair, I haven’t always gotten it right, but I thank you for correcting and forgiving me. I pray that you touch the lives of all of my family, especially my siblings. We’ve looked for love in all the wong places. We’ve blamed everyone for the things we didn’t have and we’ve failed to acknowledge that You’ve already given us everything that we need. I thank you for this revelation. I pray that with your truth, we will find new ways to communicate. I declare a healing over this family. We will no longer be bound by the chains of our past, but we will look to the future and the abundant plans that You have for our lives. You did not call for us to be apart, but You’ve intentionally put us together for a reason – to build, stretch, and empower us to be better. You are not a God of mistakes so even in our darkest moments, you had great intentions for us. I pray that we embrace Your will for this family. Use us in a mighty way, in a way that will break chains and generational curses. I decree and declare that we are free from all the yokes that have kept us in bondage. I ask all of these things in Your son Jesus’s name. Amen.