Home Movies and Regrets

I’ve been recording old home movies that come from my Dad’s collection the last couple of days. I am struck how foolish I was back then. I was so convinced that my home life was awful. I was so angry and claustrophobic of my family for no reason. I see pictures of us laughing and having a wonderful time together as an extended family, with not just my parents and siblings but grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and even my cranky great Auntie Ishe. In one “reel”, I was with Gordon and in one, I’m with Allen. In all, I am aloof and antisocial for the most part. Yet, in 1991, that year I ran away right after Christmas Day, the video shows us all talking, laughing, joking, singing, a whole group, loving and happy.

I remember how I seethed under all my pretend smiles. I remember how I hated my looks, my body, my personality. I remember how I felt so stifled and crushed by the family, most especially my Mom. I remember how I hated smiling when I just wanted to run and hide away from them all. I clung to both Gordon and then Allen, feeling so inadequate and insufficient in myself. I hated the clothes I didn’t buy for myself. I believed I was fat and ugly and worthless. I got all my self esteem from Gordon and then Allen. And then Jared after him! I’m betting if I was watching the movies where Jared and I were together, I would see the exact same things as I have in these older videos.

How did I miss the love that surrounded my family? How did I not see how much we all cared for each other? That chaotic sound of laughing chatter and banter between a tight knit family is something special. As I discovered after I ran away, my family was and is co-dependent, but they are also loving and respectful of each other. A treasure that’s not so easily found. I thought life was so awful, so controlling and so abusive. I now know what anger, abuse and dysfunction really is. And it is not my family!


Now Auntie Ishe is long gone and Grandpa is recently gone. Grammie and Grandan are frail – still jolly and joking, but oh, so fragile. They, too, will soon be gone. Aunts, uncles and cousins are distant and unknown. I hurt my siblings when I left them, not just my parents who were the ones my anger was mostly aimed at. My brother has gone from the funny joker who laughed easily to an angry, unhappy, stressed out man. My beautiful, sweet, little sister is still beautiful and sweet but I missed her growing up and I was such a poor hero for her. My brother was my best friend back then. I lost him in my anger and rebelliousness. I shut my siblings out when I shut my parents out, when I traded my family for a violent, psychotic one and then a controlling, guilt instilling and invasive one.

Even now, my family is apart from the whole. Darren’s family is 5.5 hours away from us and my family is 23 hours away from us. We see them rarely. The happy chaos is still there during family functions but it is dimmed some. It isn’t as innocent anymore. I had my part in causing some of that tarnish.

I think I’ve finally found my regret that I’ve never had – or maybe just never owned up to before – that I cannot undo those damaged relationships and fix that happiness completely. I realize just how much my family means to me, particularly Grammie and Grandan. I miss my brother – the old version I once knew, the one where we did everything together, confided in each other, protected each other. I miss my sister – the time we spend together is few and far between since we are so distant in geography. I miss my grandparents – the time I spend with them is so precious. I fear losing their wisdom, their stories, their unique and forgiving love. I fear losing them. I even miss my parents sometimes. I can’t live where they do and I can’t be what they want me to be. But I wish sometimes that I could.

I guess this is one of those days… O_o


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Ken Durocher said,

    I guess we never really appreciate family until we are apart. Touching outpouring of your heart. Hope you have some happy family time over the next few weeks and months.

    • 2

      purrrkitten said,

      Thanks, Ken! I know I will have a wonderful Christmas with my kids and Darren. We have our own traditions we keep and I enjoy spending time with them. Sometimes I feel guilty that they are missing out on the closeness with the rest of the family that I had growing up. And sometimes I realize how good it is that they are learning to depend upon themselves as well as others. 🙂

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