My picture perfect family was coming apart and I am only now, in the present, realizing the full extent of this deconstruction. This wonderful place, this beautiful place, full of hopes and promises for each of us – the place where we all individually started our journey with joy and smiles on our faces was now folding into itself. The strain was beginning to show in the seams, but I never saw any of it coming, as I slowly descended into my own place of self-loathing, darkness, and anger. Looking back on it from a distance, I can only speculate at the clues, based on the circumstances, at what might have been lurking in the shadows. In this place dreams were born and then they were forcibly taken away. The sunny veneer was now worn and all of the imperfections were beginning to show.
For my brief time in cubs I would have some sort of interaction with my dad. Looking back, however, my experience of that place reveals that this was the only time I would have interaction with my dad. The company was a demanding mistress and consequently his days grew longer and longer and consumed more and more days a week. Pretty soon, it became the norm that my dad would appear for our daily supper time and then disappear to do some paperwork for work before heading to bed, only to arise very early the next morning to do it all over again. I would surmise that he was working an average of twelve hour days, quite often six days a week. He was chasing his own dreams that would eventually end up being a nightmare.
My mom was on her own journey, which showed up in this place as a vegetarian. However, she wasn’t a regular vegetarian. She was to vegetarianism as PETA is to animal rights. This, of course, was amusing to a ten year old boy whose father spent his entire day chopping up various animals into various cuts of meat for various people to purchase and cook in various ways. Not so amusing when the ten year old’s plate was losing more and more meat and gaining more and more different colors of leaves. The final coup-de-grace was when my mom would succumb to my dad’s demands for meat on his plate at the end of his day. She would prepare the meat but would serve it to her family via a well executed eulogy. Picture your favorite uncle’s funeral, where all of the family has gathered, and someone is standing at the front speaking passionately about uncle Bob, tears in people’s eyes, while at the back of the room, my brother, my dad, and me, were slurping our drinks, and loudly chewing on this piece of meat. I had to learn to push through those passionate speeches in order to thoroughly enjoy this bit of meat on my plate because I could not be sure of how long it might be before I would receive another portion. Our ignoring of my mom’s speeches did not seem to deter her much as she would continue to recite, “ode to cow” whenever the occasion would arise.
The next clue I had as to the deconstruction of my family had its meaning revealed to me only as an adult after I had walked some painful steps down a similar path. My reflection then amplified what happened and how that may have impacted my parents in a truly negative way. At that time in this beautiful coastal city I was aware that my parents were trying to adopt a baby girl. I am not sure why they didn’t try for another child naturally but here our family was in the midst of a process that would determine our eligibility to adopt. My parents, and in particular my mom, had their hearts set on adopting a baby girl. My mom was watching a baby girl full-time for a period of time, which may have been a catalyst to this decision as it was clear that all of us had grown quite attached to this little bundle of joy.
However, there were problems stirring. My little brother was acting up. I hardly paid attention to him at the best of times as we would constantly be rubbing each other the wrong way, so if we weren’t duct taped to each other we worked very hard to avoid each other. We were very different personalities and I was slowly withdrawing from society, drawing more and more into myself, my brother was making a big splash wherever he would go. Somewhere along this journey he decided he had enough with our family and so he ran away. Police were called and friends were looking and eventually my mom discovered him hiding under one of his friend’s front steps. The incident was brief but destructive. Social Services became involved and within a very short window of time my parent’s hopes at adoption came to a crashing halt. With problems on the home front my parents were not allowed to proceed with an adoption. They would fight and work hard to appeal this decision all the way to the next city but in the end they lost that battle and with that loss a part of my mom was lost as well.