Today was one of those days, where the members of this household were speaking completely different languages. One happy person would comment on say, the weather, another lightly-distracted person would respond in agreement and add a half-hearted comment to show support and then the third person would be like, What did you just say about the weather? How could you say such a thing? Why don’t you care about me? Perhaps storming from the room and their family members. Don’t even try to guess who plays which role in this drama because we all took turns in various parts today. And replace weather with any random topic such as rocks, drawing, scootering or something on the news and you will have a pretty good idea of how the day progressed.
We were not only not on the same page…we weren’t even in the same book!
The most recent of these exchanges, as they comedically (or annoyingly) came up over and over again like a skipping record just happened an hour ago and I will admit that this time I took the vulnerable role, needing to leave the room as the tears began to brim. It wasn’t about the opposition or the content (couldn’t even say what it was) but I was suddenly triggered by a song playing in the background to our mini conflict taking place as we ate dinner.
Actually it wasn’t even the song…it was the first 10 seconds of the track, the noise of an airplane as it left the runway that gripped my chest and made me cry. My closest friends know that “Every time you go away” by Paul Young is in my all time top 10 favourite songs. Yes they are my friends despite knowing such a cheesy 80’s ballad gets to mingle with other socially acceptable songs like “Santeria” by Sublime, “Low Light” by Pearl Jam and “In the Meantime” by Spacehog…actually that last one might also make you embarrassed to know me (even if only through my written word). But the thing is, Paul Young’s power ballad, originally written and released (but never released as a single) by Hall and Oates (LOVE them too), has always had a nostalgic feel for me. The melody, the lyrics, the electric sitar and piano leading us from the sound of a love lost as a plane leaves the tarmac…it was poetry to my ears, even at 6 years old. It was never sad for me though, until tonight.
Young’s song was released in 1985 (consequently my son’s favourite year because of Back to the Future). Young is from England, and the summer he released this soon to be massive hit, I was in England visiting our biological Father with my big brother. That summer was full of memories for me, some good, like staying at the Flower Pot (Hotel) in London and making mud pies in the back garden with the owners children and their perfectly English Sheepdog, some bad, like slipping in cow manure on a slab of cement filthying my green and white sundress at the dairy farm belonging to my Father’s then-girlfriend or getting violently ill on the eve of my 6th birthday and repeatedly projectile vomiting everywhere. And so this song takes me back to a time of my childhood when I was given the last extended stay I would have, or choose to have, with my biological Father. (Maybe there is a tinge of sadness to the truth in this fact, for most of my life it has just been that, a fact). A fact I accepted as we grew further apart for many uncontrollable circumstances, such is life and haven’t really looked back as it wasn’t in my power, and later in my compulsion to change.
My biggest effort came as a 22-year-old, when I graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree and my Mom and my (adopted) Dad bought me a ticket to backpack around Europe as a gift. I carved out 2 weeks of my trip to spend time with my estranged family in the Welsh Countryside. It was mostly okay and I was able to tap into some otherwise difficult “things” around this strange relationship I had with this side of me, I was given some closure as well, when bio-dad made amends for his past behaviours to me, my brother and my Mother. I was able to accept his olive branch, frequent a few of my (deceased) Grandfather’s favourite pubs, meet and know a sliver of the life these others, who shared my DNA, were living on the other side of the world. An altogether different world or reality from mine. I also left feeling a bit cold, and not just because it likes to rain there a lot in October (man is it gorgeously and impossibly green), but because I had come to understand this part of me as just genetic material.
Until recently (with more foresight I would have called my blog “Until Recently” as I am sure I use this phrase every write…it serves the transformation process territory so well though) I had continued on this path of indifference. Upon my return from Europe, life only got busier and became more my own and so the correspondence waned. For various other logistics, that I won’t get into at this time, I was communicating sporadically through my Aunt who would relay the details to her younger brother (my bio-Dad) just to keep him in the loop. Last Spring, when she told me he was coming to Canada to stay with her for a visit for the first time (to my knowledge) in over 20 years, I freaked out. Not openly, this was before Sarah 2.0, I repressed and allowed the anxiety cycle to take me over until I finally just told her I couldn’t nurture a relationship with him because basically I was all grown up and needed to focus on my own family. So many people were like, “Good for you Sarah!” but my mom was like, “Ummm, Okay?!” I went with the majority and felt relief, but not the kind when you finally say “no” to that extra committee you’ve been asked to reside on (you know, a healthy high quality no), it was like being let off the hook or complete and utter avoidance. I just didn’t have the tools to deal with re-connecting at that time.
My reading and research into my wellness lead me through the mind, body, spirit connection and then to epigenetics and this now gets kinda inconvenient! My family has little messes on both sides! Holes and puzzles and trauma oh my! And because I can’t unring the bell, the alarms seem to be going off on many branches of my family tree; estranged Bio-dad branch included. Some of the other writing I have been doing had confirmed that my, we will call it for lack of a better word, “relationship” with him is unresolved to the point of being a pretty big trigger, colouring a lot of my thinking, speaking and actions as I interact with my world, way over here (7010 kms and an ocean away). Recalling some childhood memories of before he left, only some because that is all I have, writing about them and crying with every tap of the keyboard. It was a good release and it helped me acknowledge my pain and that this story is not just simply shared DNA.
I reached out to his sister over a week ago, hoping she would re-connect in spite of me cutting them off, I resent the email a few days later to make sure it went through (she was always very prompt in her responses to me a year ago). She has yet to respond and now I fear, in my vulnerability, that I may not be granted the choice to re-connect with him. The thing is, we aren’t getting any younger, any of us. I have been talking to my husband and my Mom about this and letting them know how my anxiety is heightened by this situation because it is so beyond my control. But hearing that song tonight sent me into that familiar place of worry; worry of abandonment, worry of regret, fear that it may never happen or if it does, it’s too late, for what I am unsure. Just like the lyrics say every time you go away, you take a piece of me with you…There is a piece of me that isn’t here, and I believe it might be there with him, just as all the other significant people in my life have made me who I am, piece by piece, and when I am not okay with one of those people, there is a tiny piece that is missing.
So my day has progressed from different pages, to entirely different books, to family trees with different branches but never a different tree no matter how estranged. These examples are all about communication and connection, two things I am really seeking right now, two things I can no longer deny, two things that are sometimes so difficult no matter how close (shoulder to shoulder at the dinner table) or far apart (across the Atlantic) we are. I hope I can listen to this song again someday and not have it overshadowed by the things that could not be.