Sometimes some of us are searching for things in life. We may not even realize for many years what we are searching for until we get to be adults. But as even as we twist through life, there are choices that are continually made in our lives that seem to follow a theme. And these choices or paths that appear to have the same scenery or types of players, all seem to add up to the fact there must be something particular we are seeking. Something that is either missing or that we are yearning to have as part of our story.
This really has become very clear to me within the last year or so. As an abandoned child, subsequently adopted into a caring home, a sense of belonging to a loving family always seemed to allude me. While my home was not a bad one, it did lack siblings and somehow it did seem to be missing some sort of closeness or deep sense of familial bonding.
With that sense of loss or lack, it felt like so many of my decisions or choices were based on this illusive desire to fill a deep, dark and empty space within my being. It’s not something I was always consciously aware of actually, although at times I did think about it openly. Like when I would meet a new potential boyfriend and would wonder if he had a big family and if they would end up ‘loving’ me.
It went beyond just the men I met, because they didn’t provide enough of the soil to fill this hole. Everyone is supposed to have a spouse when they grow up and move out. But I was still looking for that jump off point, the family to move out from and the people who would always be there if I needed them.
Everyone surrounding me seemed to have these extended families they had parties with and were going to their weddings, or on vacations with relatives. In my younger years, we did share time with my adopted family, but somehow I always felt the outsider. I’m not sure why–it was nothing tangible and everyone was good to me. And yet, my heart still felt lonely as I grew up.
With my second husband, I was about 25 when there was an emergency situation where his younger sister and brother had to come live with us. They were 11 and 9 at the time respectively. Our marriage was a strained one; we were young, he drank and we fought a lot. But these kids were in trouble and it was us or foster care so the decision was easy.
They lived with us for a number of years until the marriage was under such a strain that I simply had to leave. It was one of the hardest choices I ever had to make–not because of my husband, but because of them.
It is now many, many years later. His sister and I had only a bit of time where we weren’t in touch and this was due to some circumstances she could not control. Luckily, she now has her life back, and we have our wonderful relationship back. Except for the blip, we’ve always been close. Like sisters.
What I have come to realize about it all is this: what I was meant to have from that marriage was my relationship with her (and now her brother again too). She is not only my best friend and confidant, but the sister I never had (and always wanted). In fact, I’m not even sure having children has filled the gap in my life that she has filled. Maybe that will change as they get older, but for now, she gives me more than anyone has so far.
And recently, when I saw her brother and we reconnected, he has told me how much I influenced his life in many ways. It was amazing to hear since it was just a few years we lived together. She and I discussed it last night and I told her that I was so surprised. That’s when she said that she felt the same way. I simply broke down and cried. Because it hit me right then that this was the family I had always been searching for and yet, it was right there in front of me.
These two people cared about me and understood that the 25-year-old me simply did what I believed to be was right and taught them best I could. Now they say it was the foundation of a belief system based on strong ethics and compassion they carry with them in life. It’s one of the highest compliment I could possibly be paid.
Realizing after 58 years that family can surround you sometimes unknowingly and without really looking. And it slips into your heart through laughter, realizations, tears, years, pain, resurfacing, resurrection, mistakes and many, many conversations. It’s not always about genes or adoption papers or Aunts or Uncles. Sometimes it’s just about those that understand and accept you at a level like no-one else ever will and love you anyway.