The Past Is Alive

Lately, I did a lot of thinking about my past. Or rather, my family’s past.

I don’t know the history between my parents and I probably never will. Each tells a different story. What I do know the two sides of my families were never civil until recent years. And “civil” in this context means “don’t associate with the other”.

Some say children are blessings. That doesn’t describe my birth into my family. My at-the-time impending arrival was not met with the impatient excitement I often see on Facebook. My parents were never in a committed a relationship. They dated for a few weeks or months, banged at least, and split. Neither wanted to be a parent, nor was either in a position to be a parent, but three fourths of a year later, I would come out.

Eventually, I learned my family’s actions weren’t my fault, but I still thought of myself as the reason. After all, having a mouth to feed when you can’t feed your own hardly makes life easier. My mom was utterly lost with parenting after I was capable of doing more than crawling around with a bottle. My dad never tried to begin with, and made it known he wasn’t interested. He was involved in my life, but not beyond being the “fun guy”, and even that was only because his parents made him take part after I was proven to be his.

My dad started a relationship with a woman who had a son, and treated that kid worse. Most of the time, my father was nice to me, but to the son of his now late girlfriend of 19 years, he made it blatant he didn’t like him. He abused him. I didn’t grasp the situation until I was an adult and realized my then-stepbrother was mistreated and ignored by everyone: his mom, my dad, and his dad. Yet was still nice to me. He ran away at the age of 13, and I regret I wasn’t a better little sister to him.

And of course, there’s the simple fact my birth brought together two families who utterly despise each other. The dysfunction peaked during my teen years, but they hated each other long before that. Had I not come, my parents would’ve stayed apart, and two families who dislike each other wouldn’t have had to be tolerant (to put it nicely) for two decades. That’s a weight I can’t quite get off my conscience.

My parents are in a relationship now, but only because 1) I am an adult, which frees my father of any and all parental responsibility, and 2) loneliness. Yes, throughout all of those years, even with his girlfriend, he was attracted to and wanted to be with my mom, but I was there and being with her meant being a full-time parent to me. I’m still in the way, as I live with my mom due to finances and her being schizophrenic, and my dad’s view of my sister (not his child) and me is we’re “cock blockers”.

What’s on my mind lately is how much of my family’s dysfunction is the result of me and how much is the result of their own choices.

It goes without saying the responsibility of kids brings on a whole new kind of stress. It’s the one choice that cannot be undone. Breaking up a relationship or moving to a town aren’t easy processes, but they can be done. Once a person is born, there is no going back. Only age or premature death removes the parents’ obligation, and that’s still only the obligation, not the person’s life itself. In other words, birth cannot be reversed.

“Well, duh, Kaye. Everyone knows that!”

Yeah, me too, and yet, many people put more thought into their dinner plans than becoming parents. If statistics are to be believed, roughly half of the time, it amounts to “oops!”. Yes, I know happy accidents exist, but I was not one of them, which is what this post is about.

My mother was against abortion (take note I said was) and didn’t adopt me out. While I recognize those are sometimes hard choices, they are still choices, correct? Or does being against abortion and adopting out render having a child no longer a choice? I consider my mother better than my father for being a parent, but it was clear to me before my age hit double digits she was doing it because she was stuck with me. Granted, there is no manual for parenting, so she didn’t know what to do when the baby grows beyond being an autonomous crying burrito that needs more than milk, a bath, and a clean diaper. Err, what do you do with them?

However, if beliefs about abortion and adopting out your child are choices, that means keeping the child is a choice too, right? Does that mean the true reason for my family’s dysfunction is my parents’ choices? Or am I assigning too much blame, and my being still plays a part? Are my being and their choices equally responsible for my family’s dysfunction? Is it possible my existence truly is the sole reason? It goes without saying life was easier for all involved before I came to be, and in almost three decades, their positions haven’t changed. Yes, both of my parents are in the same places they were in almost thirty years ago.

I don’t doubt my mom loves me now, but while I hold respect for her, she truly was not a good parent. She was better than my father only in the sense she was there, not that she was competent. She tried her best, and I will never say she didn’t, but her best is on par with patting one’s self on the back for not driving drunk. Given the choice, I would venture into the past to erase my birth for the sake of my mother’s life. I have no hesitance about that.

Ultimately, what’s done is done, and since my attempts to take myself out never came to pass, I’m here until something outside of my own hand removes me. Three events so far failed to do so, so it seems that’ll take a while, but I won’t push my luck.

Although, my boyfriend tells I am a blessing to his life. It’s nice to know my existence benefit at least one person (of course, sooner or later, he would’ve met someone else; I’m one of about 166.7 million women in our country, after all).