Thursday, December 07, 2006

Confessions, continued (with photos)

Well, I promised you all who have kindly shared your holiday joys and woes that I would share mine. Sadly, the odds lean toward people feeling obligated to unpleasant situations, with the occasional joyous person thrown in (hooray for you folks!), and a few who just take the holidays in stride.

For me, the holidays are a mixture of joy and dread. I'm a child of divorce, and now an adult of divorce and I envy those who can go to one, or even two places for their holidays--in their own family, that is.

My parents got together when they were teenagers. They stayed together as long as they could--about 10 years. They split when I was two.

Christmases in my childhood were magically able to erase some of the hard realities of my life: that my parents were no longer married never bothered me--that my mother was still in the grips of a serious addiction, did. That my father had his own nefarious way of getting by that didn't involve a 9 to 5 job, did. That I pinged back and forth between them on a weekly basis, having to change my routine and my comforts every week of my life, did. That there was often a new man or woman in their lives, did. But for one day a year, the seam healed, the dramas ceased, and there were presents, and my grandmother flew out from New York, and my parents even came to the same house--as they were always friendly to one another--and celebrated what I now just think of as "holiday togetherness," since Christmas has always been about family, not Christ, in my houses.

After my Dad remarried and my brother and sister were born Christmas got complicated. It became my holiday with my mom and her husband--because now there was this other family that my Dad needed tending to.
I wasn't the child of the family anymore. With two little children Christmas turned into something else--an event thrown together after two exhausted parents managed to find time to put up a doggy little tree and wrap some presents. Christmas wasn't mine anymore and I wasn't so little and I remember feeling as though a door had been left open, letting in a gust of cold air. This is when I began to feel outside.

I guess this is what children normally go through when they have a sibling born who is 2 or 4 or even 6 years apart, but it happened to me at quite a late age. I was 14.5 when my brother was born, nearly 17 when my sister was.

For me, Christmas at my dad's has since been a strange affair. Less magic, more obligation. But at least we got together. As my siblings got older, it got better because they were people I came to know and feel close to.

Then, three years ago, my father and my stepmother split.

And not in an easy way. And yet there I was, a married adult with my own life. This wouldn't affect me, right? But it has. It does. There are now more family lines, more allegiances and alliances and people's feelings to consider, and households...

Yet this year, getting together just reminds me how unglued this family is, how angry and hurt I am that I got cast out so many years ago (yes, there's some teenage drama still left in that feeling bag) how unhealed so many things are. No matter how hard I try to let everyone live their own life, without being too judgmental, I react. I lose myself.

Fortunately for me, I chose a husband who has an uncanny way of providing me with all the things I feel I didn't "get" and who knows how to help me through this unpleasant time. He, who grew up without Christmas, has learned to love it for me and he generally does something to make me cry (with joy).

Christmas is a holiday we celebrate, not for me--the adult--but for that little, lonely girl who truly looked forward to the one day a year when she could believe that everything was going to be okay. And if we ever should become parents, I will just be glad that we have created this family, this single place, where it's okay to want to feel special.


At 9:45 AM, Blogger Word said...

I will say it again-- Jordan, you were a beautiful little girl!

Your post made me feel grateful for my relatively happy family. My parents have been married for 45 years or so. They get along. The holidays don't always mean joy for me, but they aren't ladened with many complicated emotions for the most part.

But now that I think about it, I guess part of this is my own doing. There are self-destructive people in my family, but I severely limit my time and exposure to them. This can upset them and make them complain a lot, and sometimes it makes me feel a little cold, but darn it, life is too short to feel bad and manipulated by people just because they are related to me. Luckily, these are fringe relatives and no one I would have to deal with on a major level, like my parents or Kyle's parents or something.

I am rambling now. Anyway, thanks for the interesting, honest post. -- Joy

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Thanks so much joy! I can't tell you how much I admire your ability to cut off from unhealthy people, to put your own mental health first. I have done a little bit of it, but it's very hard for me to separate from my immediate family. I think you're probably a happier person for your choices. You didn't ramble at all!


At 5:16 AM, Blogger twoblueday said...

I guess we don't really ever get over the disappointments and failed dreams of childhood. Thanks for sharing your story. Maybe this season is the season of remembrance and sharing the wistfulness of life.

At 5:36 AM, Blogger Patrushka said...

Oh dear! I'm still crying while I write this. It makes me very very sad to think of you as a child going through those difficult times and expecting Christmas to come and make everything look "as it should always be".

This was probably the most touching post I have read so far... or it may be that I'm too sensitive today. But as I'm not about to menstruate, I think it's the first.


You are very lucky to have met E.
That was a good choice you made!

All my love to you and the little Jordan,

At 6:34 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Two blue: No, I don't think we ever fully recover from our childhoods--good or difficult. This stuff tends to come up for me specifically at this holiday. THe rest of the year I'm a happy person.

Patricia: Thank you, my dear cousin. Pedro is lucky to have you as a mother, I can tell you that. He is so very lucky!


At 7:16 AM, Blogger J said...

To say that I enjoyed reading that sounds like I took joy from your misery. That couldn't be farther from the truth. But I enjoyed reading it and it got to me and don't know how else to say it.

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

J: Thanks. I understand what you mean.

At 3:26 PM, Blogger E. said...

You will always be the most special girlwomanhuman I have or ever will know.


At 7:14 PM, Blogger Patry Francis said...

Such an honest and beautiful piece of writing, j.--like the little girl in the pictures. Know that there are lots of people out there who cherish and admire you this Christmas.

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Susan said...

Hey cutie,

Never mind the holiday get together because today we are having a tea party with tiaras and long gloves and petite fours. You can consider it a pre-celebration for the huge book deal you'll get this year, or you can enjoy it just because you're special and we love you.

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Melba said...

Wow. Being a child of divorce myself I can really relate to this post.
That picture of you s a little girl at the the end of your post says so much. I kept looking at her seeing myself, seeing how much I still need to hold and heal my own inner child.

(blogger is being weird today and sometimes I can't comment with my user name so I am leaving my link just in case. I found your blog through Laini's. I will come by and visit again):)


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