My family is what you would call ‘disjointed’ – to say the least. My parents divorced when I was 5 and my brother was 1. My dad remarried the wicked witch of Durban, and my mom remarried the local drunk. They both then got divorced – again. Some kind of rollercoaster.
My teenage years were full of hate and tears, as I felt disappointed by my parents time and time again. There were constant arguments and I always felt like I was stuck in the middle being asked to favour one parent over the other. On parent days I had to seat one parent on one side of the hall and one on the other. Every year I spent my birthday with one parent and Christmas with the other, and then swapped the next year. I felt broken and torn in two. It made me a person I never want to be again – constantly angry at everything and everyone.
Because I was always so angry with my family and with the world, I couldn’t see past my own blinkers. I couldn’t see how much my so-called ‘family’ was actually still a family – as disjointed as it is – until they were no longer around. I don’t mean that in a bad, they all died kind of way. They are still very much alive. I just live about 9000 km away. I moved to London 3 years ago, and only now that I am totally on my own have I realised just how much I need my family around me – disjointed or not.
I have come to realise how much I leant on them when I was at home. I have realised that for all of these failures I used to see in my parents, they are a million more successes. And I have realised that in the annoyance I used to see as my brother, I have a best friend. My family is still disjointed – my mom and dad rarely speak to each other, and I still get the ‘don’t let your mom/dad put you in the middle of it all’ and then having to listen to one rant about the other. I still have to tell my news twice, and I have to consciously think about who I tell it to first so that I don’t upset the other. I have two Christmas celebrations, two birthdays, and well – I need two me’s to do it all. But, where I was once the angry person upset by all of this, I am now the lucky person who has two families.
My brother and I are the constant in this little saga – but we have one family with my mom and one family with my dad. I have come to see these two ‘broken halves’ as complete wholes in their own right. They are mutually exclusive of each other, but also work hand in hand. They are my family and each day I go by without seeing them (now going on 2 years) I find out more and more just what an important role they play in my life.
I used to see them as a burden, as making my life difficult. But now, they are everything to me, and I am forever grateful for everything they have given me and continue to give me.