Family is more like a like a giant sandbox, than a day at the beach. Castle after castle… no matter how you form them, mold after mold, bucket after bucket, they are still made of sand, these castles, and they will crumble if you put too much weight on them. After a day at the beach, you get to go home. Family isn’t quite as easy, don’t mind the metaphor, you are pretty much stuck with them for your whole entire life. And even if you sever ties physically, you will always remember emotionally, that you had to cut some cords. The sandbox always has the same sand in it, while the ocean washes new sand to the surface with every wave…
Everybody wants something.
Something from their parents, society, a lover, the gods. But parents seem to get the brunt of our wanting, and everyone’s a more complicated family story than the next. I could pick just about any family tale out of the bag and hit on some place or another where the wanting is not fulfilled by the parental role and there’s plenty of expectation from the “child”…
Just got off the phone with a woman who’s mom never wanted her in the first place, and yet she wouldn’t ever let her go. As a child, she was sheltered and lonely day in and day out. As much as she wanted to just run away, there was nowhere to go.
She didn’t have a dad or an aunt or even a sibling around to step up and help her out of the mess she had become; under the care of a completely self absorbed mother. She spent her time between wanting to get away and wanting some kind of approval and affection, The level of mental illness that ensued is astronomical. Now as an adult, she cannot tell the difference between loving interaction and negative attention, she is afraid to step out into any situation, and she has an unhealthy fear of everything.
I have a friend who left home at an early age, to the dismay of her family, in search of a freedom she could only experience outside of the oppressive home she came up in. Now, after getting out into the harsh cruel world, she longs for the approval and affection from her parents that she had in her early years.
I could go deep into my own family history and share some of the horrors of coming up rosy, but, well… I can’t. Suffice it to say, I could want and want and be left wanting for something I’ll never have, or I can just stop wanting anything from much of my family.
At some point it becomes painfully obvious to many that the have is not as good as the want. And shit, if the want is this painful, than who wants an even more painful “have?” We can tidy our houses, clean behind the couch. Get all the garbage out of the shed and clear the decks. We can clean behind the fridge and cook for a couple days… But when they get here… Parents rarely deliver the result of our wants.
Because the wants are unreasonable for the most part.
For some reason or another, each and every one of us feels lack. When we reach out to the people who bore us this opportunity to play on planet earth, for some kind of support, it is not a surprise to find that they have no clue how to give it to us. They still have not figured out how to make it in this world; still trying to understand why their parents never gave them what they wanted either.
When a small child goes to the beach, they are ready, excited and full of expectation for a wonderfully expansive day. As well they should be. A day at the beach is filled with endless possibilities. Freshness with every wave.
But try to find that same experience in the sandbox, and it brings different results. Most kids do their best to work with the sand they have, and even find great enjoyment with the same sand in that sandbox… seeing all the possibilities.
As an adult, It becomes more difficult to find fresh new life in the same old sand… which pales in comparison to the the vastness of the ocean and the beach that leads to it. We could do some learning from the kids in the sandbox. Create castles and enjoy the time in imagination. But at some point, let the beach and the ocean be the playground.