I was feeling alone. Even though I am surrounded by my little people all day every day, I was feeling alone. I was missing extended family, I was missing my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. I was missing my sisters. I’ve been moving farther and farther away from my family since I was a child. The divorces that are my mothers story taught me to move away from the people I love with little emotion. That’s a harsh sentence, but it is true. As I look back, I can see how we physically moved away time after time while she chased after her truest self. It became quite easy to create friendships and then end them as we moved on to the next town. More than physically moving on, her moves taught my soul not to get attached, not to think this place or that friendship would last. I also learned that family is something that can be fractured and put back together many times and still hold strong.
Something that I never knew until I went through my own divorce, was that parts of family are lost and not put back in when two people break apart. I suppose I knew how I had been affected by my mothers choices, but I’d never really thought much about them. When I was a child I easily forgot the friends and family who I no longer saw, I walked farther down the road and knew they were back there, perhaps having taken a left when I went right. Then, in my own divorce I lost my mother for a time, she didn’t agree with my choice or the way I was living. She decided, in her anger at me, that I was wrong and that she would not be there for me. Though she has moved on from the hurt my decision caused her, I still struggle with her betrayal and have a hard time relating to her, she is a fracture, and when she is with me I feel the ache more intensely. This break that has been poorly repaired still hurts, but I’ve realized it is not the cause of my sadness.
As I sat in the stillness and I thought about why I was feeling so alone, so empty, so lost. I thought about the road that has brought me to this exact place in life, I was looking back at those turns that were right for me, but that left people I loved behind. Or perhaps it was the fork in their road that took them away from me. It came to me that another piece of what I was missing was the extended family that I had in my previous marriage. Specifically, I was missing my former sisters-in-law. I did a lot of life with these women, the loss of them was great and it broke me in places that I have ignored for a long time. Let me be clear, I don’t want to go back to the small, helpless girl I was then. I’ve become too much and know myself far too well to want that. I now love a man who has shown me how to find my worth. What I miss from that place and time is his sisters. I know that I have my own, but they are far away physically while his live near me, yet are on roads I can’t get to from here.
When I left him, I left people I loved deeply. It was all too easy for me to take that hard right to what was best for my very soul, and leave these people at a rest stop on the highway. While I missed them immediately, ached for their support and friendship, I knew it was lost to me. I chose right, they followed him to the left. It was easy to look at the loss as I had so many times before; as leaving school friends all of my life, as walking away from people I called family. This had become second nature to me and I did not think twice about it at the time. I thought I’d get past it, and I did. Most days. But there are mornings that leave me hoping I’ll run into these women at the grocery store.
This seems messed up doesn’t it? I mean, how can I have so easily cut all of these people out of my life? It doesn’t make sense to me even now, so many years later. Obviously I didn’t deal with those losses well because I still feel them after all of this time, but I can clearly remember turning away. Choosing to not reach out to them, not even hope that I could remain friends with these women. I assumed that it would be like it had been when I was young, a clear break and then the setting of a new course. Trusting these sisters and friends were still out there, just on a different road, has not been enough. I know that I will never again have these same women, that same extended family. I ache for it, but I understand why it must be this way. I think I will always miss them though, my own sisters, my former sisters, friends I’ve lost because of the direction I was headed.
I miss being surrounded by family, in fact I have spent the last few years trying to build friendships to fill the spaces left by lost sisters. It’s hard. Not just to find women to do life with, but it’s hard when it seems no one understands or would understand or could ever get why they are so needed in your life. That there is this gaping space inside of you that longs to be filled with the easy friendship of a sister. It is hard for me to put into words, this wanting to have a built in group of people to do life with. If you have close family or dear friends then I suppose you know what I mean, I’ve had it at different points in my life and I am aching for it in this season.
I do look forward in hope, I have five kids now in this blended up family of ours. They are sisters and brothers that I pray will always have each other physically close. I pray too that they continue to grow closer relationships as the little ones grow older. That they want to be close to each other, that they want to spend time together, that they miss the crowded dinner table enough to come home for spaghetti and meatballs on a Tuesday night. I get glimpses of it already, it is beginning. I hope that we have created the place they will want to come back to when they are all grown. I hope this for selfish reasons too, not just because I want the closeness for them, but because I want to have these people around me. I want them at my table, crowding into my living room, making chaos in my house. I miss it so much now, but my children offer hope of having it in the future or at least the hope of providing it for them.
I wonder this morning; over lost family, sisters who have moved away, sisters who I have moved away from. As I think about the friendships I have, I wonder if any of them will ever fill the empty place left by sisters. Have I put up too many road blocks to get close enough to let them fill the holes? I will have to keep working on myself, because of this deep need inside of me. For now I will be present here, feeling the loss and trying not to brush it aside. I want to feel what I’ve left to become who I am, to examine the parts that I most miss. I think that in remembering, I will work more diligently to create authentic connections. Which will in time begin to fill this part of me back up.