Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Part of the "House of Pain" generation

It is strange how cognitive I was at a very early age. My earliest memories were from the age of two. I'm not sure the reason behind it. My IQ isn't genius like RLB's, but above average at about 125.

I could tell you with vivid detail everything around me in my childhood bedroom as I sat alone, at the age of six, contemplating questions like; "Why am I me?" "Why was my soul given this life?"

Shortly before this my mother sat me down to have the talk. I knew the talk was coming. I overheard her and my father discussing some things a few nights before. Though I didn't know any other divorced parents, I knew this was the end of our family. Though I knew it was coming, I, of course, yelled and cried, "Why...why...why?" I don't remember much of what she said to answer that question. In that instant I hated her. Before she let me get away from her she said this, "Don't tell anybody."

No-fault divorce statutes had been in our state for just four years and damned if my parents weren't going to be some of the first to implement it. The details of "why" are still relatively unclear to me. Any explanation I've received has been met by my cynical thoughts. I hold no grudges and have forgiven them but I will not concede their reasons as valid. They're not. Never were, never going to be. It can never be justified. The longer I am married to RLB, the more convicted I am. We have now been married longer than my parents were. We've been through a lot of tough times. I am not prideful in that we've worked through the challenges, I'm humble. I'm thankful and so very blessed.

It was months into second grade (1981) when one of my friends told me her parents were divorcing. I knew exactly what she was going through. We talked, cried, and consoled each other on the swing set. It started happening all around me. Young children were getting their hearts broke in record number as the divorce rate skyrocketed to its all time high.

I will always appreciate the families from my childhood church. They were quite used to seeing my sister and I dropped off at the front door and picked up afterwards. We rarely sat alone. Several different families would invite us to sit with them. Often times these families would arrange to pick us up for special services like during Lent or Vacation Bible School.

My dad had been gone from our house just a few short months when I awoke to another man's voice coming from my mom's bedroom. With rage I stormed out into the hall and paused at her door to see the two of them in embrace. I screamed at her and ran back to my bedroom slamming the door. She came in to try and console me. I told her I never wanted to see that man again. And, I didn't...see that man again.

The divorce became final and my parents went together to celebrate it, without us. They were going to be friends.

Along came another man. A salesman who had visited my mother's work. He was divorced with two children the same ages as my sister and I. And together we formed a new family, kind of. He claimed to be an atheist and took mom and his kids out to breakfast after they dropped us off at our church.

We had the typical challenges that a mixed family would have but we had a lot of really great times as well. I got two new grandparents out of the deal, who I loved dearly. New cousins and aunts and uncles were now in my life. I have many fond memories of large Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners and road trips to see far away family.

He was a strict man who used corporal punishment for misbehavior. We had lists of chores to do every day. The children were broke up in alternating teams of two. One team would be in charge of making dinner and the other had the clean up after. He had horses and dogs that had to be tended to. We cleaned the entire house, did all of the yard work and helped with hauling wood for the winter.

My mother carried with her a love and fear for men that were equal in proportion. It wasn't long, less than four years, that her fear overwhelmed her and another man and his family left our home. Gone also were the sister, brother, grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles.

I may be too harsh on my mother. She died twenty years ago and has no way to set the story straight if she would have desired to. I knew she had a lot of pain from her childhood. She wouldn't go to church with us because, "church makes me cry." I can muster all the compassion in the world. However I can not change my story.

I don't mean to shame anyone in telling my story, however if old wounds are opened, I strongly believe those need to be healed correctly. I also know I was not alone in being told, "Don't tell anyone." We were grandkids of the "We don't talk of such things" generation and children of the "ME" generation. We are a subset of generation X, we are the generation of "The Cat's in the Cradle." and "House of Pain."

There's a lot more to the story. I haven't even touched the real ugly yet. I'm working on it. Many of you know the next chapter of the story, you've lived it too. As is the general theme of my blog, my desire is to pass down to future generations the truth of their ancestors. But also to support marriage. I wish to implore those reading to get things right in their homes. Go to God to get healing of the wounds whether new or old. And fight for your marriage with desperate urgency.

It's time to rearrange the script once again.


  1. Serious post. I can't imagine how you must've felt. By the way, that was one of the better FAster Pussycat songs. They were hit or miss. I still have (and occasionally listen to) it.

  2. I also grew up with the don't tell atmaospere in my family. It was difficult because you were never allowed to say or show any feelings to anyone outside of the family. If there was a problem you just had to deal with it or lock it up. The one thing that I did learn from my parents was that you had to try to keep a marriage working. The people today do not understand how to work at a marriage. They try the easy way out. Life is difficult and if you want something good you have to work for it.


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