Saturday, May 28, 2011

Missouri vs. North Carolina

Do you know what it feels like to be detached from your family?  Maybe to feel like you don't belong, or even on some days, like family doesn't really even exist?  Who are these people that live thousands of miles away from me, and who I feel the need to call regularly and who I will always love unconditionally? 

These are the people I spent the first 18 years of my life with.  Day in and day out, and yet in the last 9 or 10 years, I see them only on occasion.  Now a-days I am lucky if I see them once a year.  Family is a funny thing.  At least mine is. 

Moving first to Wisconsin, and then later to North Carolina was never a difficult decision for me.  Many would consider their families and toil over the thought of living so far away.  Perhaps I was self-centered, or maybe I just knew they would always be there, but it never occurred to me what moving away from home would do to the relationship I have with my parents and my sisters and brother.  So of course, my pain is no fault of theirs, only my own. 

I absolutely love my life in North Carolina and I feel so blessed to be here.  My husband and I are incredibly happy, we have an amazing church family, fantastic jobs, our friends here are first class.  I love my home, my gym, my running trails, my community.  All these are things I never really had in Missouri.  Overall my quality of life is wonderful in North Carolina, and I always consider Missouri and wonder if I could ever find all of this back there.

Of course, that would make the assumption that a quality life is possible without your family.  And is it really?  What am I missing out on that I am unaware of day to day? 

How about seeing my amazing nephew grow up?
He went from that to this in what felt like overnight!
Now he is a stunning young man who is getting ready to enter kindergarten in the fall!
I've even missed watching my little brother grow up!  I never got to see him go to prom or leave for college.
I didn't even get a chance to see his first dorm room, or attend a football game where he was part of the marching band.  In fact, I just realized that I didn't even attend his high school graduation.  And along that same note, I didn't attend my little sister's college graduation!

My little sister and I used to be inseparable.  When I moved to Wisconsin- and even more so when I left for a permanent move to North Carolina, I lost my best friend.
We lost that spark that used to exist between us.  The inside jokes, the laughs, the cries.  I don't even know her husband well, and prior to their wedding had only met him a handful of times.

But that's not all, my parents can probably count on their hands the number of times they've seen my husband.  Just the other day it was mentioned to me by a family member how she doesn't really feel like she knows him well.  How can this be?  How can the person who I spend every single day with not be well known to my other family, those I used to spend ever single day with?  How is this fair?

One of my biggest sorrows is my relationship with my older sister.  Since college we have never been super close, and now would be an amazing time to have her more in my life.  She is married and has a child, and she could be a close confidant.  Unfortunately, when I moved our lives couldn't have been more dissimilar and so we had little in common.  Our lack of relationship then, has translated into a lack of relationship now.
And then there are my parents.  The ones I am probably furthest from at this point in my life.  When I was asked to produce a photo of my dad the other day (so he could be named "Larry of the Day" for a local guitar shop in town all I could find was this one...
Of course this is an amazing photo and very classic of my dad.  The problem is that this is the last photo I have probably taken of my dad and it exists from over 5 years ago!  He is probably the one I talk to on the phone the most.  But despite our frequent conversations, there is still a gap and it wrenches my heart.  Every time the family gets together and they think to call me to tell me how I am missed, in only hurts worse.

My mom and I have been distant for some time and this is the one family relationship that hurts the most to think about.  I miss her, and I badly want to have a strong mother-daughter relationship and we are at a loss.  The distance doesn't aid us.  My mom is a strong woman and I could learn a lot from her about compassion and strength and yet we find it hard to communicate regularly.
Sometimes it is that way.  Easier not to call, not to think, not to feel.  If I miss them, then I hurt.  I see a photo like the one below and that is the image I have in my mind:
Them sitting there, arms crossed, looking at me, as if I'm the outsider and I don't fit into their mold.  I chose this.  I moved.  And now I don't feel like I belong anymore.  They don't make me feel this way; when we do talk and see each other they are excited and fill me in on their lives.  But because I am not there, I make myself feel this way. 

What is the answer?  Continue living in North Carolina, missing my family badly, wishing we still had that family bond? 
Of course, time doesn't stand still at home...and things are not the same.  This photo above is from one of the last times I saw my family altogether.  We will just call this BD...before divorce.  I hear that all of them still get together at times, but would it ever be like this?  Would we be able to sit on the couch and all be happy?  Were we even all happy then, or just smiling for a photo-op?  Who knows?

Why am I divulging this information today?  Well this morning I started to get excited about an upcoming opportunity to fly home to see my family.  Unfortunately it was met with less enthusiasm than I anticipated.  And now that I am truly considering it, I wonder if going home is really what I want as well.  It seems the longer I wait to return for a visit, the harder it becomes.  For me and for them.  I understand that I caught them off guard this morning, and I do understand that they would really love to see me, and that they love me.  So maybe it is just me now...wondering if going home would be harder than its worth.  It would require me to miss them again, to miss all the special events I haven't been home for.  To try to fit into their mold, and possibly fail.  I would also have to accept that my parents are getting a divorce and be faced with it head on. Something I'm not eager to pursue.

Maybe staying in North Carolina is just easier. 


  1. I've been reading your blog for a couple of days and I really enjoy it. I could totally relate to today's post. My family moved around a lot when I grew up. I have four sisters, and although we were close growing up, we all live great distances apart. I rarely talk to two of my sisters, not because we don't love eachother, it's just that distance takes over. Very heart felt post. Love you blog!

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words and letting me know that I am not alone in this!