The Crunchy Granola of Imperfection

Making sense of pain and loss in nutty families, inspired by the perspective of Jeanneatte Walls, author of The Glass Castle.

Crazy lives, imperfect families.

With the passing of my Grandma and both of my Grandpas, along with the slow and steady realization that my Dad will never choose to do anything to heal himself of his pedophilia, I have grieved. Hard. My grandparents were bedrocks of stability for me. I adored my Dad growing up, and admired no-one more than him – closing the door on my relationship with him has been like a living death and shredded part of my spirit.

It is so hard to make sense of things that I don’t understand, that I can’t grapple with, that I have no answers for, that my heart hurts over.

But it’s starting to dawn on me that we don’t actually need answers. Or rather, I don’t. I don’t need to know why my Dad will choose to remain a pedophile and refuse counseling and help to heal himself so that he can have a relationship with me and our family again. I don’t need to hurt over any of that. I don’t need to remember painful pieces of the past, and I don’t need to feel bereft of stability now that my Grandma and Grandpas are gone.

I also don’t need to blame anyone, even myself. Maybe mostly myself.

I can move forward, that’s what I can do.

I take all the ridiculous, fun and delightful moments of growing up with my free-spirited, out-side the box mom and my hysterically funny, intelligent and charismatic dad and enjoy those memories. The bad stuff doesn’t negate the good and the good doesn’t negate the bad – they simply both exist and it’s okay. It’s okay that they are both there.

I can be thrilled that they taught me to be so resourceful, work hard, be unafraid to admit my mistakes, ask questions, be curious, love the world and take risks. I can be thankful to my Mom for introducing me to Donna Summer, to my Dad for my love of long walks. Being grateful for being raised on crunchy granola doesn’t mean that everything is perfect, but it’s shining the light on what is good. And shining the light on what is good doesn’t mean that the bad isn’t there; it’s just focusing on what I want the light to fall on.

The Glass Castle is a book by Jeannette Walls. Her parents were way crazier than mine ever were! And I love the way she writes. She’s simply telling her story – the good and the bad, bound together with love. It helped me see how with families like mine (families that are more than slightly different from most families are), nothing has to be an either/or. I don’t have to blame my parents for whatever went wrong, just as I don’t have to not celebrate what went right. Things are working out. I have my own story that I am moving forward with. And ultimately, we are the authors of the story of our own lives: it’s up to us all to write what we want, and choose the points we want to highlight.

I am so sad that I’ve lost my Grandma and my Grandpas. But I’m trying to take the pieces of the stability that I had with them and create it with my kids. I’m dancing more, because when I dance, I remember Grandma and it makes me feel like she is right there with me. I am looking up information on life insurance and investing, because I want to create a solid financial future for my kids. I want to be there for them like Grandpa Jack was for my brother Dana and I. I take greater care with my housework and look forward to planting my flowers soon, both which help me remember my Grandpa Knobby. I always think of him when I fold towels.

My Dad, well, he is who is he is, right? And the choices he makes are his, too. Acknowledging that he’s got some big problems that I don’t want to be around doesn’t mean that we didn’t have some pretty fantastic times growing up, and that I will probably miss him every day for the rest of my life.

I feel freer than I have in a long time with this perspective. 

It’s kind of liberating to just let things be; to not push the past to one side or the other in an attempt to reconcile memories in tidy ways. It’s liberating to give up on making sense of things that I can’t.

It’s liberating to allow myself to appreciate the fun stuff that happened.

I don’t even know if any of this makes sense to you, but thanks for bearing with me, because it’s liberating to even talk about it a little.

 

 

*****
photo credit: Mount Granola via photopin (license)

 

Meriah
Meriah Nichols is teacher and artist who lives in a yurt off the grid. She is deaf, has 3 kids (one with Down syndrome) and a lot of chickens. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done. She likes her tea Earl Grey and hot.
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@meriahnichols

#deaf mom, teacher & #disability activist, living in a yurt #offthegrid. 3 kids (1 with #downsyndrome), a camera and a lot of chickens. Never a dull moment
Did you SEE this??? I am shocked, to be honest. It reeks of invasiveness in the most personal possible way. https://t.co/tkXaPX2dfm - 7 hours ago
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4 Comments

  • Wow. I admire your strength in that you shared all this with “us”. I will be thinking alot about this perspective as I am one to compatrmentalize shit, i.e. Good or bad end of storey. I am very new to your blog. I have an eight year old with down syndrome live on a farm and am opinionated and chatty too.

  • I’m new to your blog — I came to it because of your posts about disability and keep coming back because of the writing! And this post really resonates with me as I do my own sorting. Reading the Glass Castle years ago put some of these same thoughts into my mind. I love that you cited it here!

    • Thanks for coming back. That makes me feel good.
      The Glass Castle sure was powerful – I doubt I would have picked it up on my own, so I’m grateful to the book club that I’m in for choosing it!

I'm opinionated, friendly & chatty... I hope you are, too