tag : bright yellow-green apples: digging deep

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Sunday, May 22, 2005

digging deep

figure 45.3. family tree

I don't tend to do the whole confessional writing very well, or at least not directly. The poetry is all very tangential. But this must be done.

A couple of nights ago I was salvaging old paper from a bin bag, rubbish coming out of a periodic house clear-out. And I came across some letters that seemed interesting. But reading them shocked me totally. What I was reading was in fact a scattering of letters between my parents, from the time of their splitting up. It happened when I was very young, only just at school, and I have only one small fragment of memory about it. It's literally a blank in my mind, even though an implicit reality in my life, and something that's never been talked about. So reading what they both went through, the trouble and turmoil...I hadn't ever expected to be able to appreciate this in any real way - that could make sense to me, as someone who lives with tangled situations.

Maybe I shouldn't have read them at all, left the privacy to it. But somehow it gave me some answers that I needed. To see their real emotions and problems, that they were struggling with life and how best to live it...I've never resented them for what happened, but it's been a great unknown to me...this allows it all to rest at last, now that I have some small measure of context. I left the letters and tokens of the former love they had right there in the bin, it seems right not to cling onto these things of the past now that they've helped me so in looking to the future.

I've often been very ambivalent about those who rampage for 'family values', or definitive liberated free-for-all forms, any who might presume one form of family to be an unmitigated good or bad. I mean I don't want to get into cod psychology, but it's likely the split in such formulative years did me deep harm, and damaged me in many ways that I cannot possibly trace. Yet at the same time, me and Ben have four more pretty wonderful siblings by other subsequent parental combinations, who'd never even exist without the split. Blithe judgements of good an evil in relating - absolute rightness of one act in an abstract sense - seem to fall down in the light of reality. This kinda stuff is hard to describe, least of all to any of you who come from more 'stable' homes. I hope you'll forgive my indulgence in setting some of these mixed up things down here. A lighter touch will follow in due course.

Oh but another letter came up, which mum came down to show me, was much more obviously heartening. It seems my mum's granny thought she was bringing shame and disappointment for having me out of wedlock, and throwing her life away. She urged my parents to attend Chapel for my sake, and the sound moral environment of the household. Oh to be a part in scandal, we had a good laugh and the honour of it fair made my week!


Blogger Martin said...

Well, sounds to me like you're absolutely right.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Rach said...

Agreeing with Martin here! You needed answers to your questions and I think it's great that you got the oppurtunity to get the answers.


1:22 PM  
Blogger ash said...

ah yes, it's all somewhat difficult... I generally try to pretend that not meeting my father hasn't affected me. Consciously, it hasn't... it never really mattered to me. but i'm sure somewhere it does..

3:07 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

scandal! Love it- all about pride, innit?

10:32 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Thanks for the comments all of you, it's good of you to come forward and say summit on this. It's not summit that gets me emototionally, or at least not consciously so. Eeven as it did feel shot through with meaning. But the latter point obviously delighted my more contrary streak!

12:01 AM  
Blogger mary said...

s'not indulgence, not of the unnessecary navel gazing sort i tend to go in for, anyway. sometimes wrong things mean things go right eventually in a different way, kind of like you're saying. though things aren't usually right or wrong completely in any sense, there's big grey patches! good luck on interpreting that...anyway, mixed stuff is good, and it was really interesting to read of your thoughts etc. families are confusing things.

10:48 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

They are indeed. And with all due respect to mine, I think I need to get away for a while anyway. Being around here is nice, but sometimes it feels a bit claustrophobic and pressured. Probably exasperated by my being young and wishing to fleet around doing my own thing.

I suspect we can all find something that chimes in the boo of Genesis - the story of the archetypal dysfunctional family!

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Donna said...

I like your confessions best. Just as I appreciated the post about the tiny Buddha statue, I enjoyed this one as well. I too am a child of divorced parents. And, I'm divorced myself. No one every really expects when they get married that it will end badly - it just happens. I'm glad your discovery helped you resolve some issues in your mind. I don't think we ever truly know our parents. If we knew them too well, it might scare us.

8:18 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Thanks, that's a helpful reflection I hadn't considered before.

I would hope to know enough of my parents to be able to get on with them, and to appreciate them for who they are. Part of my problem may well be that my experiences with them have been fairly fragmented/potmarked by a sense of loss and seperation. I hope somehow to ensure that some of the same things I went through, and many others of my generation in my family (which seems to have been prone to divource and separation), don't happen for the next generation down.

Anyway, thanks for sharing a little of yourself - it's helpful to me to find other's stories from time to time, even if I find it hard to be open with myself in a personal way here.

4:00 PM  

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