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Days Like Today

...are hard for me.

Family oriented days. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother's Day...

Especially Father's Day.

Partly because I never got a chance to have a family (i.e. kids) of my own. And partly because I never felt like I was a real part of any family I did have.

I didn't always want to be a dad. Then for awhile I really did; when the option was removed from us, I tried to revert to not-wanting and was mostly successful. Mostly. At times I'm hit with a wave of longing so intense that it can bring me near to tears. Such pangs are mercifully brief. At other times, when I see a kid acting out, I am fiercely glad I didn't become a father, because how do parents put up with that crap? The dominant parenting style today really irritates the hell out of me: the kids run the house, backtalk their parents, and actions no longer seem to have consequences. I think I would have been the kind of dad a kid loved, then hated for awhile, then grew to love again. But I'm not sure. It's a life not lived.

I've had to pick and choose things to take out of my childhood, and things to leave behind. In some ways I am an eerie echo of the figures who raised me; in some ways I've deliberately taken a radically different path. But even running as far as I can in the opposite direction hasn't saved me from some of the blight.

My family is made up of really wonderful people...the ones I know, at any rate. I don't know many of them, and I seem somehow --

I've never been good at the ties that bind. I seem to be much better forging new connections and maintaining those than I am keeping faith with the pre-existing, familial relationships.

I'm not sure why that should be. If I had to hazard a guess, it would be that new people grow to understand me, while I'm not sure the closest ones from childhood ever really did.

I had no siblings, so sibling relationships are beyond strange to me: I love you, yes, but I hate you, too. Beyond that, I always felt subtly unwelcome in the homes of my stepfamily--my mother was Not Good Enough for my stepfather and that was expressed in a variety of ways that redounded on me. Another step-parent outright hated me (and all children, for that matter). My in-laws never seemed to know what to make of me, nor I them, and while I respect and love them in the abstract, day-to-day relations are virtually nonexistent. That's the same with...pretty much everybody who is family outside this house.

It's not what I intended, even though to look at the ways I've contributed to this state of affairs you could hardly be blamed for thinking so.

I look at close-knit families with a bewildering mix of emotions from cool disdain (that's gotta be fake, they must be presenting, surely there are the familiar cracks and fractures and they're just hidden for appearance sake?) to wistfulness tinged with a species of intense envy (I want that for myself and I have no idea how to even begin to get it). I see people effortlessly fitting into families on days like today and I just feel so lost, so alone. I want to feel like I'm accepted. I've always wanted that feeling, and it comes so much more easily from friends than it ever did from any of my family. Reaching out doesn't work: I feel as if I am not allowed to be me. That's a stifling, choking, suffocating feeling I don't get from my friends, who unquestioningly accept me.

I don't know what to do. I don't know what not to do.

I don't know.


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