Tag Archives: support

be there

My guilty pleasure is watching Real Housewives of Anywhere, no matter how trashy or how silly the show is. I do not watch television to edify myself.

And so this morning I was thinking about ashy feet and how nice Kandi Burruss‘s skin is, and how she’s my favorite housewife of Atlanta. She’s short, smart, and ambitious. But I thought, “I can’t understand how she defends her mother.” She broke down in tears a week or so ago when confronted by her best friend and boyfriend. She defended her mother saying how she knew her mom would always be there for her. Obviously I can only speculate based on the show, but I thought, “But she’s not there for you, Kandi. She’s ripping you away from the people you love.” (Yes, I have really deep thoughts in the shower.)

Then it sort of struck me: I always have said that if I got into trouble, my father would be there for me. And yet, I have no evidence that he would be there for me. He has not been there for me. He even made up excuses not to attend my high school functions. He does not support me emotionally and has not supported me financially since I turned 18. Right before we moved to Australia, I asked him if he would be willing to send me things like over the counter medicine if I needed them, and I offered to pay him through PayPal. He blatantly said he thought that was not a good idea. Why would I think he would be there for me?

Do any of you have a Hoarding Parent who is truly there for you when you need something? I am thankful I have never honestly needed something from either of my parents, though it would be comforting to have emotional encouragement from either mom or dad without me asking or admitting I need it.

an HP you can rely on

Lately I’ve been thinking about living so far away from family and what I would do if tragedy were to strike here on the other side of the world. My brain can’t help but go down all the worst possible paths just to give me some equilibrium in the present. And when confronted with the worst possible scenarios, my immediate thought is almost always, “I’d want to be close to my family.”

Then I take a deep breath and realize how ridiculous that is. The unavailable family support system is one of the many contributing factors to my ability to live almost anywhere in the world. There was almost nothing to tie me down until I met D. and started a family with him. Still, I think rather longingly, “I’d like to be close to my family.”

Throughout my early adulthood, I always had the thought that no matter how much I messed up, my dad (the HP) would be there for me. This was rather backwards on my part, since every time my thoughts did not align with his, I was treated to open judgment, silent treatments, and other signs of lack of support. When financial needs arose, he always said he wished he had the money to help me but he just didn’t have it. Something in me still clung to the thought that he was there for me, that he was always there for me, because when my mother finally left him when I was 12 or 13 (I’ve never been able to work out when it really happened), he was there and she was not. He has always been there physically, just not emotionally or psychologically. For a few years I was the one taking care of him, washing and ironing his clothes, cleaning the house, and cooking the meals.

While it’s tempting to look at the past with rose colored glasses, seeing my father was present in my life, I have to constantly remind myself that he was not a person I could rely on and he would not be reliable today. I don’t even want to think about which of my parents, HP or not, would be more present for me in an emergency. Thoughts I can’t bear to follow.

A question for you other Children of Hoarders: did (do) your parents also create the myth of being always there for you but never really reliable? How hard has it been for you to accept the reality of their availability?

childhood memories

S. is now two and a half, and as we sat on the front steps this morning while I was drinking my coffee, she asked me where her pumpkins went. October was a long time ago, yet she remembered that one pumpkin had lost its stem and one had fallen down the steps when she accidentally pushed it, and it cracked. How long does such a memory last without photos or other support to trigger it in our minds? Will all of that evaporate when we move, or will it stay with her?

losing homeland

I finally tracked down the Marie Cardinal quote regarding her unexpected loss of her homeland. It’s both better and not as sufficient as I remembered it. I quote the original French from Les Pieds-Noirs (Belfond, 1988) followed by my translation.

Marie Cardinal in 1930 (from Les Pieds-Noirs)

Les années d’insouciance, celles de mon enfance, de mon adolescence, et les premières années de ma vie de femme… les premières amours…le premier enfant… Le poids de cette légèreté, de cette beauté, de cette tendresse, de cette inconscience ! Peut-être que cela palpite toujours en moi parce que je n’ai jamais quitté ces images pour toujours, jamais je ne les ai rangées dans un tiroir ou une valise, jamais je n’ai regardé la terre de ma jeunesse en me disant que je n’y serais plus chez moi. La dernière fois que j’en suis partie, je ne savais pas que c’était la dernière fois. J’étais venue de Grèce où j’enseignais au lycée français de Thessalonique. Enceinte de huit mois, incapable de voyager en avion dans l’état où j’étais, j’avais méandré soixante-dix heures à bord de l’Orient-Express qui prenait des allures de diligence, puis j’avais vogué vingt heures sur un paquebot, pour venir, comme une tortue, mettre au monde mon enfant sur mes plages. Je n’imaginais pas qu’un petit venu de mon ventre puisse voir le jour ailleurs que là… Ensuite je suis repartie avec ma fille dans mes bras, c’était l’été, je reviendrais pour Noël. Je ne savais pas que, désormais, je n’aurais plus de maison. Je ne savais pas que ma terre ne serait plus jamais ma terre. (11-12)

The carefree years, those of my childhood, my adolescence, and the first years of womanhood … first loves … the first child … The weight of this lightness, this beauty, this tenderness, this unawareness! Perhaps it still pulsates in me because I never permanently left these images, I never put them away in a drawer or a suitcase, I never looked at the land of my youth while telling myself that I would never again be home. The last time that I left, I didn’t know it would be the last time. I had come back from Greece where I was teaching in a French high school in Thessaloniki. Eight-months pregnant, unable to travel by airplane in that state, I had meandered seventy hours aboard the Orient Express that ran at the speed of a stagecoach, and then I wandered twenty hours on a steam ship, so that, like a turtle, I could give birth to my child on my beaches. I couldn’t imagine that this child coming from my tummy could ever see the day somewhere other than there… Then I left again with my daughter in my arms, it was summer, I would come back for Christmas. I didn’t know that, from then on, I would no longer have a home. I didn’t know that my land would never again be my land.

Her lightness of being, her state of carefree existence, came from knowing her home would be there to support her. Once it was gone, she attached herself to the mental image and repeated it throughout her literary career. Les Pieds-Noirs is a photographic coffee-table book mixed with autobiography and history of the Pied-Noir people. It is, in many ways, a reproduction of the lost homeland, a surrogate and horribly insufficient space designed to protect the past from being forgotten.