I’ve been talking to another blogger fourhillsfarm64 about the legacy of being a child who has grown up and lived with the long-term disease and death of a parent (or loved one).
I’ve covered some of my own thoughts and experiences on this in previous posts.
The outside calm and the inside crying
My father was disabled and horribly ill for most of my life, from the age of 10 to 45. I got so hardened to grief, shock, sadness.
I grew an emotional shell so that I could crawl, tortoise-like, through the everyday awfulness.
Yet a line of poetry, a word in a book, a certain song; hearing the echoes of a late evening train going away in the distance.
Then the shell might crack.
Then the stupid tears might soak my face and hair in silent senseless weeping.
Lying in my small box room, overwhelmed with a helpless, hopeless feeling that elsewhere, Life was happening.
That something important had been taken away from me, before I’d even got the chance to know what it was.
A shell can offer good hard protection in life. But it also hardened me to the misfortunes of others.
Where others see complete tragedy — a family divorce — a house sale falling through — a lost ring of sentimental value — I quite often think (only to myself, of course) “Meh – why are they so upset? It’s not like anyone’s DYING… … it’s not like anyone’s got an INCURABLE DISEASE or anything…”
Harsh but true of me. Although I don’t like to admit it.
I thought I was like Spock.
I mustn’t show emotion. Emotion equalled weakness. And weakness meant I’d be unable to carry on.
In my young adulthood it meant I was probably not a very good friend to those who needed my warmth and friendship.
It’s been hard for me to soften up, and to understand what I lost — and the shell I gained.
These days I can be moved to tears when I see or read about human kindness and compassion.
All it takes is friendly word at a sad moment. An unexpected offer of support. And I’m suddenly human after all.
But hey, thanks Spock. You are, and always will be, my friend.