Three weeks ago my great aunt, Weesie, died. She was the last of her generation, leaving behind her a small, loose-knit family: three brothers (my father is the eldest), four grandnieces and grandnephews, and one great-grand niece (my kid). Eight people. Yes, there are wives and more distant cousins, but really, the core of our family is down to the eight of us. The night after we buried my great aunt, the three brothers and I met together ostensibly to go over some business. But really that was an excuse to have a heart-to-heart talk.
Knowing no other way to get the conversation going, my younger, more provocative, uncle, Steve, mentioned casually that I had thought our aunt had had romantic feelings for her best friend, Frances. My older uncle, Sandy, let out an emphatic "no." And then all eyes were on me. I realized, somehow, that Steve was trying to start an open conversation and that he was punting to me in order to do so. I knew this conversation about Aunt Weesie and her best friend Frances was not actually about them. It wasn't about them or about me. It was about unearthing the truths about our family. Aunt Weesie's sexual orientation was beside the point.
The point was that the three brothers don't talk. To each other. To anyone.
Once we dispatched of the subject of Aunt Weesie's friendship to Frances, the brothers started sharing memories of 'catching' Aunt Weesie in 'compromising' situations with men whom they did not know. Aunt Weesie answering the door in her bra and skirt with a shirtless man in the background. Aunt Weesie in bed with a man. Never talked about. Never addressed. Just random meanderings through this woman's life. Steve talked about wanting to make sure that Aunt Weesie had sexual relations when he was a teenager and Aunt Weesie assuring him that she had experience in this area.
One by one the brothers revealed their cards to the relative surprise and relief of the others.
And then, they moved onto their mother (my grandmother), Judy. And their separate stories about her. It seemed the three brothers were mostly informed about eachothers' lives through the eyes of their mother. She shaped each of her son's views on the others and their wives. And now, eight years after her death, almost to the day, the 'boys', now men, were sharing their versions of each other with each other. They discovered that their mother had very different versions of her children depending upon which one she was talking to. And then Steve said, "I'm trying to see you, Dave, through my own lens, and not through mom's."
And I wondered: how often are we seeing people through other people's lens' and not our own. How often do we out-source our versions and opinions of people based on who is feeding us information, based on who we trust, based on who is easier to get the information from? I think I've spent much of my life seeing my father through my mom's eyes - and, believe me, it's not a pretty picture she paints. The four days I got to spend with him, separate from my mother, were very informative about who he is.
My history with my father has been strained and filled with disappointment. But now I feel I'm pulling away from that very long chapter of our history into a new one.
Another reason for this stems from something else my Uncle Steve said. He shared that his mother (my grandmother) always felt she deserved more, she deserved a better house, in a better neighborhood, with better friends and more money... And then he confessed that he has felt that same way his whole life. That things should be different/better. And I was struck through the heart when he said this. His words and candor shed such a bright light on my innermost feelings, it almost hurt, physically. I saw myself in his words and experience. And I said that my dad also felt this way and that I have felt this way my whole life.
Thus: I AM ENOUGH. The poet she doth protest too much.
For who would fight so hard to champion a way of thinking of oneself, but a person who needs the message the most? I have never been satisfied, sated, at ease with where I am or what I'm doing with my life. I have always felt that I deserved or needed to have more recognition, more money, more more more everything. And yet, New Year after New Year comes and goes and the more never comes.
This New Year, coming into 2016, I breathe so much more easily - having recognized this compulsion and chosen to let it go with intention. I don't need more and I don't want more. I can have some more of some things, if I want them and if the timing is right and things work out for me. That's good. But I don't feel like I have this monkey on my back, riding me, to do more for no certain reason. This is relieving.
And, truly, I am. enough.
The veritable second shoe dropping has occurred. And I am experiencing more peace in myself than I have in a long time.
Thank you, Aunt Weesie, for inspiring the brothers to talk to each other and thank you to them for allowing me to be a part of it. It is an honor to be part of this family.