Grief Series; “Chosen Family”

Chosen Family

In instances of disbelief and heartache, we get caught up in the temporary horror or grief of our circumstances without the ability to dissect what we are going through with a clear mind. Oppositely, sometimes we go through instances that are absolutely horrific and downplay them because we have high hopes for change. When the people we love turn out to be differently than they portrayed, both of these instances can happen simultaneously. As we get older we forget the fresh wounds and the feelings we once felt, allowing us to see the things for what they were without the feelings involved… but as we get older we can also start to give people excuses when they don’t necessarily deserve them.

This is a story of someone who had a ‘pretty damn good childhood’ and an awesome dad in their own words. He was cool, funny, supportive, and although Madalyn’s parents were divorced, everyone had a pretty good relationship. Mads always called herself a ‘daddy’s girl,’ and had a necklace that stated it proudly. However, with people come flaws, and specifically with people we idolize, hold near and dear to our heart, or look up to, these flaws can really destroy everything we knew. Whether they are struggling themselves, or struggling with others, vices can expose the dark sides of us when we are working through our own problems.

Burning the Past as You Burned Mine

Around 15 Madalyn got burned, metaphorically, by her family, but mostly by her father. Alcohol and anger became a combination that would utterly destroy this relationship. Little pointless accusations caused a severe consequence that ended up involving police, a police report, and Madalyn to move away from her father. That night Mad’s ended up with a black eye, popped blood vessels in her eye, damage to her ears because of ripped out earrings, and a concussion. In a flash of a moment the relationship was soiled, and the trauma and grief of what once was, began.

The actions of a man broke up this family for quite some time. Navigating through high school, family issues and the world – this is quite a lot to bear for a teenager. Madalyn found herself distrusting family and friends, but really clung onto her dogs. She found herself relying on their existence alone since their pure hearts wouldn’t disappoint her.

Madalyn stayed quiet for several years, feeling like the black sheep of the family, but eventually found healing and began to speak out on her behalf. Through this time she often wondered what life would have looked like if everything would have been resolved or if those instances of abuse wouldn’t have happened. What would life have looked like without this dark cloud?

It’s this important type of story that allows us to talk about grief in all its forms. Grief is not just death. Through years of going through life having someone avidly not choosing you, having you question your upbringing and have good memories covered with a dark night, or feeling like you’ve lost your entire family, identity, self, and place of safety… that is also massive grief. But… life doesn’t stop.

Mad’s found Phil, who’s story I covered prior to this one, who also endured grief of his own. Their stories are different but similar in a way. They found one another to make their own chosen family. They chose one another, they help and support one another. They lost their dads but differently. Phil adored his father, but lost him physically, while Madalyn’s past self adored her father but lost him in an entirely different way, though he is still alive.

Madalyn and her father since this have reconnected, but it wont ever be the same.
How could it be?
That question alone, is also an example of grief. When one instance shadows over an entire duration of trust and experiences built up over time – gosh, it’s so hard to overcome.

When people pass away we tend to re-write their bad moments with clouds, happiness, joy and admiration – but the truth is people are full of flaws. We all have moments we are not proud of. We all make mistakes. But sometimes it’s harder to overcome these valid ill feelings when people are still alive. It’s hard to want to connect with people that have hurt us mentally or physically.

I don’t believe you have to forgive everyone, I don’t believe you have to forget anything that happened either.. and sometimes people don’t deserve either of those things. We tell ourselves we should forgive and forget for our own peace of mind, but I’m here to say you don’t have to do either. You can continue living with complete contentment on your end, knowing you didn’t do anything to deserve the hate. You can live your own life choosing to put energy in the people, or animals, you love that show you that same love back. You can create bonds and show yourself what self worth is, and when you eventually leave this earth you will know that you did all you could to show those that you love around you, how much you loved them.

You can cover up these bad memories and rewrite over them for your own peace of mind. You can invite these people to big events and have them involved in your best memories but they don’t have to be the main character.

cover up to pursue on…

In the words of Taylor Swift [lol]

“It isn’t love, it isn’t hate
It’s just indifference.”

Thanks for sharing your brave story with me Madalyn.

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