I Left My Heart in New Jersey




As I begin to contemplate forgiving my dad for being the
person he was and is, and consider letting go of my attachments to his and my
own pain and suffering, I realize that there are other strings tied into this
I realize I consider myself the glue of my family, and in
looking at letting go of that role, to allow them to their own paths, to allow
myself to fully own mine, I realize that I have reluctance to let go. My
attachment to my role as “glue” means I have fear that to release it is to
allow them to unglue, to fall apart… to allow myself to fall apart.
When we were growing up, my brother had an awful stutter, no
doubt in reaction to the anger displayed at home. So, I became his mouthpiece.
I became his interpreter, and we were connected.
When my mom fell into her deep depressions and the agony of
her chronic migraines, I became the one to open her bedroom curtains and help
coax her into the day.
And, perhaps, to the best of my ability, I tried to be the
ultimate good daughter for my father, so that I didn’t anger or strain him
beyond what he was emotionally capable of. Although, later, that plan was
failing, and so angering him was easier to do, since placating him was nearly
So, the glue. Give my brother voice, and protect him from
others who couldn’t understand him. Give my mom encouragement, and protect her from the world. And give my father the order and
conscription he wanted in a household that he obviously couldn’t keep together
by a rule of iron fist.
To release my role as his good or his fuck-up daughter, is
to release these other roles as well. It is to allow my brother to have his own
voice. To let him stutter. What kind of a sister can do that? Easily?
It is to allow my mom to have her insane work schedule that
leaves her laid out two days of the week, to let her manage her life and her
affairs, even if it makes me uncomfortable to hear about it.
The other thing is… this is the healthiest my family has
ever been. Ever. My mother is medicated and in a happy relationship. My brother
is thriving in his job and relationship. And, even my dad is in a relationship,
semi-retired in Florida. Every one is doing just fine. I don’t need to be the
glue anymore. I don’t need to be the puppet-master.
To consider releasing this role brings up the fear of losing
them, though, because as attached as I am to that role, as ingrained as it is
in me, what will our family dynamics look like without it/me? What will I be to
them, if I’m not their savior or chameleon? What will I be to myself?
Will I be as important? As loved? As necessary to the world?
Will it feel like being unmoored, or will it feel like being
I can’t know until I try. But there is no reason for me to
continue to play a role to an empty stage, or to, what?, try to get them back
to play their parts? That’s not what I want either.
If I am not the savior, who am I? If I am simply a daughter
and sister, how will I be loved or love them? What does detached love look like?

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