Second Best, But First Born

Tre: high school days.

I think about how crazy my upbringing was sometimes and there are bits and pieces that stir me up in ways that I cannot clearly understand or explain. 

I am a child of divorce. 

A further description: I am the eldest child from a divorced parents home who remembers so much more than her siblings and who has a lot more good memories of her Father to hold on to than her siblings as well, except her youngest, which is her sister. 

To be frank, I am head over heels about my kid sister. There is nothing (within my power) that I would not do for her. Being nineteen years older than someone gives you such a distinct perspective on life when there’s a need to share experiences and my kid sister comes loaded with questions. She’s an intensely intelligent young lady and I am not surprised by this. Often the saying in our family to her is, “You are so much like Tre.” Or different variations of that phrase and I want to shout to everyone telling her this to stop!

While I’m appreciative of their comparison, I see the dismay and feel the worry from my sister as she struggles to make a name for herself. I am so proud of her. I do not know what it feels like to have a Father raise his daughter beyond twelve years. That connection has to be an intense one and my sister has that. She has had our Father since her birth and at the age of nineteen, he is still very involved in her life. My Father and I only recently began renewing a bond that fell from its pedestal when I was still in grade school and it is awkward, but we are both growing within this process. 

Tre: College Graduation Day.

Last year, my sister entered a University in close proximity to Atlanta, GA. The kid has a full ride, Presidential Scholarship and is excelling in every way possible. Again, I am not surprised. From the moment she began speaking, I could tell that she was going to press on in life in a way that could be considered unstoppable. I did not/ do not worry about her. Not in that realm. I had/have other concerns about her growth, like first heartbreak and how will she heal from that? But, those bridges have not yet formed, so we cannot cross them. 

What sparked this post? Our Father’s worry over her entering school for a higher education four hours away from them. Not within his immediate reach. My kid sister was sheltered. Someone’s eyes was always on her. I grew up quite independent and left for college at eighteen, worked full time, and never returned home. I have been out of school for fifteen years, however, last year, when my sister was beginning to make her path into an unknown world, my Father called me up frantic and nearly in tears. 

My cousin Chrissy & I. I’m the little one with the thick plaits.

“Tre! Hey. Hey.  Can I talk to you? Will you tell me about your college experience?” The question came as an instant gut-punch to me. I thought, “Now, you wanna know about my college experience?! You mean, the one you had no hand in, the one I struggled with, the one in which I worked full time and had classes full time, busted my face too many times to count regarding love because I had no MALE figure to point me in the right direction, the college experience that left me with debt after a lost scholarship?! THAT COLLEGE EXPERIENCE!” I thought these things, but I did not say them. I am good at pushing my feelings to the side in order to cater to someone else’s and I could tell my Father was hurting. The one child he truly raised was beginning to leave the nest. It wasn’t a time for me to break fool on him. 

But, I did so after our phone call. I cried.  I thought about the many years I spent time giving myself to boys, men, girls, women, searching for that love I did not have from my Father, and I just broke down. I screamed. I shouted. And then, I thought about something my Father said before we ended the call and it helped me put things into a better perspective. “You were always so independent. You did everything fast; walked, talked, learned, and became an adult before your time. I did not have to worry about you. You had it altogether. I worry about your sister. She’s not like you in that aspect, baby. ” 

Tre: Christmas of ’82.

I knew what he was trying to say, but it didn’t make me feel any more loved. It actually made me feel like he had an idea of who I was but did not know I had to be who I was because of what I did not have, a Father. Parents do not know what they do to their children unless they’re told. They do not see us when our pain is most visible. In that moment of my breakdown, I felt second best. I felt as though my life was no longer a concern, I am grown, there’s nothing more to my growth that can be watered on me to help me grow even stronger, and I did not like that feeling. 

I have yet to tell my Father how his asking about my educational life so many years after it has taken place makes me feel and I doubt that I will. When you have voiced your opinion on so many things with one person and you get reactions that are often wrought with accusations and finger-pointing, you learn to just be quiet and accept it for what it is. It is a part of life that keeps me on my toes. Truthfully, I have to be. 

There will come a day when my sister will ask me of my college experience and I will tell her all that she wants to know. But, that day isn’t here yet. But, I will be ready when it arrives. 

38 thoughts on “Second Best, But First Born

  • Sweet Angel Woman. I can relate. God. You are so beautiful and yep. Sucks. So strange. Congrats to Your sister though. Your love for her is sooooo beautiful! And my dad was similar. Gone. Never had him. In my early twenties I bought a ticket to go see him and man! I was in therapy at the time…..was processing much and my entire intention was to give him a piece of my mind. The man who met me at the airport was broken. Stroke victim with a cane. Could not speak without stuttering horribly. His wife (the third) drove us home. He and I went out in his yard and sat on the grass. All I could do was cry. We both sat there sobbing. No words. I didn’t feel healed afterwards. I felt horrible but could not attack a man who was so broken. He knew. He KNEW. He took me the next day and bought me the only present he bought me my entire life. I left. Wrote letters he didn’t answer. Made calls that weren’t returned. My oldest sister, on the other hand, had a box of letters from him. Talked to him whenever she pleased. Moved in with him when she went to school. I was 2 when (Thank God!) he left….so perhaps that was the utter lack of connection. There were a handful of visits over the years, but I hated them. He was so anal and rigid. He was a product of a very violent home. He ran away to the Korean war at 17 ( I JUST learned this..last week….at age 54! What?) and fought on the FRONT lines underage. His dad went with him and signed him up. Crazy. He was violent in our home. I was too tiny to remember but have heard the stories from my older sisters and at 10 witnessed horrible violence he unleashed on my stepbrother while I was visiting. When I heard he died, many years later…in my late thirties…MUCH to my surprise….I cried. I had a glass of wine and put on some beautiful music. I told him to let this one, this life go. Just let it go. I told him I loved him and bore no grudges. And I meant it. It was so strange. But I did. Life is weird. And I hate this for You. It truly is painful to be shut out. There is no way around it. I’m stunned that he called You about Your sister. It’s so blind. OHHHHH! That reminded me! The only time in my life EVER I got a call from my father was when I was pregnant. And all he asked was was I going to give my child his last name or his name to carry it on. That was it. All he cared about and asked. Man. I’m talking WAY tooo much. But please know there are so many kindred spirits around You. It doesn’t make it easier but I swear to You time oddly does. I still am not sure how I let it all go. But one day….it was gone. Just gone. When I think of him now My heart truly sends him love. And I never would have thought that was possible so many years ago. Sending You hugs and sincere apologies for going on. You hit a nerve!🤣❤️🤗☀️

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    • I am blessed to have had my Dad around when he was around full time. I had him for 12 years in our home. I was intensely connected to him then. But things faded as I got older and he spent most of his time with his new family. I would not trade my experience for anything.

      I appreciate you sharing. Thank you for reading. May you continue to heal and be well. Godspeed.

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  • This is so moving, Tre. I imagine it was difficult to write. I’m not sure that I can offer anything that hasn’t already been said but I hope that your sister does come when the time is right.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m just blessed. Through it all, Deb. I really cannot complain. The sting comes from time to time, but overall, I am blessed. Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Tre, your photographs made me smile and I feel your sorrow about the parental neglect. I was told something similar and had to learn much the hard way as neither was available. How lovely to have this special bond with your little sister. Love to you dear lady, Faith xo

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  • Thank you for sharing this, trE. I hope someday you can have that conversation with your father, and that possibly he’ll come to understand how he made you feel. It’s totally understandable, your hurt.
    Really enjoyed seeing the beautiful pictures of you, by the way. 😊❤️

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  • This is so powerful and moving, Tre. The combination of your strength, vulnerability, intelligence, and emotional depth make you the unique person you are.

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  • *hugs* And through it all, you have the smile and the light. I felt so much hurt in this piece and thought, “How can this happen to anyone?” It is strange how our loved ones can hurt us most with an ill-phrased praise and absolve themselves with the same praise. Your story reminds me of a quote by Johnny Depp, “People cry, not because they are weak. It is because they’ve been strong for too long.” Your story is a testimony of this quote, Tre.

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  • I second what Ahadi said!! That ‘you’re so independent’ in lieu of owning up to not being there and respecting that you have needs too is HURTFUL. I thought this piece was so brave and raw. Love you much!

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  • This is so honest and deep with feeling. From how I can relate, some of these emotions run through a lifetime to be resolved. So much deep internal self work to go through until we can rise above and have real conversation about what really happened. I truly hear you Tre.

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  • Too often, girls and women hear: “If you weren’t so strong and smart, I would have helped/loved/supported you.” People usually say this to avoid dealing with their own sh*t and how they screwed up. Instead of owning it, they use her strengths against her (as if she hasn’t been hurt enough). People have to stop telling our girls and women that they have to strive to be *less than* who they are to be worthy of love/help/support, etc. No parent should think such thoughts – let alone express them to a child (of any age). (IMHO.)

    Your piece spoke to me in more ways than I anticipated, Tre. I found myself yelling out loud and I don’t tend to do that sort of thing. This is a powerful, powerful piece. I felt your strength, wisdom, struggles, and heart throughout it. Thank you so much for writing it and sharing it with us. I have a feeling that it will stay with me for a while (as it should).

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    • Ahadi, hello. I am always so moved by what you bring to the table in discussion. You are one of the reasons why I am not afraid to share my thoughts.

      I’d I had a dime for the many times I’ve heard from a young man or man I was attracted to, “You’re too independent.” Or… “But, you’ve got it all under control, what’s left for me?” I’d be rich. Outward appearances make them believe that those of us striving to keep ourselves afloat do not need love, care, appreciation, and relationships too and that is so far from the truth that it isn’t funny.

      Thank you for reading and responding.

      Like

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