Friday, April 18, 2008

Dear Birthday Fairy,

In 6 days I would love to see this sitting on my front porch:



Friday, April 11, 2008

An outsider in my own life...

This is an entry I've thought about for a while. Something that's a very real and a very hurtful part of my life. And today I heard a friend say she deals with the same thing I know I'm not alone in this.

23 years ago my parents got divorced. 23 years is a long time. One would think 23 years would be plenty of time for a person to heal from something. But I'm not sure that you heal from divorce. That's probably not true. But it feels true. I'm not healed yet. At least not completely.

One of the worst side effects of divorce though is the feeling of being an orphan, even though your parents are still in your life. My dad left me and my mom when I was just 4 years old. I have a vivid memory (like a silent movie in my head) of helping my dad pack his things. Obviously I had no idea that I was helping him rip my heart from my body...but hey, I was 4, right...what did I know? My dad married the woman he left my mom for about a year later and my mom married an emotionally detached work-a-holic about 1 year after that. So then I had 4 parents.

My step-parents have never loved me. They would probably argue that. But they would be wrong. I'm talking about real love...the kind of love that a parent feels for their child...the kind of love that makes you run in front of a moving car to save your kid from being run over...the kind of love that makes you dizzy with delight when you look in your child's face when they tell you they love you. They took me on, which is noble I guess. To marry a woman who already had 2 kids and to take on the financial burden of raising them...get that man a trophy, will ya? My step-mom resented my dad's feelings of devotion towards me and would make fun of me and mock me behind my dad's back. But to be fair, I probably did provoke the hostility. I wasn't the easiest kid to be around (Have you met Chloe yet?). But I was hurt and I was a, ya know, someone has to be the adult. I never did accept my step-parents as extra parents. I don't think they wanted me to though. I think they more or less married my parents "in spite of" the kids that came with the package, not with the intention or hope of including me in a new family unit. (I have an older half-brother from my mom's previous marriage, so my real dad was my big brother's while my step-mom only had one new kid to deal with, my step-dad had two.) Anyways, I spent the next...well, hmm...I guess I should say I've spent my whole life since then feeling like the old car that was traded in for a newer model.

And life got even better (she says sarcastically) when my parents and my step-parents had their own children together. I was 6 when my brother Matt was born to my dad and step-mom, and when I was almost 14, my brother Blake was born to my mom and step-dad. I guess I had always thought before that the step-parents were just not "kid-people," but when I saw them with their own children, I felt the truth. I saw how the brothers got cuddled and played with and spoiled with all kinds of new toys and clothes and birthday parties and attention and affection and well, love. And it was equal...on both sides. It wasn't like my experience where I was loved by one parent and tolerated by the other. These kids got the whole AND dad...all in the same house. And I'm glad for them that they did. I don't resent them for having what every child should have. But my heart isn't any less broken since I wasn't as lucky.

Life has been pretty much that way ever since. My "big" little brother Matt has a condo and attends the Art Institute of Dallas on my dad and step-mom's dime. He received a brand new Apple computer last Christmas that would make any geek green with envy. My little brother Blake enjoys all the perks of being an only child of older parents who make a ton of money. He has all the cool video game systems, a flat-screen TV in his "game room" and pretty much gets everything that he wants. I know it doesn't sound like it, but it's not really about the stuff. This is the real thing that bothers me: There have been times that I have needed things (or yes, just wanted things) but my parents "couldn't" help me for fear of the "steps" finding out and holding it against them. And every time that my mom or dad have taken me out to eat, or bought me a present, or helped me with an unexpected expense they have, without fail, uttered the phrase, "Don't tell Chris." or "Don't tell Barbara." In those instances, I still appreciate the generosity of my parents. I just wish it didn't have to be a secret. I wish I could be like all the lucky kids who have two parents who are united in their optimistic hopes for their child, who strive to give their kid a better life than they had, who celebrate the very existence of the girl they created together, and who desire to lavish their child with good things. But instead of that, I have been demoted. I have become not only a step-child to the man and woman who took me on, but also to the man and woman who gave me life.

My parents don't realize they do this. They have no idea of the pain they inflict on me when they hide me away or choose their new family over me. At least I don't think they do. I know they love me. And I love them too. But as my friend put it so perfectly, " hurts because I know that they are a complete family without me.”

Monday, April 7, 2008


In about a month, I'm going to El Salvador to drill a well in a village where today, the people are drinking mud.

Will you spend a dollar today on something you don't need?

Think about it.

Go here to make a difference:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Would you like some spinach dip, Dearie?"