It has been that time of year when many a mom (some dads and grandparents too) on Facebook has posted pictures talking about how swiftly time passes. Have you noticed all the last day of school pictures compared to the first day of school pictures?
There have been last kid graduating kindergarten photos. Last day of elementary photos. "She's a freshman now" photos. "I can't believe I have a senior now" photos, and of course, graduation photos a many.
So many milestones. So many celebrations. So many bittersweet moments.
There are times where I don't feel like an especially touchy-feely person. I wouldn't necessarily consider myself to be someone that's uber sympathetic. That's not something I am proud to admit. Oh, but in the midst of all these photos and posts, I'm experiencing "all the feels" in a major way.
No, I don't have kids of my own. I do have nieces though. When school starts back in a few months, they will be a freshman and senior in high school. It's so hard to believe. I know it's cliche to say that. However, the reason it's so hard to believe is because I've been on the outside of so many milestones, when I want to be right in middle of them.
If you have followed this blog for more than a few years, you may remember that I used to talk about my nieces a lot here. Then, I didn't talk about them except the occasional post about one of them. It's a topic I skirted, and continue to skirt in this venue. It's something I've wanted to talk about in a therapeutic way, but haven't because there's some things that can't be said or shouldn't be said. I'm tired and weary of it all.
I used to spend lots and lots of time with them from the time they were born. They were my might-as-well-be my children. There were periods of time where one or the other would stay with me practically every other weekend. I was a big part of their lives and they were a huge part of mine.
Because I don't have a family of my own, a huge part of my identity was tied to being an aunt, and everybody knew it. I think I counted on this too much. That's my fault.
Those two girls have been through a lot of crap, to be honest. That was part of why we were so close. I knew things would change some as they got older, just part of being teenagers. I was completely unprepared for how much of a change. It wasn't all about just being a teenager though.
Three years ago, a specific situation changed, and when it did, I was pushed completely out of one of their lives. After 13 years, everything changed. It's been quite the ordeal. It's had an affect on the relationship I have with her sister in some ways too.
At this point, I want to make it clear that what follows is MY REACTION to this change in MY LIFE. It's not pointing fingers or assigning blame to anyone for anything. I'm going to go into a selfish, self-pity rant about me and why I have been emotional.
Oh, how I fought it. I tried to keep it from happening. I tried to keep the lines of communication open. But I failed, and I failed miserably. It seemed the more I tried, the worse it got. I had to back off. I still don't know all of the causes. I may never know. I can't go into the details of what little I do know.
The situation has left me absolutely crushed. I've felt lost. I've felt like I've lost a huge part of my identity. Oh, how I have mourned the situation. I've mourned the relationship. There have been times the mention of her name will bring me to tears. I miss her so much. I have missed so many moments I never thought I would have missed. I miss conversations. I miss laughs.
I don't think either could possibly know how much I love them and that I would do anything for them. I hope they never feel the pain I have felt the past few years.
I've prayed countless prayers. I've cried buckets upon buckets of tears. I've screamed and punched pillows. I've dreamed about confrontations. I've stuffed down feelings. I've tried to act like everything is normal. I've made my friends weary from hearing about it. That's made me feel extremely guilty, and I try to avoid conversations that might go that direction.
I've been sad. I've been angry. I've been at my wit's end. I've been hurt. I feel helpless. I feel resigned.
I've had conversations with my other niece about how sad it has been, and now, there are signs it's going to happen all over again. That makes me even angrier for a number of reasons.
Sometimes I can push it out of my thoughts. Sometimes I can almost convince myself that they aren't mine so I just have to give it up.
Then, sometimes Facebook floods with emotional moments, and I just can't take it anymore.
In a complete too-much-information moment, I'll add that being hormonal just multiplied all of the sadness and anger and every other emotion. It made it all the more worse.
After a particularly hard day, I said something to a friend on Facebook. I just needed to tell someone I was struggling. Meaning well, she sent me a video she thought I would smile at. The trailer to the Christopher Robin movie was not the answer. That was sappy emotional, and the video slid right into "Top 10 Disney Movie Clips that Made Us Ugly Cry," and I could not get the video to stop before a scene from Inside Out started. That was the last movie I took both of my nieces to. We saw many a Disney movie together, and there are strong memories there.
I started sobbing so hard I could not breathe.
My biggest fear is nothing will change and that after graduation next year, she'll go off and we'll never have a real conversation again.
I think of how before she was in kindergarten I had been whining about how I wanted to go to Hawaii, but no one would go with me. She was too little to know Hawaii from Hillsboro, but said, "I'll go to Hawaii with you Baqbaq!" We made a deal then that we would go to Hawaii for her high school graduation. We talked about it so many times. Now I think it doesn't matter that there are travel advisories and the islands are covered with lava because that isn't going to happen anyway.
So as I sit here and type and wipe tears from my eyes and snort so snot doesn't run down my face, I promise this will be the end of any pity party you see here.