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Oct. 30th, 2007 @ 12:56 am Innocence, children, and cycles
So I'm an aunt again. And I'm thrilled. But I'm also hesitant about it, mostly because I hope (as I always do) that my niece doesn't end up in the cycles that both me and many of my siblings and friends either grew up or ended up in.

Here's another letter to the cousin I barely know, who often seems like he understands nothing about my life.

Dear cousin,
Last month, you became an uncle—and I found out through Facebook and a series of emails I never responded to. I offered shallow congratulations, the way an only child is expected to respond. After all, I have no biological siblings and therefore no way to understand the joy (and sometimes frustration) of a niece or nephew.

The thing is that I have no problem understanding. When I left the family half a decade ago, I landed in an Alaskan-style family. My parents, like many Alaskans, had formed a family of a myriad of friends. I learned from this example and by the middle of high school I was part of my own bizarre family. Some of my siblings were friends; others were friends’ significant others; still others were my friends’ own families, many of which had formed in similar manners. In addition, my best friend’s family claimed me as their own.

By sixteen, I had a niece with permanently tangled brown hair and a propensity for varying states of undress. She used to run through the house, and it always sounded like an entire herd of caribou were passing overhead instead of a five year old. Her brother would pull my hair and caterwaul for hours for no apparent reason at all. This was my niece and my nephew and I figured there could be no better feeling than the one that occurred the first time my niece called me “Auntie.”

Then, in the fall of my junior year, two of my “adopted” sisters as well as one of my friends’ girlfriends all got pregnant. One whirlwind wedding, one (two) question(s) of paternity, and a threat of abortion later, a new nephew, niece and honorary niece had all been born.

I am not a fan of children. In high school, one of my teachers frequently brought her son to our Saturday meetings and was consistently surprised by my apparent cold demeanor and tendency to refer to him as “small thing” or “your offspring”. So I surprised pretty much everyone outside of my family by having no problems babysitting. I didn’t even bitch about having to bring my niece to a potluck one night because her mother the flake wanted to go out and get trashed.

Today, over a year later, I became an aunt again. She was born on Friday, but her mother didn’t alert anyone until today. I’ve known her mother since high school, freshman year, when we latched on to each other because we were both survivors. We bonded because of that; we stayed friends because of that bond, even when we weren’t dating. Little by little, we wove a dance and after four years of complicated relationships, we’ve broken free of a holding pattern. I have college and a life; she has a daughter and a fiancé (who I think is an asshole and moron, but that’s another story) and she’s getting her life together.

So I get how proud you were about your nephew. I’m bouncing off the fucking walls and I’d love to tell you, to brag the way you did last month. But like so many other things, we don’t talk about our lives now.

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again: I hate the way our family splintered because of the abuse. I hate how much goes unsaid now because of what wasn’t said then.

I’m not certain how it is that my letter of bouncy exuberance turned into recriminations for what happened back then. Recriminations about what’s happened to our family. For what has happened to our generation. For the cycle we ended up caught up in. For the fact that we weren’t the first generation to be destroyed.

Maybe it’s because there’s an innocent baby girl who’s just a couple days old who looks like her mother. She’s the daughter and niece of two survivors, but she is also the niece of an abuser, the man who hurt her mother. Maybe it’s because I hope like hell the cycles end with our generation. I don’t want our problems to spread to her or my other nieces or nephews. I hope your nephew doesn’t perpetuate the cycle one day. I hope your brother doesn’t continue the cycle, but then again, your father never actively participated. His sin was one of inactivity; he stood by and allowed it to happen. In doing that, you and your brother were never actively abused. But (most of the time) I’m fairly convinced that you still lost more innocence than I want to admit because of his inactions.

It is my hope that the next generation is allowed to keep their innocence.
Quick Synopsis of My Current Insanity