Published on March 27th, 2020

When the World Falls Down. I watched Labyrinth only two weeks ago with my son for the first time. Although he loved it—as do I—I find it almost a strange coincidence that I’m in the position to be writing this article at this moment.

As the pain sweeps through,

Makes no sense for you

Every thrill is gone

Wasn’t too much fun at all

— David Bowie

You see, back in 2016 my world fell down. Some people might find that silly. Some people might totally relate. Some people might never even share a similar experience, in which case, congrats. Of course by my “world” I don’t mean that some bad physical event happened to me. I didn’t lose my house, it wasn’t the death of a loved one. No, it was worse. By “my world”, I mean that every strong belief that I had held, nearly every form of trust I’d created, almost every “truth” of mine was completely eradicated. Having those foundations of my very being unwillingly eliminated was the most devastating thing that has ever happened to me.

In high school, the english comp curriculum often includes some type of “coming of age” unit. My school was no exception. Yet, as much as they covered stories of leaving the nest or becoming independent of one’s parental figures, I never really considered that coming of age would actually entail much of anything else. But, in my early twenties, I quickly figured out just as my friends did that the adults in our families didn’t have a clue what they were doing. They were just winging it. Just like everybody else. As frightening as that realization was at the time, it also had a calming effect. It put us on a level playing field. I still had respect for the adults in my life, but no, mother doesn’t always know best.

I thought that was it, but 26 had another plan.

Although my parents were just winging it, they did instill in me a firm moral compass.

  • Give, even if you have nothing
  • Love, unconditionally
  • Never Steal
  • Always be honest. Lies are lies, plain and simple—even the “small” ones.
  • Family is the most important. Always be there for them and they will always be there for you.

As it turns out family is not always there. My family showed their true colors in 2016. I won’t go into anything too specific, but I got into a fight with a person. It was someone I had grown up respecting my entire life. I had created a false image of who I thought this person was, and instilled that as truth within my own belief system. When reality hit and I was old enough to see the actual truth—the habitual lying, the theft, the embezzlement, amongst other things—I didn’t hesitate to call them out on it. Having the firm moral belief system that I did, that didn’t mesh at all with me. I made the decision to distance myself from them. I figured I’d still be civil with them in a forced social situation, but I wasn’t going to call them up on the phone as if they were my best friend anymore. I thought that was reasonable, though my family didn’t like that. Not one bit.

No, instead I was essentially disowned and I wasn’t allowed back in the family until I agreed to be BFF’s with this person that had betrayed my heart in every way possible. I wasn’t allowed at family functions. No birthday parties, no holidays. They’d say it was me that made that “choice“. But since when is an ultimatum a choice? Since when do families dole out ultimatums? Since when do families disown each other for trying to do the right thing? Since when do families even disown anyone at all? Since when am I not allowed to have free will?

Six months that went on. I can’t remember why they said I could finally come to a family function, but I do remember feeling it had a lot more to do with them wanting to see my infant son than it had to do with actually reconciling with me. I couldn’t help but feel like I did the whole time— it was only about what they wanted for themselves, it wasn’t about reconciliation. At this point, I’d like to make clear, not all of my family was active in this behavior. At least not that I’m aware. Some remained silent in the background. But, they didn’t object to any of this either. I assume, the young ones had no idea what was going on. They were collateral damage caused by a selfish ultimatum. To them I was just some ghost who didn’t show up to their parties anymore. It’s a shame really. They were never meant for this. Nobody else was either. The issue was supposed to stay between just that other person and I, but, people in general have a way of involving themselves in others’ private matters—so there we were.

When you take a china plate and smash it on the floor, you can pick up the pieces and glue them back together, but even then it will never be the same. There will always be cracks—marks of heartache left behind that will never dissipate. Because of this I believe, unbeknownst to many of them, that we have permanently fractured relationships. Because of this I know that they will not always be there. Because of this, I know where their true loyalties lie. Their loyalties lie with themselves. In reality that’s to be expected of course—that is human nature. I was the fool to believe what’d I’d been taught otherwise.

But I’ll be there for you

As the world falls down

– David Bowie

I felt like I’d lost everything. I’d felt like I’d lost the entire life I’d once known—all because of my belief in a fictional “story” that I’d made up for myself. I’ve never felt my heartbreak as badly as the way it did in 2016, and I hope I never have to feel anything like that again. Not that you even can once it’s all lost anyway.

I’d felt alone. I felt more alone than I’d ever felt. I’d lost the entire network of support that I had believed I’d been blessed with my whole life, but it was never actually there to begin with. I may have lost my family as I thought I’d known it but I still had people that I could count on. I still had people in my life that shared my moral compass. I still had people in my life that didn’t put themselves before others. I still had other people in my life that were always honest with me. I still had people that wouldn’t try to take my freedom of choice away. I still had people in my life that would never disown me for their own selfish reasons. Those people were there for me when I needed it most, and while they couldn’t catch me from falling, they helped lessen the blow.

I’m writing this now because old wounds have been opened and new lacerations have come to light. I see history repeating itself. Fresh fractures in other’s lives. Young ones finally seeing the reality that, maybe, those you “loved'” never really loved you anyway. Maybe you were just there to meet their needs, be it some physical task or an emotional requirement. Does it matter either way? What ever it was, it’s not unconditional love.

My world fell down when I figured out how alone I really was.

My world fell down when I figured out that I hadn’t had anything I’d thought I’d had all along.

Nowadays I choose the people I trust much more wisely. Now I understand what true family is.

“Family isn’t always blood, it’s the people in your life who want you in theirs: the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”

Maya Angelou

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