My daughter came home this week with an assignment. As soon as I saw the piece of paper I thought perhaps it wouldn’t be the simple task I originally assumed it would be.
Her and her classmates were asked to put together a simple family tree diagram (with as much information was possible) and then do a speech about it.
Initially when I thought that the concept of a family tree, it seemed quite basic. Mum, Dad, Aunts, Uncle, Grandparents etc. But upon doing my own rough diagram of our history, it appeared as though the ‘branches’ of our family tree had become tangled and our tree started looking more like a haunted forest filled with thorns of broken pasts.
Branches intertwining, branches breaking, re-forming here and there but weaker than before. It then dawned on me that my family and those before me were broken.
I helped my daughter write a sweet little poem about her family tree, sensitive and age appropriate for her to read to her classmates, but I couldn’t help but think to myself – I wish I could show what our family tree actually looked like.
Some branches split and splintered with marriages ending in divorce, some branches poisoned and diseased with parents staying in toxic relationships for the sake of the kids, some branches burnt and still smoking with the embers of hurt and resentment toward cheating ex-spouses.
As the family tree grew from the roots upward, it became very apparent to me that through the years, patterns had been formed on both sides, leaving it in a tangled mess.
Printing out photos of my ex and his family left me feeling deflated, resentful of all the hurt they had put me through. I thought to myself, is this what all families look like? I wondered what a ‘normal’ family would look like.