epi_speaks: on family & survival.

by epi

I have 32 siblings.

Thirty-two. That number seems wrong. Probably because it is. Probably because I should say “I’ve had thirty-two siblings.” Saying it the past tense seems wrong too though. Like, just because I was there, and now I’m not… or, they were there and now they aren’t, doesn’t mean it wasn’t. And when it comes to family… isn’t it, once & always? I mean, isn’t someone who’s a part of your family, always a part of your family? Isn’t that the way it goes? (Honestly, I mean seriously, I don’t know.)

I don’t know how family works. Just that for most people, it does. I had (have?) multiple families. Changing them like something meant to be tried on, perhaps worn, but eventually left behind. It’s funny that I don’t see myself as the one who’s been left behind. Maybe that’s the secret to “foster kid success”. I never saw myself as the stagnant one. I never thought… I never thought that I was the one with something wrong.

My sister, one of the 32 that share my blood, found me this past weekend. She was my father’s last daughter. Her mother was the reason I went fatherless (and nameless, and legacy-less) for the first 9 years of my life. He left my mother (I suppose for her, or better dreams, or something different, or someone different, or someone better–than us) when she was barely pregnant with me. [It’s funny to say it like that, barely pregnant, because, I mean, you either are or you aren’t. There’s no barely to it.] So, she was pregnant with me. And he left us. And she had more kids and then she lost us [over and over and over]. And he left, and got married to a woman far more sane than my poor mamacita, and had a baby girl. The last one. Gave her his name, and his eyes and his hair, wasn’t ashamed, didn’t doubt, and so he gave her his legacy. My legacy. (You see, I was supposed to be the baby. I was supposed to be the youngest. The loved one.)

I considered being bitter, considered being angry at her. But it’s not her fault. And besides, she’s smart like me. Loves anime like me. Dreams of travel like me. Has my sister’s look, and my father’s gap, like me. She’s beautiful. That’s the real point of all this, but I got distracted with words/thoughts that mean too much to delete. So if you’ve made it through all that… listen. She’s like me. She’s like me!! You see, I have (I’ve had?) 32 siblings. Thirty-two in twenty-three years. And, barring two beautiful women, I’ve always felt alone in them. We’ve always lacked a shared “something”. Blood, movie choice, armstrong-gap, past… but this girl, though we lack everything experiential, is like me. I’m not an oddity, I’m not alone, my success wasn’t a freak-incident… it was bred in me. My sisters and I were meant to be strong, we were meant to withstand hit-after-hit-after-hit from the world. We were built to last, to survive.

And now I know that all that time, I WAS wrong. It was me. The reason I survived foster care, the reason I couldn’t even feign failure, it was me. Not chance, not the world, not luck, not even an internal-understanding-of-survival-of-the-fittest. Me. I’m not sure I’ve said what I meant to say in all this, in fact I’m not even sure what I came here to say. Just, I have a family. Thirty-two siblings worth of families. And some of them, a few of them, are like me. I’m not alone. I’m not afraid. (Can you understand what this means for me? Can you understand what it’d be like to spend your life alone… and then, not? It’s beautiful, and though, honestly, I’ve never been alone, it feels good to see that now.)

[also–that legacy I mentioned earlier, i have a different one now. from a different father. it’s grander than anything my bio could have even dreamed of giving me. so please, understand, i’m not bitter… i’m happy. ecstatic. maybe even, for the first time in a long time, ready to live up to my legacy. ready to show my Abba that his gift wasn’t one mistakenly given.]

& also, I was wrong earlier. I do know how family works. It works like this. Like me.

Please join me, if you desire, in the future months as I struggle to understand more about me, and family with my new perspective. I’d be excited to have you.