The Invisible Lurker

I almost avoided blogging today because I wanted to finish editing my novella. I’m on the last chapter. But the blogging experts say be consistent, blog with routine, don’t confuse your readers, so I’m trying to consistently post Monday-Wednesday and occasionally on the weekend.

I listen to the experts–those who have gone before me and know what works and what doesn’t. Then I discern if it’s good advice for my situation. A skill I adopted a long time ago.

Growing up, I had multiple step-brothers and sisters, but on my mom’s side (for about 20 years), I was the youngest. This gave me plenty of opportunity to watch and observe my step-siblings.

It wasn’t hard to tell why my step-sister, three years older than me, wasn’t  happy. Her parents fought all the time. She didn’t feel loved. At the time, I couldn’t fathom why she tried to fill her void with guys and popularity. It didn’t make her happy.

I watched my oldest step-brother and step-sister fail at college, marriage, and raising their children. They made excuses and blamed other people for their problems. Back when I was seventeen, this same step sister (six years older than me) tried to set me up on a date with a twenty-five-year-old. She gave him my phone number … and he called! It didn’t matter that he was smokin’ hot and I’d day-dreamed about marrying him, I turned him down. Twenty-five-year-old’s do not call seventeen-year-olds! Geesh. My parents would have killed me if I went out with him. Maybe that’s what my step-sister wanted. Maybe she was living vicariously through me. She could be manipulative and lied with ease.

While I buried my own dysfunction in stories and the make-believe, I also became a people watcher, a student of how other’s reacted to life, and I questioned motives. For example, I asked this same step-sister, “If you’re going to court soon to fight for the custody of your kids, why are you hanging out with random teenagers?” I genuinely wanted to know.

My real dad was an alcoholic. My step-dad was mentally abusive. Mom was on her third marriage, praying it wouldn’t fail. Step brothers and sisters moved in and out of our house as they transitioned from one mistake to another.

And I was the invisible lurker, watching from a corner like Nick Carraway—a captive by circumstance and coincidence—surrounded by selfish people, intent on destroying their lives.

And like Nick, I tried to avoid the same trappings. To choose wisely and avoid detrimental mistakes. It worked for the most part. When I went through my divorce, I didn’t give in to the demons trying to suck every ounce of happiness from me. While I struggled to get out of bed and wanted to die because it hurt so bad, I chose to listen to experts instead. I went to DivorceCare, I read books, I listened to people who’d walked the path before me. The storm was frightening, but I determined not to seek comfort from just anyone.

I am thankful for my youth. For the dysfunction I witnessed and survived. It made me who I am today. It followed me into the storm of divorce, but not as a burden, because I dropped that load a long time ago. It came with me as an umbrella of experience and wisdom and reminded me of the sunshine waiting on the other side. It reminded me of the foundation on which hope is built.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”–Desmond Tutu.

Observing and listening to others—especially those who have made mistakes—saved my life. So, that’s why I’m blogging today. A still small voice, planted by the experts out there, told me to. Blogging reminds me that you are part of my sunshine, you were waiting on this side of the storm, and you’re worth my time. I was wrong when I said editing my story is where I wanted to be. I’d rather be right here, sharing a valuable piece of my life with you. That makes me happy. Thank you for reading.

Can you remember a time when you learned by watching other people’s mistakes? Did it keeping you from making one of your own?