Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A revelation of heartbreak and love

I don't often get personal on my blog - it's a little scary. So I will write this fast before I lose courage, because all my heart cries out to share this truth, though I am almost afraid to believe it.

A terrible fight between loved ones is tearing apart my family, and it's consumed me these past 10 days as I watch the rift grow deeper without any sign of healing.

I'm on the sidelines, loving both sides, seeing both sides, the anger and outrage of both sides. Both sides are right, both sides are wrong. At times I've leaned toward one side, then leaned toward the other. As I learn more about the history behind this disaster, I realize that this fight is the perpetuation of a vicious cycle going back  nearly 20 years, and could very well go back even further than that, back generations.  "Controversial" is too tame a word for the thing that started this fight, but that was just the spark - underneath there were layers and layers of the dry tinder of pain and pride and defense mechanisms, accumulating over the years.

I can't be specific because I don't believe that airing dirty laundry would benefit anyone.  I bet most of us have been through something similar to what my family is going through - different circumstances but surely the same heartbreak. But what's the solution? Once I realized that this is another turn in a long standing vicious cycle, I started straining my poor little brain cells to their capacity to think of a solution.

How do you break a vicious cycle that is rooted in years of pain and hurt and resentment? Where reasoning and counseling and the lie that "time heals everything" have made no headway?

Now you may call me a dreamer, a hopeless romantic, but I'll say the answer lies in a story. A universal theme that I've seen played out in many books - but perhaps most specifically and vividly in  A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle. It's been around since the 1960's so I'm going to take a risk and mention what happens at the crucial climax of this story of good and evil, light and darkness.

(Begin spoiler)
Meg has to rescue her father and her little brother from the clutches of a terribly evil being called IT. Anyone who gets anywhere near this hideous being has their mind consumed by IT. Meg's brother has become IT's slave, and if she gets too close, she'll become IT's slave, too. But Meg figures out how to defeat the consuming evil of IT. It is so controlling that it has no concept of love, and when Meg loves the hateful thing, she confounds IT and is able to free her brother.
(End spoiler)

I've loved this story and re-read it so many times that I knew somehow it would play a role in my own writing. What I didn't expect is that it would play such a role of hope in my own dark time. I don't know yet if its theme will play a role in the rest of my family - but I hope. Because it's not just a science fiction or a fairy tale. This theme runs through many fairy tales, yes, but I think it does because there's truth to it that we can apply to our own lives. I really do believe that love conquers all.

Vicious cycles that keep wrecking havoc in families are evil, like  IT, because they are so destructive.  It's not people that are destructive, it's the misunderstandings that consume us and blind us and perpetuate fear and resentment that are like IT and I believe the only way to break them is with love. Even when others lash out in scorn, you just keep loving. Love bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things. 

Does that sound too simplistic?

Perhaps, until you are in the battleground, realizing all the other weapons you've relied on in the past (logic, maybe, or determination) are failing you. Loving unconditionally is the hardest thing in the world. Meg got instant results from her love, that's the science fiction/fantasy part of the story; in real life unconditional love might go for years without seeing any result. It might struggle with the temptation to yell and scream and fight for its rights and its respect or to run away and lick its wounds and vow never to return to get hurt again: but in the end it stays true to its course and just keeps on loving.

I believe this and I am thankful for so many great books and their authors, from A Wrinkle in Time to Harry Potter to Kill A Mockingbird, for not just being books that I read to get through, but books that got through to me with the theme of the strength of love, and gave me hope during a bleak time.


  1. Awwww lovely Margo! I am so sorry this bad IT is invading your sanctuary and your family. Love truly conquers all but you must also protect yourself and your inner being first and foremost to keep strong! Am sending you lots of support hugs over the ether!! Take care

  2. I'm not sure books provide solutions, but i do think they provide hope.

    Moody Writing

  3. So sorry you are going through this. I do believe books can teach us how to live. And love is the answer.

  4. Margo, I'm so sorry that you all are having to go through this. (I will pray for you.) You're right about the power of love, particularly when those involved remember that love is more than a feeling. True love is a active choice to love, even when the object of the love is unlovely.

  5. You are a very strong and courageous person to write all this out and share it with us - thank you for trusting us with your heart! I think you definitely hit the nail on the head with your thoughts on love. As Connie said, true love is an action, a choice, not a feeling, and it is the hardest choice in the world, and the most worthwhile. It's not a Hollywood rom-com; it's the most powerful force in all the world, and in the end, the only thing that ever can change anything.

    Prayers to you and your family.

  6. This is heartbreaking, as are all things that pull families and loved ones apart. Love is not too simple of a solution; it is the only solution. Keep going, Margo. Keep loving.

  7. Family arguments are the worst because, well, it's FAMILY and that bond is incredibly hard to break. We've suffered our share in my family and sadly, I know that some things are still not resolved. But I think you are absolutely right that unconditional love is the path through it. Thank you for sharing your heart with us - I hope things will improve and solutions will be found. Hugs and prayers.

  8. This is definitely a tough one, Margo. I grew up in a position like this. I've had a similar experience as an adult. Neither time had anything directly to do with me. You're doing what's best - standing on the sidelines, being there for both. But that can be exhausting. Take care of yourself, too. ((hugs))

  9. I'm sorry to be a pragmatist, but fixing things in a family, especially a problem that has such deep roots, is virtually impossible. I suggest you stay uninvolved and try to accept it. People rarely change - but despite their flaws, you can accept them and love them anyway. :-)

  10. Sorry you're going through this. I've been there....twice. It's not easy at all. Perception plays such a huge role in conflict. These themes definitely creep into my work..it's an outlet. What I've learned that life is too short. Unconditional love and forgiveness (the best we can manage) is the only way...even if the relationships are forever changed.

  11. I'm sorry your family is experiencing something so difficult. Thinking of you.

  12. Family struggles are heartbreaking. Sending hugs. We had to break a destructive pattern by severing ties with family. It still hurts, but in my case it was what I had to keep my kids away from the toxic situation. Worth it in the end. Wrinkle in Time is one of my faves.

  13. In my experience, unconditional love is often met with ingratitude and stubbornness. Sadly there isn't much to do but continuing to love and hope that time eventually will make the miracle happen.
    It's not easy but keep doing what you're doing. Hugs.

  14. Margo, I'm so sorry you have to go through this. Family problems can be consuming and frustrating on so many levels. I've been in your position before. Sometimes taking space does the trick. Other times. trudging through it with love works. The formula changes with time. I found that part of it (in my case) was refusing acceptance. Some of my family members were just more comfortable with discord, if that makes sense. Nothing would change that except their own attitudes. Something I also want to advise you is to take care of yourself as well. Be there for support but don't let it drown you.



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