BY MIKI MARKOVICH
I don’t remember being thrown down a flight of stairs. I do remember, however, being self-conscious most of my life about my dented ribcage. But physical scars aside, my mental ones were much more painful, holding me hostage many years.
I was only a few months old when the tossing of the bouncing baby happened, so I have no idea what set my father off that day. What I do know is that I was deathly afraid of angry men for most of my childhood. I had the kind of fear that cripples. When a man would raise his hand or even his voice to my mother or me, I would fall flat to the ground, emitting a guttural howl much like an animal in the midst of being mauled. It took me many, many years to consciously and logically climb out of that rabbit hole, to see men as individuals and not as vicious threats.
The night I was thrown, my mother left my father. When I next had the opportunity to meet this man, I was 17. Having lived in and out of foster homes for a bit, I was a lost soul deeply desiring family and connection. Even though he introduced himself, handing me a business card in lieu of a hug, I was excited. I had family. I finally belonged. Within a couple of weeks meeting this stranger, I wouldn’t hear from him again until I was a 30.
A successful businesswoman, I had been traveling from the Midwest to the West Coast since 4:30am. I was exhausted. Upon checking into the hotel and calling home, I received the message that this man I barely knew threatened to never contact me again should I not call him immediately. Still desiring connection, I called.
Even though he spent most of the time talking about his money and cars, even though I realized we had nothing substantial in common outside of DNA, I was elated to hear from him, to matter. Before hanging up, I told him how thrilled I was to be in touch and how I would be sure to email him as soon as I arrived home.
After returning home a week later, I wrote him, words tumbling on the screen sharing my excitement, sending him best wishes for the upcoming holiday. The next day, seeing the name of this man I’m told killed my sister, threw me down a flight of stairs and beat my mother, still brought me joy.
Perhaps I should have expected to be let down, but I didn’t. His response brought me to tears. After making myself vulnerable, after laying my soul bare to him, he responded with an email full of profanity, hate and threats because I had addressed the message to “Greg” not “Dad.” I was told under no uncertain terms that unless I called him “Dad,” that there would be no relationship.
I calmed the tornado of my thoughts, search my heart and chose no relationship. But here’s the thing, I have a beautiful, wonderful, big, loud family already. I might not be biologically related to them, but they’re mine anyway. Through thick and thin, good and bad, laughter and tears, they’re mine, they’re there and they’re wonderful.
Biological family is important, but it’s not the only option. I’ve met quite a bit of my blood relatives as an adult. I travel thousands of miles each year to attend family reunions to hear stories about people I’ve never known, to commune with people who know my father much better than I ever will. I don’t necessarily remember their names, but I remember what dishes they cook like a rocking chefs, who has my same mannerisms and even shared educational background. However, when it comes to life celebrations, devastating losses and even everyday minutia, I have my amazing, totally-relatable-absolutely-unrelated family.
Do I regret meeting my father? Absolutely not. I want to know as much as I can about as much as I can. I now know how I got so tall and why I do so well on standardized tests. I’ve met some amazing half siblings and an incredible grandma. Plus, I’m firm believer in taking as many leaps of faith as I can handle in day. And find it completely acceptable to skin a knee while jumping now and again.
Here’s the thing, no matter what your familial situation, at the end of the day, surround yourself with uplifting people, the kind who have your soul’s best interest at heart. That may mean a biological parent or it may mean that crazy blond chic you’ve known since fifth grade; either way, it’s OK. It’s your family.
Who has your back? I’d love to hear. Post a comment, tweet me or visit Facebook.
Miki Markovich is a seeker of beauty and truth, traveler of interesting roads, saver of furry souls, typer of words, iPhone lover and mac head. You can find her on Twitter at @mikimarkovich and @fiveminutezen. If you’re looking to go from pissed to blissed in five minutes flat, find balance or improve the quality of your life through self care, check out her website at fiveminutezen.com.