When you have no parents and no family

Today, we went to Industry City to meet up with a couple we met at a food/beer event about two years ago. Every subsequent time I see them, I learn a little more about the childhood of the woman in the couple, who seems like she’s had… quite an ordeal through her life. Her mom abandoned her at birth. Her dad abandoned her twice, once when she was years old, and again when she was about 15 years old. She was primarily raised by her grandmother, but even then, the relationship was restrained and not very loving. So she’s never really had any real “family” experience or felt like she belonged anywhere. In fact, she didn’t really come to understand what “family” even meant until she married her now husband about 11 years ago. That was really the beginning of when she started feeling like she had family.

It’s such a strange thought to think about not having any family or place of belonging at all, especially given that Mother’s Day is tomorrow. Many of us have parents who we have great, strained, or tumultuous relationships with, but regardless of the status or depth of the relationship, the relationship still exists… or existed. In this friend’s case, she has no one to call her parents or to refer to when she discusses where she came from. And it seems like such a painful, lonely thought. But she’s done quite well for herself and wants to do so much good in her life. She’s active in her neighborhood and serves on her community board. She’s done development and strategy work to improve the lives of children in under-served communities across the U.S. and developing countries. She does freelance writing to shed light on her own personal experiences and how they can affect the world. Every time I talk to her, I realize how complex and multi-faceted she is, and how a lot of us can learn so much from her life experiences… of being rejected by the two people who brought her into this world, but not letting that run or ruin her life.

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