Really, Who Am I?

Every now and then I ask myself this all important question. This is more in the context of where did I come from? Yes, I know how babies are made! I am thinking more in terms of my heritage. What in my family’s history has made me who I am? What do I have to offer to my son in terms of his heritage? Well the answer is diddly squat because I know little or nothing about my family’s past. There appears to be nothing that binds us together as a cohesive supportive group. We are just a mish mash of different people who rarely find themselves in the same room. Sometimes this makes me jealous.

Nova Scotians are known for music and family and kitchen parties, especially those from Cape Breton where my seed was planted years ago. I however was gone from that part of the province before I was two months old. Also both parents were the product of Non-Cape Bretoners My mother’s father was from Wales, but moved to Nova Scotia as a lad; and her mother was from mainland Nova Scotia and lost her own mother at a very young age. They spent their lives working hard to raise and feed their six kids. The younger years spent moving every time they couldn’t pay the rent. Not much time for fun, music and sharing stories. 

My birth father’s parents were both from Newfoundland; but I don’t know what happened to them because they were not the typical funny, musical, fun Newfoundlanders that one sees on a regular basis. And boy do I envy that heritage. I rarely saw the pair, but when I did they were miserable. My grandfather was severe and borderline mean, especially to my long suffering-grandmother. She did develop some wonderful independent ideas after he passed on; but still, the past was the past and not spoken about. 

I envy the Afro-Canadians who have such a strong sense of family and community even though their shared history is rife with tragedy and racism. I envy the Italians who bond over food and large gatherings, and the Acadians who do the same. The Lebanese who have a strong work ethic, a great sense of appreciation, and a way of making everything special. They all have what I appear to be missing. An identifiable heritage.

Me, well I grew up with a two working parents (a mom and stepdad) who’s objective was housing and bringing up five kids and making sure they had the basics of life. Food. Clothing. Shelter. There wasn’t time for heritage. Neither really had much to say on the subject because their own parents had spent their lives doing the exact same thing. And as with their own parents, there was also not much time for anything else. We were very competitive kids when it came to time with, and attention from, our parents. It was every kid for him or herself.

The closest we got to bonding was in front of the TV set where we were inundated with American shows, as Canadian content at the time was limited. We picked up American values and backstories. We became the middle class with nowhere to go but forward, with each of us having a different idea of what that meant. And this is part of the problem. We are divisive and have no heritage to unite us together. We do not do well when put in the same room.

But sometimes, I do not feel jealous. I feel relief because the introvert in me is spared the groups and small talk that I find both so socially competitive and exhausting. Because even when there was the odd annual gathering in younger years, I spent much my time in avoidance mode. Finding a quiet corner, being accused of snobbery when really I was so shy and tongue tied that I wanted to puke. I got close to no one. Either that, or in later gatherings, finding my words in a couple of glasses of wine and then voicing a not-so-popular statement that would piss someone off because I have turned into a Pro-Canadian feminist while others remain chauvinistic and more interested in the lower American prices.

To be honest, I have literally spent most my life under the radar. So what have I done to counteract this behavior? Not much really. Except when it comes to my own family. My own, mostly introverted, family that consists of The Doc and JT, both introverts; two non-introverted stepsons; their wonderful semi-introverted spouses and four grandchildren. Plus a couple of friends who have chosen me to be in their circle, because I am woefully lacking friend-making skills. These are the people, I make an effort for. And after another rumination on this subject, I once again realize that I am content because, for me, they are enough.

Thank you for reading  

Photos:  Jenn Stone

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21 thoughts on “Really, Who Am I?

  1. Well, don’t forget your blogging friends and blogging soul mates! You should look into some genealogical research if you find this interesting. You never know what kind of information you might unearth. It will potentially connect you to your heritage while allowing you to skip the 2 miserable generations, or distance you even further, but at least you will know a bit more.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh I can’t forget the blogging buddies and soul mates. They provide an important sense of belonging and the warm and fuzzies that my heritage doesn’t.
      As for genealogical research. It would be interesting but not satisfying when it comes to what is missing. What’s missing is a culture that needed to be present since childhood. And for me to have experienced its presence.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It sounds like in many ways we actually have a lot in common. I’ve always felt like the outsider, especially among family.
    One of the reasons I started this blog is because they don’t really know me. The other is due to all the years of wondering why/who I am by researching my family history has helped me grow and by sharing those experiences we can help others. I could feel there was something special about you😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I was thinking of you when I wrote this. I appreciate the way you have been sharing your history. My family doesn’t know me either. But most of them don’t read my blog. I don’t write it for them. I believe that speaking up and sharing is important. That is definitely something else you and I have in common.


  3. Being an only child of an only child mother… I’ve always envied big happy families as well. Of course then I married into a big family who… as it turns out, were anything but happy and changed my mind.
    Jump on and start tracing your tree. Genealogy is fascinating and totally addicting!


  4. All families are different, just like all bloggers are different. I seem to have a few more family than you, though we only meet at funerals these days, and I have fewer friends. I seem to have learned to do without them over the years. Like you, I’m happy with that, which is what is important.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I find myself thinking more about things like this as I get older. I suppose it’s because I’ve got more time on my hands. Old Man Springer—The Great Philosopher! I think you ended up at the right place. It sounds like you are content with yourself and your immediate family. Many people don’t have that or spend their lives trying to be something they’re not.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I completely relate to so many of the things your shared in this piece. In particular, I do have those pangs from time to time when I wonder what my life would have been like had my family been much more… I suppose “warm” is a fair enough word. I was most assuredly the oddball in those formative years, never fitting in, complicated by the fact that I was adopted (long story, full of complications, not as clinical as it sounds) and my birth mother was also adopted, so tracing anything back through her is almost impossible. My biological father has always been around, in some form and often much more than I wanted him to be.

    My adoptive mother is whom I mostly identify with, and she “raised” me. But her family never knew what to do with me, as I was a “progressive” from an early age and none of them have ever gotten anywhere near that. I bid my time until I could escape. I still visit with them, regularly, but it never feels like “home” when I do.

    I am more content with the family I have now, almost entirely chosen and not dictated by bloodlines. THIS feels like home, but there are still days here and there when I sense that I’m still not understood. I had to hide or sublimate who I was for so long, tamping down my spirit, that I’ve never stood fully naked, in a figurative sense, in front of anyone. My chosen family is warm and loving and supportive, but I still hesitate at opening certain doors. And I suppose that encapsulates, somewhat, my short-form response to your opening title question of “Who Am I?”

    Sorry for the ramble. You have a delightful (and mildly unnerving) way of triggering things in me with your thoughtful reflections. Thank you for that. And I hope I’m not annoying you… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Never ever think that you are annoying me. If my blog delights and unnerves you to the point that you share your thoughts with me then it is a successful post because I feel heard. That’s good for both of us. Therapy right?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m a confirmed introvert and a loner and, if at a party, I’m happy to let everyone get drunk and then just sit and listen and people-observe (can be very amusing). I was always like that as, rather than compete with my brother for my parents’ attention, I used to really shun it. That upset my mother as my brother would ‘come for a cuddle’ but I would shrink away in horror at any such suggestion! I’ve always been a one-person person – happy to be close to a lover or partner but absolutely no-one else.

    Liked by 1 person

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