From Emily, whenever they may find me

I don’t know how many of my family members read my blog.  I tried to sign up for Sitemeter, but it routinely tells me that no one has visited my blog, which is not only insulting but clearly untrue given that comments keep appearing.  It is either an issue between Sitemeter and WordPress or, and this is more likely, a user malfunction due to my complete idiocy.  Regardless, I cannot track where people are reading, so I have no idea if there are relatives out there, silently reading away.

It would take about thirteen seconds into a Google search for them to stumble onto this site, provided they know my married name.  Only half of them do, as I have been careful to never have my maiden name and my married name published together.  I simply do not want to be easily findable for my father, stepmother, and half-brother.  The rest of them, however, do know my married name, and they may well be reading these very words.  That is, if they have cared to Google me.

Make no mistake about it – I make it a regular habit of searching for all of them.  In fact, I paused writing this is order to click over to Facebook and see who I could find.  And then I clicked again, remembering another relative who might be there…

I search for my father and stepmother I think to make sure they are still alive.  I am not ready for them to die, yet.  When they are gone, there will be no one left who ought to feel responsible.  Reviling them is a little part of who I am, and to lose that will shift my identity.  It remains to be seen how much.

I search for my cousins to make sure they are doing well, happy and successful.  They are, as far as I can tell, although their Facebook pictures can only tell so much.  I hope to see a wedding one of these days, but they are either gay (the state they live in is one of the 45), single, cohabitating, or just not into publishing their marriages.  I get that; I did not have a wedding announcement because that would have pretty openly connected my maiden and married names.

My half-brother, however, did have a wedding announcement.  Actually, it was an engagement announcement, but it was published at the time of the marriage, as though they were perhaps afraid of making the event public knowledge in advance.  Did they fear I would show up?  What did they think I would do?

This is a recurring theme with my highly un-Googlable family.  For a group of professionals, there just ain’t much out there on most of them.  Have they done this for the same reason I kept my married and maiden names separate?  Are they thinking of me the same way I am thinking of them?  Are they concerned that I may show up?

Only my two cousins are openly out there, and even they keep their Facebook cards close to the chest, as do I.  Perhaps they are the ones who know I will leave them alone.  They are the most innocent of all, and I will never impose my version of my relationship with my family upon them.  When they want to find me, I am easy to locate, because I am the most Googlable of all my relatives.

What I think it comes down to is that I search for all of them because a part of me wants to think that they are searching for me.  That we are quietly watching one another’s lives, even though we are never likely to openly communicate again.  I vaguely consider us all tied to one another by the web of estrangement, living our lives but every now and then, late at night, crossing paths over the internet as we seek one another out.

This post is for Jen, but I think it might also be a little bit for all of them.

22 responses to “From Emily, whenever they may find me

  1. What an intriguing post…I can only imagine the story behind it.

    Re your title “From Emily…” I have loved that S&G song ever since it came out something like 30 years ago. I wondered if you’ve been identifying with it a long time?

  2. I can’t empathize, because I have nothing in my life that comes close to that kind of trauma. I can’t imagine being out there in the world with no family ties to tether you to the past, other than in a negative way. I’m amazed that you come across as thoughtful and well-adjusted as you do. You must be very strong. I hope you take comfort in the fact that you haven’t been defined by them.

  3. But, of course. My eyes aren’t brown, I’m not named Jenny, and I rarely look wonderful tonight. It’s the only song about me, unless you count the fact that I wear a lot of red.

  4. That we are quietly watching one another’s lives, even though we are never likely to openly communicate again. I vaguely consider us all tied to one another by the web of estrangement, living our lives but every now and then, late at night, crossing paths over the internet as we seek one another out.

    Wow. This was really powerful, Em. “The web of estrangement” is some amazing imagery.

  5. Beautiful post. I am, unfortunately, quite googlable and the only thing I can try to do is make as much as possible of it my own.

  6. My sitemeter is also acting up. And I also check the web for my dad sometimes. He’s not on FB but I found him as the judge of a flower show. Nothing too dramatic happened with us, though – his new wife was cold to me and he dropped quietly out of my life. But I still wonder if he wonders about me ever.

  7. Em, thank you for this.

    I wish now that in my post I had declared how I found that photo of my stepmother. When I wrote it, I thought “Let her wonder if someone sent it to me, but I’m not going to give her the satisfaction of knowing I was Googling her.”

    But what you said, “When they are gone, there will be no one left who ought to feel responsible,” almost knocked me over. I’m just becoming comfortable with putting my own parents on notice, in the last year, and apparently still have moments of hesitation.

    You, as you have all along, inspire me.

  8. I can relate to the desire to hide, although not from certain family members. I was nervous for years about having my name published on the web, because there was a certain person out there that I did not want to find me. This person repulses me so that I rarely, if ever, check to see if he is out there. I did calm down enough to join facebook, and while a few unwanted blasts from the past tapped me, overall it’s been pleasant.

    I understand what you mean about how you define yourself through your hatred of your family. I had a family member for way too long that I hated. There was a great line in the movie “A Thousand Acres” about someone only being remembered for not forgiving the unforgivable. For years, that was me. Everyone- even this person’s victims- wanted me to let it go. I couldn’t. Until, finally, I deemed this person not a threat to my own children and started to act like he wasn’t in mortal danger around me. And then, miraculously, he left our family.

    I… developed quite a reputation, and maybe even a personality, for not letting that go. Part of me kicks myself- I should have held on just a little longer to have fully enjoyed being right- but really, it felt good to let it go, and not having that bond of hatred when he did finally leave made it possible for me to let him go completely. Part of me wishes that I could stop hating certain other people- one certain other person- but I’m afraid of what losing that hatred will expose me to.

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  10. Mmmm. Simon & Garfunkel, and a post to go along with it that is equally beautiful and evocative.

  11. I’ve dealt with family estrangement, and the death of my father when I was a teenager. I was surprised by how much it hit me. I hadn’t spoken with him in a long time, and it had been far longer since I’d had a civil conversation. But it did hit me, and maybe for some of the reasons you said.

    This was a very lovely and poignant post. Thank you for sharing it.

  12. Emily, they may have their own reasons for keeping things close to their chest, which aren’t about you, but about the same type of dysfunction that drove you away.

    I hope that the members of your family who are harmless do sometimes check out your name and that they send thoughts and good wishes your way.

  13. You are beyond incredible, Emily

  14. I loved this post, Em. My life couldn’t be more different, and yet I understand.

  15. I google my family too… I wish I didn’t have to leave everyone behind, but I tried to keep a cousin once. It didn’t work out. She gave my location up to my mother because she just didn’t get it. Said cousin friended me (!) on facebook so I keep her there in permanent stasis hoping to find clues in her pictures.

  16. this, too, is far away from my experience & i know that your writing gives me only a hint of the pain around the abuse & how creating your family life a certain way must be such a multi-layered & complex thing for you. i am 40 and both my parents have died. my mom never met any of my kids & oh, how she would have loved them. my dad delighted in them for a couple of years but his physical & mental health deteriorated before relationships could have been formed. that loss for me is acute. it doesn’t stop me in my tracks though (for as sentimental i am, i also can be incredibly pragmatic). but i can feel how my loss of family is such an entirely, entirely different loss of family for you every time i read one of your posts on the subject, & it hurts my heart so i clearly cannot imagine what it does to yours….

  17. beautiful post that beautifully complements jennifer’s post.

  18. I just love you. And I WILL be back to see you. SOON.

    (And I never google anybody. I think I should start, if for no other reason than to feel sanctimonious about my loser ex-boyfriends)

  19. I hope they are searching, and seeing that you are OK in spite of them. And OH how I hope they are getting the responsibility, but I doubt it. People like that are incapable of seeing themselves. But it has to feel good that they can be made uneasy by your words.

  20. interesting.

    i tried to keep my name completely untied to my blog, but it turns out that when I first signed up for technorati (which I then promptly ignored) I typed in my real name, not realizing it would be part of my PUBLIC profile. So for nearly a year i didn’t know this until one day I googled myself. I immediately changed my technorati profile, but i know that my aunt found me in the meantime. perhaps some others as well.

  21. I don’t keep much in touch with my dad’s side of the family but I do see their updates on Facebook so now I know a lot more about them than I did. No estrangement, just geography mostly. I don’t think my blog can be found by Googling. Certainly hope not!