Day 5. I am conflicted. I grew up thinking love and marriage were easy to maintain based on watching my parents’ relationship, but lately I don’t believe that statement at all. I know in a way it is true, that with work and dedication you can maintain a healthy relationship, but I understand now that there are so many outside pressures that affect everything.

My family has been through a lot and is going through a lot. Nobody has the same mindset; we are all completely different in our thoughts and decision-making abilities. My parents are utter opposites when it comes to almost everything, but they have always made things work together. I’ve never seen them spend much time apart from each other up until about the last half year. During these past few months, I have noticed a change in everything from the way they speak to each other to the way they feel internally based on what they express to me in privacy. Throughout my life, I have always felt that I was the child who had to justify why I chose to spend my time with one parent over the other, but I have always had a different relationship with both. My mother is the one who understands me more, being a woman and also through faith. My father is the one who pushes me academically and professionally, but I can also cut loose with. They couldn’t be more different to me.

They have been married for over 30 years and I often wonder how they managed to stay together for that long. Especially now. My father has been away from the house for some time caring for ill family members and I can tell my mother misses him. I know she does, even when she says that it doesn’t matter to her. My father misses her terribly and tells me often when I visit him. Throughout this time, I’ve noticed the difference in demeanor between them both. My mother appears to feel the need to be “stronger” and put up armor to shield herself from any emotions. My father, on the other hand, allows others to see his weakness and all that he feels. It’s so strange to me because they have almost taken on each others roles from when I was growing up: my dad, defining machismo and always assuming the role as main provider of the family; my mom, so caring as the protector of her precious family.

Then my siblings and I grew up. We made mistakes. We started deciding things for ourselves, sometimes not choosing wisely. And they let us. They watched and offered their help when we needed it, always caring from afar, allowing us to live our lives but silently praying that we would return to safety. Think “The Prodigal Son” parable in the Bible- that was my parents with us.

Everything seemed perfect. They worked out any kinks, they discussed decisions with patience and forgiveness, they argued and angered each other, yet always found a way back to expressing their love. I always thought they were a nice example of a good marriage. Now I don’t know. Maybe things of this manner happen in marriages. Maybe you have to weather the good and the bad and somehow still find a way to not just “manage” but honestly say that you are still happy.

Are they still happy? Are they still IN love? Or do they just love?

I truly believe they are the first two. In today’s times, people would just get separated when the going gets tough. We got in a fight? Let’s spend some time apart. You aren’t spending all of your time with me? Divorce. Let’s search for something better. But what if there is no better? What if you throw the diamond away to settle for a rock that glinted in the sun when you blinked? What if all you need to do is just be a little more patient and forgiving?

I feel like I can empathize now with people who have parents that are separated. I know my parents aren’t actually separated, but I understand the “choosing” that comes along with it. Should I stay home with my mother so she won’t be there alone? Or should I visit my father and care for him while he suffers from literal loneliness?  How do I express to my mother that she should go and care for my father? That he needs her now more than ever and she should put aside any pride or resentment, if that’s what it may be, and go to him? How do I tell my father that he should act like he actually wants my mother around when she does visit so that she won’t feel that he doesn’t need her? That she still needs to hear that he wants her even if he is tired and needs some rest? How did I get in between their relationship? HOW DO I GET OUT?

It sucks being the child that they rely on to unload their thoughts and emotions. I am not the only kid. I might be the only one with an awakened conscious at the moment, but I can’t handle this alone. How do I get my siblings to understand and care as much as I do? Why should I even have to convince them? Am I living my own life or am I allowing everyone around me to consume me and make decisions for me? Is this what it looks like to live your life when you care for your loved ones so much that it makes your heart want to burst?

I don’t know how to express anything to my parents. I am tired of having to justify my decisions. Why would they even think that I would pick one of them over the other? How do I split my time evenly with each of them? Who even cares about MY feelings? Am I being selfish to consider asking that question during this time?

I’m just so conflicted. So many questions and never any answers.