The other day a colleague and I were talking about the losses in our lives. We both lost mothers when we were young girls and have had lasting "holes" in our lives. As children, we thought that other people didn't have the same kind of psychological holes that we had - and maybe didn't have holes at all! We were conscious of ours, tried to cover them up or fill them, and believed that no one else understood the concept.
As we've grown older, we've both come to realize that everyone seems to have some kind of hole in his or her life. Some big loss. Some major disappoinment. Some huge mistake. Something that they are trying to compensate for. Everyone struggles. Every family has a secret or two.
We thought it would be an interesting exercise to have people draw themselves with their holes. Maybe it's a hole in the heart, or one in the head, or the stomach, or the leg. Maybe there's more than one. It's not the kind of thing that could be shared lightly. But it would be enlightening to learn how people have coped.
Over time we find ways to soften the edges of a loss, fill it with other things or people, learn to live with it, or move beyond it. We usually return to visit it from time to time. It's part of our internal landscape and history.
Yesterday when I was at Starbucks I overheard a group of teenaged boys talking about their "real" dads and their "step" dads - and what the men could or couldn't do. They seemed to easily exchange stories in a matter-of-fact way. One said he wouldn't know his real dad if he saw him. I thought it was great that these kids could speak so openly about their lives and losses. When I was a kid I didn't know anyone with a step parent and felt different. Now it's just daily conversation, which is a really good thing.