copyright Bettina Network, inc. 2011
“It is that time of year when the exodus starts – from home to school; from what is known culturally, socially, economically, food-wise and more to something new. It is the Exodus from, not the biblical-type Exodus to. For some of us that biblical Exodus will never happen. For the lucky few, that biblical-type Exodus back will be a life-fulfilling time. Having resided in those hallowed halls, the biblical-type Exodus brings a handful back home.
For others, – the unsuspecting, the innocent, the thoughtless, – friends are left behind; relatives are left behind; old institutions which formed a comfort level for most of us are left behind and even our identities are shed and strip-searched. Everything is ripe for forming new attachments, new loyalties, new cultural mores, food habits, clothes styles, friends, and we attach ourselves to new institutions. Most poignantly we adopt new identities without even being aware of that process happening. We feel the pain of the change, but because this is all such an integral part of the society in which we live and because this has all been pictured to us in ways which remove our defenses and understandings, we simply feel the discomfort, the frustration, the confusion that comes from putting in place our new identities. At one time in history these many would have been called the strivers. They are the ones who will succeed beyond their own and anyone else’s expectations because they have that something which brought them out of their own to this new territory without incident, question or immediate guilt.
And yes, what arrives for all in this process is the guilt. A new kind of guilt which will neither surface nor grow for at least a decade. A slowly developing guilt from actions that, to those of us in this process – in our late teens to mid-twenties – has nothing to do with guilt, but is simply life moving ahead.
In this re-ordering process, the new identity is what will be most troublesome over the next several decades. If we are not upper-middle class Northern European we will re-order our family relationships drastically. To move ahead in this ’new’ society we must cut off and keep family at arms length. They will expose our background, our class, the economic base from which we’ve come and more. The exceptions who are used to disprove the rule, are allowed to move ahead and keep family and there are not many of them. They can discretely keep some family around. The others have to move away from family. Find fault with them, keep them at arms length because whatever is wrong is their fault so they will not walk into this beautiful – though painful – place with us.”
Ed. Note: This is a small excerpt from a letter we received from a former guest. He had been part of a conversation around the breakfast table in one of the bed & breakfast homes in the Bettina Network, inc. when parents were bringing their children to college and he was doing the same thing. The conversation from a couple older parents, who are now grandparents was about how they missed their children who were “busy”, had very little time to ‘come home’ and from whom they heard very seldom.
Over the years he has stayed in other homes in the Bettina Network, inc., was a part of conversations with parents who had effectively been ignored by their children for decades and he was beginning to experience the same thing.
We have not put the entire letter in this blog because it is very painful to read and revealed a lot of information personal to the guest. We don’t know your experience, but over the years this certainly parallels many conversations we’ve had with parents as their children left home for school and the years that followed cut them almost totally out of their children and grandchildren’s lives.
The end of his letter follows:
“What is most painful about having packed up my children several years ago – one at a time – and brought them to college – and then to watch them grow away from all of us is the thought that this is what I did to my parents. Without even a thought; not realizing the pain it must have caused them. I became part of the prior generation – leaving home – establishing a very successful career – and looking back today on my childhood and family, which I miss terribly, but can’t replace or even belatedly go back to visit because they are all dead. I did everything I was raised to do – finished college, established a business and now am living comfortably several steps above where my family lived financially and class-wise. But in the end, when I look back, what I wanted and expected was to finish college, go home and move ahead with my life in the context of family – my family. To have grown and maintained my original identity was my goal, although not put in those terms as a young person. That was taken away from me without either my knowledge or consent. How did that happen? Is this how a multi-national economy is formed, grown, expanded? Was I fodder for that process and are my children the new fodder needed for this to continue? I don’t think I even like the new identity I put in its place.”
We hope it is not your experience, but we add it to Bettina’s Blog because the guest sent it for the blog and because we think it is illuminating to life today. Your comments are welcome.
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