All I can say with certainty is that I certainly have hope that time is healing my family. I can also easily say that I finally feel like I am finding a better balance between my professional and personal life again. Still, my most popular CEO blog posts are all related to my Dad or his fiancée. I have never shied away from being transparent about my personal life because, although as a professional I know it is risky to do in this technology driven age, I want to live an authentic life which I do not feel ashamed about. With that in mind, I still feel like answering this question is still valid for the CEO of a Motivational Speakers Bureau.
So again, I am considering: Is Time Healing the Issues from My Most Popular Posts? Occasionally, I am faced with an intense reminder of how fractured my immediate family became as a result of my parent’s divorce. Luckily, the pain has dulled as the months have gone by and turned into years. The fact that my Dad, Ken Williams Sr., was able to step down from the limelight of the General Manager position with the White Sox and keep a role as the Executive Vice President was actually helpful. However, his fiancée, Zoraida Sambolin’s return to the local Chicago TV media specifically NBC5 is causing more frequent reminders that are somewhat discomforting. Fortunately, I do not have cable TV in my home nor do I need it. Still, that doesn’t prevent me from noticing the commercials promoting her return to the morning news and I am sure it is only a matter of time before I see a billboard with her image. For awhile, I had to make a conscious effort not to look in the social section of magazines like Chicago Social or Essence because seeing pictures of my Dad with his new significant other simply stirred up too many different emotions. The two worst being the pain of rejection and the sense of abandonment by my Dad even to this day. The experts say there are 5 stages of grief but I do not want to figure out which stage I am currently in.
So, I will share what I know to be signs of progress on my part. First, let me state that I no longer reach out to my Dad because I feel I went out of my way to set an example of unconditional love and forgiveness which he still has from me. However, I simply believe time will have to do its work in allowing Dad and other estranged Williams family members namely: Maw Maw, Grandpaw, and Kenny Jr. to see and understand my everlasting love for them which even my Mom struggles to understand. When that time comes I am sure they will each reach out to me and I will welcome that even if comes 15 years later but hopefully the next holiday will change things.
Grandpaw, Maw Maw, Me, Uncle Glen and Auntie Trease in 2009
Progress Sign #1 Recently, I was sincerely thankful and overjoyed when my Great-Uncle Glen and I recently reconnected via my personal Facebook page. Our expressions of love were later attacked by my Dad’s Mom Maw Maw. Instead of lashing out at her the same way she lashed out at me about a conversation that did not even directly involve her, I was able to respond with sincerity and kindness.
Dad and I Father’s Day 2010
Progress Sign #2 I saw a family photo which Z submitted to People and it did not hurt to the extent which I expected it would. Then again the picture did not include my brothers: Kenny Jr. now estranged, my always more reserved brother Kyle, or my baby brother Tyler all of whom I was raised with. Perhaps, that is a sign that my Dad and Z’s definition of a modern family does not include fully embracing adult children (all of my Dad’s kids biological and adopted are over the age of 21). Still, I remember and have many pictures of my Dad bear-hugging me the same way he hugs Sofia in the picture submitted to People magazine and that leaves a bittersweet feeling.
Progress Sign #3 I am now able to see Zoraida’s cancer as a potential Blessing in disguise for the same reasons she mentions in one of her many interviews. And, I realized this for the first time while very recently watching for the first time ever a video of Zoraida where she speaks personally about her cancer. The most impactful piece of the segment came when her son Nico spoke at the 2:15 mark about his concern that my Dad would leave his Mom. I once had that very same concern and it came true. As children you don’t want to see your parents unhappy or abandoned just like they don’t want that for you. Yet, I could feel for Nico because his parents are recently divorced and I reached out to Nico once cautioning him about that possibility. Perhaps, she will be able to help my Dad fully emerge out of the darkness of the end of my parent’s marriage even more than she already has and truly enable him to continually better understand the fear that comes with facing inevitable death and in, some cases, more finite time than we realize.
My Dad has always been a stoic person and I saw his stoicism in the aforementioned video with Nico. These days when I think of Dad Tom Hanks’ lines: “there’s no crying in baseball” from “A League of Their Own” always comes to mind. The truth of the matter is I actually thought my Dad would never speak to me again after I called off my own wedding engagement in 2009 and for a time he did not but my Mom was my advocate. She was still able to communicate directly with my Dad at the time and convinced him not to abandon our father-daughter bond. My parents had already shown signs of cracks in their marriage while I was starting to plan that wedding. And, as my engagement unraveled, my Mom shared with me that the differences in opinion that both my Mom and Dad shared and were in conflict with what my fiancée and I wanted for my wedding actually (albeit briefly) brought my parents closer together. So when Zoraida says things like “I entered a dark place . . . not once did I think about not achieving career or material success. Rather, I thought about all the missed moments in life and how I was not ready to sacrifice missing any more. I wanted to live to see my kids grow up. I wanted more soccer games, basketball games, proms, weddings, grandchildren. . . . I am healthy, cancer free and strong but I know a long life is not promised.” I simply wonder how a comment like that resonates with my Dad especially as it relates to his own family. My Mom thinks I should stop referring to him as my Dad but I do not understand how she could even suggest I forget the fact that he raised me. Mom brought me to tears with that suggestion this past Christmas. I had to tell her that I choose not to behave the same way my Dad does. He may choose to ignore my existence in his life but I do not have to follow his example.
The hope is still in my heart that the havoc and pain caused by a multitude of things happening in rapid succession throughout 2009 and 2010: leaving my job with the intention of moving to be with my fiance, calling off my wedding engagement, my parents split and eventual divorce, and my finally revealing that I was raped will eventually fade away. A trusted confidant once described all this as the “perfect storm” of my life. In case you have not see the movie or heard of this term it means: a particularly bad or critical state of affairs, arising from a number of negative and unpredictable factors. Yet, I understand that all of those feelings from that particular time were still so extraordinarily raw and in a long healing process even in 2011. In 2012, when I found out I was expecting my own baby girl and got married (yes, in that order), my ability to heal my feelings and focus on bringing my little angel into a positive environment was increased greatly. But, I had to come to grips with the fact that the positive environment would not yet include her grandfather/my Dad, Kenny Jr., Maw Maw, or Grandpaw and still does not to this day. And, I know that everything I went through watching the painstakingly slow demise of my parents marriage prepared me for facing the still to-be-determined by a judge Legal Separation or Dissolution of my own marriage to my absent husband NASH Belton. Couples who have been married well beyond thirty years have been known to say getting married is the easy part and staying together is the true test of strength in a marriage. To this day, I remain focused on creating a happy home and surroundings for my own daughter. Over time I have learned that we are truly strengthened by the challenges and losses we experience in life. So to answer my own question, yes time is still healing my past and more time needs to pass to overshadow the void created by “a separation between things that were or ought to be connected (divorce as defined by the Oxford Dictionaries).” More importantly, I am enjoying every present moment of my life and focused on the great future ahead professionally and personally. So, bring on those wedding pictures, Dad and Z (not Kanye and Kim), I think I will be ready when your big day finally arrives. The only constant in life is change and time has been preparing me well. I know in my heart that one day my broken relationships will be repaired.