* Names have been changed to protect me.
Leigh - Born in a rainy part of the country, the oldest of more than half a dozen children. A bit resentful of her upbringing, for a million reasons, big and small. Her dad was abusive, though not tremendously so. Abusive is abusive, though, right? Married young. Just one child. Then a divorce, and more marriages and divorces. For decades, she has worked in a job she isn't happy with, but it mostly pays the bills. Friendly as all get out. She'll smile and talk to anyone she meets. Has a penchant for shopping. Likes to be shopped FOR, as well. Doesn't like herself in pictures, and rolls her eyes a LOT.
Natalie - Moved around a lot in her childhood, even out of the country. Father was an alcoholic, but he managed to (mostly) hide it during Natalie's young adult years. Married right out of high school and into a military life. Relocated internationally again. Close relationship with her mom, so she missed her while overseas. After years of being unable to conceive, she (they) adopt children. Then the marriage falls apart and she quickly marries the opposite of the first husband. Unsure of herself, but given a few raw materials, she can make beautiful things.
Summer - From a very broken, confusing family in the Midwest. Not a lot of money. Still makes it to college a little uncertain how to make it in the world (aren't we all at that point, probably even with good family background?) Marries. Works. Has kids. Divorces. Marries again. Divorces again. Marries again. Not quite ever sure where she's going. Turning to God, but burdened with guilt over those divorces and even things before the divorces. Has a deep, almost tragic desire to reach out and be needed at the same time.
Bridget - Hardworking Catholic parents. Kind of a gray childhood. Marries young. Husband takes her for granted and even cheats on her. Two children. Many years, then divorce. After all she's been through, she's more careful the second time around. Also, way more focused on herself, and this probably doesn't bode well for the children. Stays married, but some part of her past makes it difficult for her to just sit down and breathe sometimes. People like her and are drawn to her. She's fun, and generous. And longs for a part of her past that it turns out she never really understood.
These are women in my life. Some of the closest. And I'm pulling their stories together into one big story, and wondering how some of the common patterns have affected my life.