Forget Family : 30 Days of Truth

(Note:  Originally Authored on June 14, 2012.  Since, read The Family Furnace and The Scorpion and The Frog).

Day 10 : Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.

This is a rather difficult post, because most of the people that I could’ve written about in this topic were let go years ago throughout certain circumstances.  A lot of things change when a person gets married, and even more so when a person has a child.  Many people fall away, as a result of the social structure changing. Even so, many people were disassociated voluntarily, most through unfavorable circumstances.  That being a marriage to a highly desired man.  Or, a certain amount of jealousy toward my family and the woman no one expected me to become.  And lastly, over interpersonal struggles that had been present for many years.

Plainly said, I don’t allow a person to exist in my life who does me harm.

With one exception.

Family.  An antiquated notion anymore, and yet we all still are drawn to the traditional definition of such.

What is family?  It has different meanings to different people.  For some, especially many that were raised by people that are not related by blood, family are the people closest to you, care for you, and treat you as if you belong.  They are the people who love you unconditionally, and would do anything to oversee your health, safety, well-being and general welfare.

For others, family are the people that are kin by blood, or by marriage through blood.  These are the same people that share genetic matter with one another.  It is the blood that bonds, and should generate those protective and loving emotions.  The family contains a mother, father, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins (however distant), and grandmothers and grandfathers (however prefixed with great or otherwise).  It is the hierarchy that provides the structure and governs the family system.

In this setup, certain rules of conduct exist.  Family members are expected to treat others with a kind regard and respect at all times.  Family members are not permitted to have all-out fights, as it insinuates contempt for another, and spells a potential of a deviation from the family.  Although, if there is a deviation from the family system, that person is excluded, because they abandoned their duties to the family, meaning that they have not the love required.  Family members are obligated to each other, even when there is a dislike between two members.  Dislike can exist, but can never be expressed openly.  And family members are private, to be kept within the family system.  No outsiders.

The second is my family system.  The family system that attempts to replicate those of 1950′s television families, and falls incredibly short.  The reality of a family and the fantasy of the television family cannot intersect, because there is no commonality, except the tradition of family.

Now, I come from a heavy Scottish heritage.  Scots are notorious for their clans and said allegiances.  The thing about clans is that they are often family.  And the thing about rival clans is that they are often family, too.  They are several branches of family that had irreconcilable differences, due mostly to conflicting views and stubbornness against compromise.  Scots are a proud people and intensely loyal.  And that’s how a Scottish family system operated.  Family looked out for each other, because if they didn’t, who would?  And chances are, if you weren’t affiliated with a clan or didn’t follow a clan’s way, then you would be abandoned and left for dead.

What does this all have to do with someone I need to let go of?  I need to let go of the antiquated version of family I grew up with.  I need to expel the notions of the Cleaver family, and realize that it is nonexistent.  Well, in my family anyway.

Everyone in this world has at least one secret desire that they know is absolutely impossible for them.  That is exactly why it is a secret.  One of my secret desires is to have family that unconditionally loves me, and treats me like I belong.  I have always desperately wanted parents who treated me like they appreciated my individuality, and could come to terms with the fact that I am not the child they envisioned.  I’ve always wanted them to be proud and express positive emotions toward me.  I wanted loving parents, who weren’t afraid to say they love me, and show physical affection.

I wanted an extended family that I could really know.  Scots are notorious for their huge families.  I mean, that’s how you grow the clan, right?  I have a huge extended family.  I’ve stated this before, but my “sister” is not biologically my sister, from the same parents.  We are related by blood as third cousins.  Yes, my family is close enough that I know my third cousins.  My son and her son will likely grow up as family, cousins, although according to the state of Pennsylvania, they are not related.  (5th cousins.  Who can say they know their 5th cousin?)  But, as my extended family goes, my sister is the only one I continue to have a good relationship with.

I knew my Pappap.  We had a fantastic relationship before he passed.  I miss him.  I really do.  The anniversary of his death is coming up – 16 years ago.  And he was the head of our clan.  Hell, he was the head of two branches of our clan.  (That’s how I know my sister’s family at all).  And when he passed, the glue of our family started coming apart.  He was the only thing that held it together.

But, just because my Pappap held the family together does not mean we were apart of each others lives.  In fact, quite the contrary.  My aunt, also serving in the capacity of my godmother, made the attempt.  The fact was, she just didn’t like children.  Another aunt of mine lived in distant California.  Another aunt of mine was just too jealous of the fact that my mother had a daughter and she had two unruly boys.  Another aunt of mine was a part of my life, and really was my friend.  Until she met her now husband and moved away.  Then, there was my young uncle, a bachelor and professional.  He hardly made an appearance at any of these events.  We were quite estranged for many reasons.  Many that I couldn’t understand at the time.

As a teen, the question always lingered in my mind; Why don’t I belong in my own family?  If I didn’t belong anywhere else in the world, why couldn’t I seem to fit into my family.  In theory, there should have been a guaranteed spot where I would be accepted, understood, and loved unconditionally.  But, as I grew more symptomatic, the more I was pushed away.  The gap was noticeable at that point, and I came to the realization that I didn’t fit some kind of mould that was created for me.  I wasn’t a lovely blonde girl with big blue eyes who spoke softly, smiled sweetly, and was brilliant in a humble way.  I was something entirely different, almost monstrous.

It was at that time that I discarded any sentiments that I could fit in, because I knew it was just not possible for me.  And I stopped trying.  It actually inspired me to attempt to embody everything that was the opposite of what was expected of me.  I didn’t want to conform, because I did not want to “belong” to anyone.  Love should not have contingencies, and I should not be expected to be anyone but myself.  That should be more than good enough to people who call themselves “family” to me.

That does not mean I discarded my longing for family.  Family are the people who love you, no matter what.  Feats or failures.  Achievements or disappointments.  They are the people who help you, not out of obligation, but because they really want to see you in a better place.  They don’t judge you.  They don’t hold grudges or debts.  Family should be the people that are guaranteed confidants, supports, fail safes, and friends.

I longed for parents who would provide me with support, affection, and guidance.  I longed for grandparents who would fawn over me, and lend me wisdom.  I longed for cousins that could be friends.  I so desperately desired aunts and uncles that could teach me about life, give insight on my parents and adulthood in general, and be confidants.  Instead, I got parents that berated me for being me, and gave up on parenting altogether when I turned seventeen, because in truth, they didn’t really want to be parents at all.  I lost my grandfather young, and ended up with a grandmother who was indifferent to her grandchildren.  (According to my mother, she was indifferent to most of her children too.  I don’t take that personally).  I had cousins who held a grudge because I was “the baby” and the only girl on this coast.  My eldest cousin resented me for having the responsibility for looking after me during family events and vacations.  I had an aunt who despised my existence, and another who attempted to use me as a surrogate child, and later decided she wasn’t cut out for kids.

And between all of these people, throughout the years, silent grudges and resentment started opening up.  I had realized that I was caught by accidental crossfire, but it hurt just the same.  All of the trauma still follows me, and I’ve felt like the only resolution would be to have that ideal family.

I need to let the notion of family go.  The only way to resolve that trauma is to understand that definition of family is not the only definition of family.  I didn’t have a mother for guidance.  I stumbled around adolescence and had to find my way to womanhood alone.  I didn’t have a father in the traditional “daddy’s little girl” sense.  I had a dictator, who wasn’t much of a male role model for later men in my life.  I had to fumble my way around dating and men myself.  And in the end, I still ended up with a man much like my father, without the hands-on approach to family.

I need to give up on the idea that my parents will suddenly become parents, even though their sudden appearance as grandparents gave me false hope.  They are who they are, and they’ll always regard me as the person I am, no matter how much I grow and change.  My mother said to me, with a sigh, “I see a lot of myself in you.  A lot of the things that you tell me about your . . . mind, it rings a bell.”  It gave me false hope.  It gave me this idea that she would become my mother and help me in hard times of my marriage and parenting.  But, I know she won’t.  My father will never be a father to me.  He hardly ever was.  He is at least a friend now, anyway.  But, he’ll never brag to his friends about his beautiful, intelligent, talented daughter.  He’ll never express pride or admiration toward me.  Neither of them will.

That’s the way it is.  I need to let go of my family and let it be what it is, instead of hoping that it will suddenly turn into something it never was, and never will be.

8 thoughts on “Forget Family : 30 Days of Truth

  1. you know, I always have longed for the same kind of family you speak of. My relationship did change however. Still though, if I weren’t the well behaved person I am now. They would still not accept me fully. Being an only child, I never really knew the truth about what a family was supposed to be like. The only example I had were shows like “Leave it to Beaver” lol. I was kept from any family or neighbor that wasn’t up to my parent standard. So, It was really interesting when I had my own family with siblings and all. But even as hard as I tried to give them that feeling of always being there for each other, I now have an estranged daughter to deal with. Family o9f any kind is a complicated thing.

    • I’m an only child in a two ways. My sister is not my biological sister, and she was more like a part time sister. And my brother has autism. I didn’t really even know how the world worked until I was out in it.

      Interesting fact – I ate dinner at 5PM every single night until I moved out of my parents’ house. My brother had an OCD component to his autism, and it was pretty severe. My life was highly ritualized and often inconvenient for me. Many people go through that phase of wild adult independence. I went through it double. Once for all of the things I couldn’t do under my parents room, and another for being free of all of the things I had to do.

      Another interesting fact – my extended family used to have monthly (or more) functions. It was always for someone’s birthday or something, but I didn’t realize it was not the norm until I was an adult. Most families only see each other one major holidays. After awhile and so much BS, we don’t even do that anymore. My family uninvited us to major holidays by claiming they just don’t have the function anymore. What a lie! (Not like I want to go. I just don’t like someone lying to my face.)

      So, becoming an adult was a really earth shaking experience.

      I don’t run my household like my parents. Yes, I am the parent with the iron fist, but my son seems to recognize that as a good thing. (For now). Everyone is pretty much free to do what they want to do within reason. I don’t enjoy keeping a tight schedule, so I don’t. I get kind of upset when I have any kind of silly bind, because it usually upsets me greatly to have it broken. Like, cooking dinner and having Xan come home late.

      (I don’t cook dinner for just me, and Beast is in the picky eater phase, so he eats something different).

      I had TV families like “Full House” and “Roseanne” and “Step by Step” to show me that families came in all shapes and sizes. I had friends with all different kinds of setups, and a ton of friends whose parents eventually ended up going through divorces. I’m not sure if I’m better or worse for them staying together. But, I’ll tell you this. My parents made it clear to me that I was lucky not to be a TV family like them. I had two parents, and a family that was whole.

      Now that I’m older, I realize it was a whole lot of bullshit.

      And LaLa, I know your daughter will come back around. She just has to see it for herself. I’ve said this before, as long as a parent is trying with all that they have, then they aren’t failing. They are doing right by their kid. Your daughter seems to just be at that age. I know I’m sitting here and making determinations about the nature of my relationship with my parents and having it be a little more casual, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to completely erase them. Even after everything that’s happened.

      Your daughter will come around. Because if I can manage to come around to mine, and you’ve got to be at least a dozens times better than my parents, then she will too.

      • I was too liberal in raising my daughter. She has BPD and it was like walking on eggshells raising her. So, I pretty much let her do what she wanted. The onset of our distance was an argument in which I told her how difficult raising her was. I should have not said anything like that. But her and I have always pulled out all the stops when arguing. She said many things that cut me to the quick too. A lot of this stems from her husband she is married to. He controls her and she wants to please him. It reminds me of how I was when I first got married to my jerk, I mean husband lol. We were so close before.
        AS far as ritualistic living, Since having an empty nest, I have enjoyed the rituals that have become a part of my life. It helps me mentally. You mentioning that you had dinner at 5:00 ever night made me think of how ever Friday we would go to the same resturaunt and order the exact same food every week as long as I can remember. It took me forever to start enjoying trying new places and new food to eat lol.

        • She will eventually figure the thing with her husband out. I know the feeling. I had that happen with every guy until my husband. And then, I tried to do that with my husband, and he ended up pretty unhappy. Why? Because I wasn’t being me. He showed me that he was happier with me being me than trying to be his fantasy woman. In truth, he told me, I’m better than her, because she is only a watered down version of me.

          She’ll get sick of it, and feel trapped, and she’ll realize exactly where she’s at. But, I don’t think that she realizes who is really wearing the leash and who is holding it. And the day that she does will be the day that she throws herself at you. How do I know this? Because I’ve been there on her end. Eventually, she’ll demonize him, whether it’s justified or not, and she’ll come to idealize you again.

          Don’t get down on yourself about how you parented her. It’s not your fault. You did the best you could with what you had, and that’s all you can do. i don’t beat myself up over Beast and the PDD-NOS anymore. I don’t even beat myself up over his delays. I’m doing the best that I can. Yes, he’s behind in a lot of domains, but he’s ahead in some. His spatial reasoning is amazing. He is amazingly manipulative for a four year old. Okay, almost four. He has a memory that is above and beyond for adults. And his singing, well, it’s good. It’s the only place where he has a remarkable language skill. But, every kid with ASD eventually shows memory advances and at least one talent.

          And that’s what I focus on. I know that I need to reinforce his strengths before I can start to go at any weakness. I go after his music, because it develops his language. He can memorize any song, and if I make it an interesting song, he’ll learn something. ABC’s and numbers up to 30 were done that way. He’s learned what holidays are through that.

          Maybe that’s just what you need for your daughter. Find that one connection, you know?

        • I have already determined in my mind that this will not last. She being BPD is not easily controlled usually, so I know that she is not being herself. She had a hard time “growing up” and I mean that literally. I allowed her stay a child a bit too long. Right now, she is trying to be an adult which is great. Still reminds me of my break from childhood-marriage lol. I am sure that you are doing a wonderful job with “beast” lol. He will amaze you for years to come.

        • Yeah, but what were you going to do, you know? You did what you could.

          When Beast was a baby, we just called him Bee, for Baby. Then, he grew into this enormous little tyrant of a child. So, we started called him Beast.

  2. So what I gather from what your saying is you need to let go of an idea rather than an actual person… And I’d like to say I think I have fit in to your idea of family and “Clan”. The Irish heritage is very similar and seeing I come from and Irish heritage I Share a similar belief. It’s just a shame that my actual blood relations didn’t make my Clan’s cut, but you, your husband, and a very small handful of people did I now keep in my life have, and I feel I am a better man because of it.

    • It is a clan, but that’s a bad thing. In both of these heritages, that’s how blood feuds get started. And those feuds run so deep that you’ll find generations of people who hate each other over an exchange that they really don’t understand and happened way before they were born. Worse is when the clan isolates itself so bad from rival clans (like mine) and becomes it’s own enemy. That’s a little more complicated in terms of the psychology of why a clan would isolate itself, etc. But, I won’t get into it.

      I wrote followups to this about how my family is now really just a little subset of my “clan”. And you know who my clan involves. I’m with Xan’s family now, and I’ve made a nice family out of the best of my friends. Moving away helped me gain perspective on this situation, and I’m better for it.

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