My journey into alternative relationship styles would not be well rounded if I ignored the elephant in the room. That thing that shapes our very early perception of relationships and in most cases determines how we do life. FAMILY.
Family for me, overall, is not a positive word. The biggest hurts in my life have come from my blood relatives and blood relatives of the 2 people I have married. This is true of those closest to me too. I have witnessed so much pain being inflicted on people I love...It's heartbreaking.
So, what happens when our culture tells us"blood is thicker than water" and "if your family doesn't love you, who will"? It leaves many people feeling like there is no hope of being loved in this "magical special way" that they've heard about but never experienced.
This year my journey of self discovery led me to believe that everyone is free to walk their own path and are responsible for their own choices. As people come and go they may share our path for a time but ultimately the factors keeping them there should be entirely their own choices. We rejoice in time spent with someone as their path lines up with us but wish them well when their journey diverges. It's our responsibility to surround ourselves with people who will enrich our lives and reinforce our positive choices.
I simply could not apply this to love relationships and friendships and ignore family, the primary influence of all our relationships.
There is no choice in family.
You are born there.
You are stuck there no matter what they do to you.
If every other relationship in our life is a choice why shouldn't family be?
Granted we do have certain obligations, to children who are underage and adults who are disabled. But that's really where the obligation ends. As adults we should assess all our relationships and ensure they are heathy and positive so that we can maintain an emotionally stable life. This is OUR responsibility. No one is going to do it for us. And just because someone is related does not mean that you have to include them in your life.
Let's take a step back for a moment. Imagine you have a friend with an emotionally abusive partner. They tell you story after story of how this person makes them feel and it's pretty much all bad. Your advice? Easy!! " You should definitely leave- you deserve so much better ".
Now, a friend with an emotionally abusive parent. They tell you story after story of how this parent makes them feel and it's pretty much all bad. Your advice? " Ohhh.. This is not good...but....it's your Dad" (or Mum)....and the sentence trails off accompanied but a sigh and a shrug.
Is anyone else seeing the inequity in this? Why on earth do you we "deserve the best" in our friendships and relationships and then have to settle for pain and hurt in our families.
We hear the word "love" a lot when people talk about families, but rarely the word "like".
Likability is so important in an ongoing adult relationship.
Why would you have someone in your life that you don't like?
I feel lucky that I like some of my family as people. And especially lucky that I like both of my adult children ( and I think they like me too!!). My son is non-verbal and autistic so I'm really just talking about my daughter now . But if she didn't like me I would not expect her to stay in a relationship with me out of obligation. Knowing that she choose to be in a relationship with me leaves me feeling way more special than thinking she is only there because she is a blood relative and she has obligations that she has to steel herself to keep.
A relative of mine recently told me she can no longer be in a relationship with me. Estrangement from family members (or family in-law) is not unfamiliar to me. In my life I've experienced it probably more than an average amount. However, this is the first time I have handled it well. This was my response ( it was a text conversation )
" I don't subscribe to the " family is everything " mindset. If I love you I love you, related or not. And I do love you xx But everyone has their own journey so if yours doesn't line up with mine I respect that. Take care, and you know where to find me. "
I actually do respect her honesty and her decision and I am not angry, just a little sad, but not even hurt. She is taking care of herself and no-one is going to do that for her. I am not ruling out her path lining up with mine again at some time in the future. There are no closed or locked doors.
At the end of the day we are all responsible for our own path and who we choose to have in our lives is our responsibility. We need to make those choices carefully, based on our assessment of whether someone is good for us or bad for us.
Whether or not the good people in your lives are blood related or not should not make a difference.
I'll leave you with this, the original text of a very misinterpreted quote:
"The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”