I have switched my tactics up. I now write journal chapters for my long personal thoughts and journal paragraphs for a quick quip on a partial thought. Today I am thinking about my family, that is definitely a chapter kind of blog.
When I was a very small child, “family” felt like it was everything. That was when my Mawmaw and Pawpaw were still alive. We spent Christmas Eve first delivering presents (Dad dressed as Santa) to his brother’s house and then we went to my Ma’s parents’ house. We surrounded ourselves with people who shared the commonality of DNA. As I grew older, I learned of the petty fighting and back stabbing that went on inside of our unit. It was disheartening. When I left for New York, there were a number of people for whom I was content to never see or speak to again, people who were a large chunk of my childhood. People who were toxic to everyone around them.
Dad passed away in October and my connections to his side of the family will, undoubtedly, fade away from me with the exception of two of his brothers, three cousins and my step-sister. To say that I feel a surge of relief over that would be an understatement. I am sure there are some on that side who will feel equal portions of relief as my demanding accountability is gone now that he is gone. There are some distant relatives who added me on Facebook who I am not “connected” to, as I do not really know them. They added me through my social media posts about first Ma’s health and then Daddy’s. I am ok with their being left on the roster, they do not bother me.
I was adopted to that side of the family. Daddy adopted me when I was three(ish). He has been the best Father a child could ever hope for. However, I never felt connected to his side of the family, as I did Ma’s. Nana (Daddy’s mom) was the light of my life though. But it wasn’t until I was an adult and bought my parents’ house next to hers that our relationship grew. I miss Nana so much.
With Ma’s side, in retrospect, it seemed like we were voyeuristic in the fact that there were people who were definitely NOT liked but we seemed to keep around just to see what their next “fuck up” would be. Those people are the first ones that I cut from my life when I had the opportunity as an adult. The first opportunity I had, I cut out my aunt who prayed in her church for my Ma’s death while she was still years away from it. When it came time for my Ma’s wake, the funeral home called me and asked if I would be ok with the aunt paying condolences prior to the services. I said yes. Not because I am the “bigger person” but because I knew that in death, forgiveness can be sought but never received. A piece of me was good with her begging for an unanswered resolution. My other Aunt is my connection to Ma. When I have family genealogy questions, I reach out to her. When I do something I am proud of, she gives me kudos. I am thankful for her, because my connection to “family” was always about Ma’s side of the family.
Nowadays, as far as family goes, my circle is very small. I concentrate on Husband, kids, in-laws and the self-made family of friends that I have. The notion that you have to love people because you share DNA with them is foreign to me, though my Ma felt it. I love people who honestly love me in return. I “chose” the family I want around me. It is a healthier place to be in life.
Do you struggle with feeling you have to love family members because they are family and not because they deserve it? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.