Family. What comes to mind? Comfort? Craziness? There are a million words and feelings associated with that word. It’s a complicated dynamic that encompasses a lot of baggage. It’s like one of those 1000 piece puzzles. I am consistently “almost there” in understanding my family, then Aunt Catastrophe bumps into me and a few pieces fall off the table. Uncle Scapegoat throws a fit along with his coat, while cousin cautious tries to pick up the pieces and put them back in place before anyone gets hurt.
In life, we experience ups and downs with our family. Major events such as marriage, childbirth, sickness, divorce and death, in addition to those come holiday drama, infertility, affairs, parenting issues, etc… Not placing more or less importance on any of these, but you follow what I am saying, right? Most of these occur over the course of a life time. What is the absolute here? Family. Some people do not know their biological parents. Myself, for example, only met my father once. I never knew his side of the family. We all come from the same thing, an anxious egg and a lucky sperm. After that, we all have a different experience. Regardless of how big or how small, happy or miserable, blood related, adopted or married, we all have a family.
I mentioned not knowing my father or his side of the family. I spent most of my life feeling sorry for myself because I didn’t have a father. At 38 years old, I am beginning to see his absence as more of a blessing than a curse. An entire extra family I don’t have to deal with. The less dramatic bullshit I am in the middle of, the better. My mom’s side, the side in which I grew up, holds enough craziness to fill up 2 families. Getting caught in the middle of family drama is like accidentally standing in front of a dart board at the bar. It is neither planned nor intentional, but there you are. Front and center. Dodging the darts and beer. But there is too much to evade and you only have two hands.
We can assume that all families are dysfunctional on some level. Nobody is perfect at communication, therefore a perfect family is impossible. Happy families are, however, a possibility. For example, I imagine families gather all over America for holiday dinners without screaming accusations or tossing chairs across the living room. I know these ridiculous actions take place in some families over a he said /she said argument, or jealousy and entitlement over which crystal vase grandma left to whom. Back when my family functioned as a healthy family, I’ll say 25 years ago, all 16 of us crammed into Gramma’s one bedroom apartment for a Turkey dinner. I am the youngest in the family, so I don’t remember the fighting, but something huge happened. After a couple years, we no longer gathered together. There were 4 siblings and 8 grand kids. Gramma and Grandpa, who were already divorced, ended up turning half the family against the other half. Most likely over money. Which in hindsight, is always trivial when you consider people’s lives and feelings. I imagine on my death bed, I won’t be thinking about money. It’s a shame we spend so much of our lives stewing over it.
To this day, the 4 siblings: my mom, two aunts and one uncle, will not speak to each other unless it is an absolute necessity. Grandpa and Gramma are both deceased. The cousins are scattered. And our children don’t even know they have second cousins. It is very sad what happened to our family, especially for the kid’s sake. I am sure they wonder why no one is together. One day when they are adults, they will realize that acting like a child only makes things worse. And of course they will need to explain to their future family why our family is dysfunctional. Hopefully the cycle can be broken. I am doing my part to ensure my kids and their kids don’t end up arguing like they are on the Maury Povich show.
I envision my family in three branches. My mom’s side or the blood side. My girlfriend’s family which is my newly adopted family. And lastly, my ex husband’s family or my kids’ dad’s family. My ex’s family is what brings me to write this. They are the source of my eternal frustration. How can so much hypocrisy exist among a few people with the same last name? I am overwhelmed by their shallowness and continually surprised at their ignorance.
Briefly, let me explain why my current situation allows me to see clearly how screwed up my past situations were. Hind sight is a beautiful thing, realizing what was missing is a gift. Problems or major issues do not plague my current family. There is nothing that hovers over all of our heads with gloom. In the end, love always prevails. In the morning, the light blinds us, in a good way, to what the previous night entailed, if by chance there was a disagreement. It is a beautiful process I am blessed to be a part of, and only hope to remain inside it’s warm walls. My children are finally seeing what a happy relationship looks like, what a healthy disagreement sounds like, and what unconditional love feels like. And most importantly, that family is not defined by or confined to blood relation.
Okay, those are the tolerable ones. Now, the ex. I always knew my ex’s parents were flaky and oblivious. My father in law is from a small town in Montana, and I mean really small. The kind of place with one Post Office and five taverns. Nothing to do in an old mining town but be a drunk. I think when he moved here he never checked out, never bothered to absorb any new intelligence. He just opted to stay in the dark. My mother in law is from here in the city, but something must have happened, like too much tanning bed exposure, or possibly the disappearance of too many brain cells from Grey Goose Vodka. Maybe it’s Jesus. She claims to love Him, but that, in my experience, tends to leave people a little dumb. She’s one those “Christians” who looks at you with the deepest concern and says she is going to pray for you. And you just know she doesn’t, it’s just something she rattles off in every birthday card and before you know it, you’re rolling your eyes every time she says the word “pray.” This religious facade has become the biggest turn off for me. The only hypocrites I know are unfortunately individuals who claim Jesus as their co-pilot. I am patiently awaiting the inevitable crash.
My ex’s family can be compared to a wart I cut off and it just keeps growing back. They continually push their way to the front of the list of things that give me a headache. And warts are ugly. I associate my ex husband with ugly things and ugly times. Lately, it seems, circumstances are accumulating and I need to cut off this wart for good. It’s not healthy. Oh, and did I mention it’s ugly?
Actually, the more I reflect on this, the more it feels like they have cut me off. While trying to figure out what my feelings are in this scattered puzzle, I realize that I am angry at them for judging me from a distance. If you want to make an observation and then a statement about my life, come and live with me. At least know me and see me on a regular basis before you throw accusations. Both of my ex’s parents have written me off, along with his cousins, among other family members who won’t talk to me. This hurts. Mainly because it is directly hurting my kids. I would assume that these people would want some contact with the two amazing children they once adored and saw on a regular basis. No. It’s like all of a sudden, their brains have been possessed by preschoolers fighting over crayons, and they are stomping their feet while saying, “I don’t want to be your friend anymore!”
They obviously have never heard of taking the higher road. I have never witnessed or been the direct lashing of such childish behavior. It actually shocks me. I should be used to it, and at the very least, expect it. It doesn’t matter to them what my ex did to me or our kids. In their opinion, I am the bad person. Maybe it’s because of my new relationship and family. I guess it’s okay to beat your wife and use her as a sex slave, but god forbid being a lesbian. If they are so disgusted by my relationship, maybe they should get on the next train back to Shallowville. I have no tolerance for ignorant people anymore. They just don’t realize how clueless they are. That says it all right there. You can’t realize you’re clueless if you don’t know anything. If you chose to walk the narrow and closed minded path, you’re going to end up in Mindlessville.
Let me just say that I love my children. I know their father loves them as well. But there are circumstances which follow all choices, in his case, thoughtless choices driven by drug abuse. I may one day allow him a little grace if he ever proves himself, because I know the kids miss him terribly. His family however, are a group of ignorant robots being blindly led by the blood of the lamb. Go ahead and judge me. I laugh at you and your stupidity. I am going to hell because I sleep next to another woman? I’ll shout that from the roof tops before I ever claim being a Christian. It took a long time, but I can finally declare that I am where I am supposed to be. I am with who I am supposed to be with. My kids are loved and secure. I am proud of how far I have come the last 3 years. And for all the brave individuals whose families do not support them because of their own ignorance? You can take that shit down the street in a package addressed to 123, Idiot Lane, Unschooled City, Cluelessville County, Misinformed, USA.