Monday, January 5, 2015

They Call Us Family

In my novel They Call Me Crazy, family plays a major role: the damage and pain family can cause one another, dysfunction, and discovering who your family really is. Although my own experiences are not in any way reflected in the book, I can relate to the issues of pain and dysfunction, and most recently, discovery.

Of course, there are those that I consider 'family' that are in no way related, but in the past few years, I have started to reconnect with blood relatives. Uncles, Aunts, Cousins, some that I haven’t seen
since we were children, some I had never met before. It has been a wonderful experience, getting to know those that have the same genes but took different paths, and making friendships that I wish I had made many years ago.

Although many of us have not been around each other ever, we have some similar characteristics; we are outgoing and outspoken (trying to get a word in is a challenge), we have mastered the art of sarcastic humor, and we have all had some unbelievable challenges in our lives but fought through. In other words, we understand each other without having been there for each other, and we are comfortable in each others presence.
I feel safe when I’m with them; we don’t trade punches, we don’t judge. There is a special kind of peace that comes with that.

I often wonder if we would have been so close if we had maintained a relationship throughout our lives, or if a major part of our connection is that we have faced hurdles, alone, which made us stronger. Of course I could look back and ponder for years, but I will choose to be thankful that I have them now, and can move forward
with them in my life.

I know several people who have family members they don’t talk to and some they don’t even know. I get it. Sometimes, family can be cruel, and it’s more painful than a friend or acquaintance treating you badly, because you can ‘get rid’ of acquaintances. But your genes cannot be replaced.

 Regardless, your family is the one you were born into. You can deny that, but you can’t change that.

I am not here to encourage everyone to apologize, make amends, and find the value in their own. As I said, I get it, some wounds are very deep and hard to heal, some may never heal. But, remember, they are your wounds. You are hurting no-one but yourself. And you may find that an infusion of your own blood is the best way to treat yourself. I can only hope that everyone can find the strength within themselves to try. It may not work. But it may be a life changing experience.

Again, I understand, not all families can get together and have a lovefest. In fact, had someone suggested it to me ten years ago, I would have laughed about my only family’s ability to do so. But one by one, we have connected, and have decided to build a home of many different bricks, Stones in our case, and make it strong, and we will continue to build it. Because in the end, having a place where you feel safe and welcome is priceless. 
And for me, blood is the foundation that makes it strong.