This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I happen to come from an extremely dysfunctional family. Alcoholism, drug addiction, every form of abuse, generations of divorce, and mental illness run through all lines of my family tree. I’m the second generation to cut all ties with my family because they’re not good for me. My mom was the first. She taught me an important lesson early on…. family is who you choose.
I remember her talking about a woman she met in the months following her divorce from my father. Her name was Bernice. Bernice was my mom’s adopted mother. She modeled herself after her in many ways. She got the mothering she needed from Bernice she was never able to get from my grandmother. She forgave her parents and siblings for the hurts. She always told me her parents did the best they could with what they had. In this instance, I’m not talking about financial resources. Emotional resources and life skills.
She cut ties with her siblings long before I was born. She made friends in AA and Alanon who became our family.
My siblings are all so much older than me that I was essentially an only child. If any of you are only children, you know that you develop relationships and friendships differently. Friends are much more valued and closer. You also develop the ability to entertain yourself in ways families with more children do. Independence is a good way of expressing it. I also grew up pretty fast. I don’t mean sexually… I was an extremely late bloomer. I mean in how I communicated with adults. It took many years for me be on the same level of my peers…. into my twenties before we were really the same.
Back to framily!!! I hear so many people talking about how important family is and that you should forgive no matter what. I can tell you this idea pisses me off more than most. If you had a boyfriend or husband who battered you, everyone would tell you to let them go… move on. Yet the same things happen within families without change and the attitude changes. Somehow, it’s ok because they’re family. I call bullshit!!
There was an instance with a member of my husband’s family shortly after we got married. I’m not telling stories out of school. He’s fine with this. This cousin had not met me, so she got on board with a bunch of rather insane people she knows and they bombarded me on social media. To the point of accusing me of murdering my husband. It was horrific!!! My husband was livid!!! He cut ties with her. Done. Not because I asked him to, but because she was so out of line and wouldn’t accept reality. I blocked her along with all of the other nuts. He were are several months later and I have a new social media account. I tagged my husband in a picture of us and the cousin thought it a good idea to 1. LOVE the photo and 2. Send me a friend request. I denied the request. I sent her a message stating she’s caused undo drama and harm in my life and I want nothing to do with her. I asker her again to leave me alone. Moments later I got an angry response about how I should forgive and move on. She feels sorry for my husband being with me.
This is case and point for my deal about family not being any different than any other person. She did not offer an apology or even acknowledge she hurt me or was wrong. I’d expect this of anyone. She thought that somehow being extended family gave her a right to be in my life. Hurting people isn’t ok at any time. If you do hurt someone, go back and attempt to amend the situation. Even making an amends does not mean the person is required to forgive you or want anything to do with you.
I watch so many people struggle to maintain relationships with family where they’re hurt so badly. I hear so many people shame those of us who make the decision to cut ties for personal safety and mental health. Being family hasn’t got a tinker’s dam to do with being good for you or good to you. I can’t reitterate this enough.
I have friends that love me to the ends of the earth and will always be there. They were there through really hard times. They love and support me in the way a healthy family is supposed to. These people love me for who and what I am regardless of my past, regardless of making mistakes. These people are my Family!
If the family you were born into doesn’t feel good. If it hurts and just doesn’t get better. If you try and it’s not working. It’s OK to not keep them in your life. Build the family you want and need and have always dreamed of. It’s out there. There are lots of us out there who have framilies and are looking for one more!