Friday, June 10, 2011

Family Ties

Families are crazy, crazy things. A group of individuals who share so much yet can be so very, very different. Brought together by chance or choice, bound together with love, respect and trust. I've always believed family is a thing to be cherished, nurtured; I've tried hard to help the people around me mend fences broken by time, distance or grudges held too long. The problem is: I'm being incredibly hypocritical. I have fences that were ripped apart when my dad died, the bridge between me & my mom is crumbling, and I have no real desire to fix any of it.

Why should I? I didn't create these situations. I won't say I'm a victim because I've allowed the rifts & divides grow; I've held on to the past and used the hurt to feed my anger & animosity. Things did not go the way I expected after my dad died and it added to the trauma of losing him so unexpectedly. Because he was living with and caring for my grandma, when he died, everything suddenly became hers; his laptop, his car, all his furniture, pretty much everything. His closet was emptied out, along with his dresser and jewelry box, when I came to pack up his things. I was left with a few boxes of paperwork, an empty wallet and a half-pack of Marlboros. When I found the title to his car in one of the boxes, I figured it was all I needed to convince my dad's family (see how I disassociate right there?) that I deserved the Jeep; they would "see the light" and fall all over themselves to make it right with me. We'd be a family again; we'd grow closer and I'd learn more of my father through them.

Instead, I was berated; called a liar, a whore; my dad was a thief and had no right to anything. I was stunned. Hurt doesn't begin to explain how I felt. I had just buried my father, my rock, and now I was under attack from the every people who I thought would be supporting me. It was a long, epic battle but I finally got my dad's Jeep, a year and a half later. I kept in touch with my uncle and his two boys but cut myself off from my aunt and her kids. I never spoke to my grandma again and she died in October 2006, shortly after I got my Jeep back. I was asked not to attend her funeral, for fear I'd "start trouble". The hurt just keeps going...

While I feel a little twinge of guilt about my decision not to speak with her, I know the chances are slim that it would have fixed anything. She was not a forgiving person and her alcohol abuse made her anything but nice. Most of my memories of her include some kind of trauma; I realized at a very early age, she wasn't like the grandmas you saw in the movies. The feelings of guilt came when my uncle passed and I realized the opportunity I'd missed to get to know him and through him, my dad. In the last few years, I've reconnected with his sons, Johnny and Matt. Matt just had a baby boy, Noah, on the 6th; he's started talking with our aunt again and I'm left wondering what to do...Should I do like I've told others, step up and make the first move or do I just leave it where it is? Honestly, I think I could live the rest of my life without doing anything about it; I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything and I'm not sure I want them to be a part of my life.

I feel like I have nothing in common with these people, except the blood we share; they have never shown any interest in me or my life, ever. My aunt's one attempt was a teen study bible. I was 13 and 'The Craft'  was really big so naturally, my best friend and I liked to say we were witches. It was purely bullshit but it utterly blew my aunt's mind and she felt compelled to "save" my soul. I can't imagine her feeling any different when, fourteen years later, I have two kids out of wedlock and choose to live with their father as an unmarried couple, which is, of course, a sin. I feel like my stance on religion and choice of lifestyle are enough to put the kabash on any thoughts of reconciliation; adding in the traumas dealt to me after my dad's death just gives me more reason to write these people off.

Am I just being stubborn? Should I feel compelled by our shared biology to 'right the wrong'? Or do I have the right to choose who I call "family"? Do I owe it to my kids to reconnect, so they can know where they come from? What would I say to my dad about this whole situation? Can I really justify my actions (or inaction)? Will this teach the boys that family can be 'thrown away'? Years have gone by and I know I've grown and changed in immense ways but the wound that is my dad's death is one I'm still healing from.

I just don't know if it's worth the trouble it may cause.

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