I will type tonight for my own sanity. It will mean nothing to some and something to others. The phrases may not connect or be rational at all to some. That, my friends, is irrelevant. At times, I write like nobody is reading and sometimes that means the reader goes away wondering if I've lost my marbles. That, too, is fine. Tonight is just that. I will write whatever I feel. Then I will leave it be.
The Internet has opened up humanity in such a way that we no longer have to wonder if we are normal. We no longer need to agonize over relationships or family trials. The truth is right here, a mouse click away. The truth that we are all much more alike than we are different has given me a sense of peace that cannot be explained. For so much of my childhood and teen years I was an emotional wreck. I was a pleaser. I wanted people to like me. No, I needed people to like me. I look back now, at that girl and just want to slap her straight.
I read this last year. What was so straight forward in that writing pushed my mind into a tunneling free fall that I have not been on in a long, long time. I started to think of my love for my parents. My mind flashed with memories of my dad making huge outdoor toys for me and coaching my ball teams. I thought of my mother painting, cooking, waking me up for school. I crashed into the thought of my father unable to recall my name after a terrible reaction to a medication in the hospital. I remember my brother, still a teenager yelling, sobbing unable to understand that this is our father. I remember the look on my mother's face when dad regained his health and the joy we felt knowing he would be back to normal.
Since that time, I've held at bay many of my personal relationships. I worry that I will not be able to handle losing someone that I allow to rest in my soul. When someone makes their way in through the steel doors, barbed wire and swims that alligator infested moat, they pretty much have my loyalty for life. When I looked at the picture on that blog, I saw myself in my dads arms, my baby brother in his little blue suit coming home from the hospital and my mom taking a picture of us. Basically, I got a shock of flashbacks. Then the words from that post reminded me of the awful, awful feelings I've gone through trying to fit into my in-law's lives. The memories of the years of trying, begging, hoping to be included just flashed by my eyes. My thoughts raced. I don't believe I can fit them into a nicely phrased piece. I will spill them here as they run.
I've watched closely all of those who surround me. I see many faces, families and characters in my life. As time goes by, I've finally come to understand that it is inevitable that family will become distant. If we have a very tight knit family, the time comes when our grand-parents begin to age. We guard our hearts for the inevitable. As our parents age we guard our hearts even more. It's hard to verbalize our love for them lest we sound like babbling children. We have our own to care for so sitting at our father or mother's feet to hold their legs and fall asleep on their lap is not done. Voicing our worries must be halted to guard their hearts, their nerves. Every lab test and doctor visit stands hair on end. We wonder if this is the time we hear that our lives have changed forever. So, we visit and laugh and hold our tongues. We speak in whispers only the words we can force to our lips and hold all the others at bay. There is an elephant in the room and it's name is death. We sob inside knowing that one day, it will come and we will be left wishing we had sat at their feet and fallen asleep on their lap.
This is my view of family. However, I've witnessed families where tension grows with siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins to the extent that it becomes an elephant in the room. The tension grows to anger and the anger grows to hate. It seems, in the chaos driven families, that there are always one or two who are left out emotionally. There are always one or two who hold all the cards. There is always one who stands against the stupidity and one who plays the victim. There is that one who we wish would stay home for the holidays and that one or two we wish would come be with us just this once. It's all so very boring, so very, very normal I'm coming to find out....but for me, it was totally and utterly shocking.
As a child I had not lived through this kind of tension. I was sheltered from the chaos that some families create for themselves. I had one brother who is 8 years younger than I am and parents who love us more than we deserve. I've had to come to grips with the reality that some people live with and I have to say that it's been a sad wake-up call. It's hard to watch and was even harder to live through after I became part of such, but it has given me perspective that I never had before.
What I've observed is that in families that are not naturally close knit they are somehow emotionally tied together even when they cease to talk. They are the people who molded our childhood...even if they were never there. They know who we used to be and can piece together why we are the way we are today. No matter who we are though, we will have some members who fall by the wayside. We'll have some who cannot fit us into their rose colored mold. We'll have those who will tolerate us but never, ever accept us, let alone love us.
Here's the rub. Just because we WANT them to like us, does not mean that they will like us. We can beat our head against the wall trying to fit our heart into a square hole but it will never fit if we are only being tolerated! If we can understand that this is normal, we can then shed the "what ifs." We will have found the Holy Grail of peace. There comes a time when we mature enough to know who wants us around and who does not. When that time comes, we need to make the hard decision to walk away and give them their desire.
Listen, If we are being tolerated, we need to let them go. The people who will only tolerate us, but never love us, need to be set free. We are binding them and they are harming us. We can Love them, Pray for them, AND let them go. Allow them to live their lives. We can love them from afar. Though many times there is a need to be detached physically the emotional love does not have to be spared. We can take heart in knowing that those who have chosen to detach physically, were they sitting there having tea with us, would still be detached. They would just suck the life out of us while they tolerate our existence.
Those of us who have been tolerated know the hushed silence, the rolled eyes, the knowing glances that are thrown across the room. We've ignored them, tried to hold our personality at bay in the hope that one day, we will be loved for who we are, but, alas...this will not happen. After years of abuse, backstabbing and veiled cordiality I now know what it feels like to be free of their grip. Our family is better for it and I no longer have to worry about this thought or that word that may have been taken offense to...just because they could find a reason to take offense.
Toleration is not a form of love, it is self satisfying garbage that leads to blow ups and confusion. Should we be the in-law, the black sheep or the red headed step child, I say, Stand Up Firmly on your feet, Break Away from the falsehoods, surround ourselves with those who love us THE WAY WE ARE and do NOT allow ourselves to be only tolerated. They either love us as is, or they don't love us. We can hold God's love for them while respecting ourselves.
Whether we are facing a first born daughter who cannot let her older brother's wife into the fold or a birth parent who never found the courage to accept their decisions. We are normal. WE are worth more than toleration and they..THEY...are worth more also.
Let us let go. Let us live our life. Let us let them live theirs and stop wasting the minutes we have on this earth. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves. We do not have to have them over for tea or even have them in our lives at all. We have tried and tried to be loved. We have tried and tried to smile, accept, enter their confidence. If it hasn't happened by now, it's not going to.
Wait for the picture to arrive in the mail. Wait for the letter. Wait for them to reflect. Wait. It is all in God's timing and if it comes while viewing them at the funeral or when they view us, so be it. We shall meet again and this time, He will be the mediator.
The family that God builds may have known us then or they may be those we find later in life. For the lucky few who truly have a bond, For the Lucky few who have the love that God built, they know who we are today and love us unconditionally. They accept us with all of our flaws and all of our baggage. They support us, call us just to hear our voice and we know they will never cease to be our backbone. But, for those who only tolerate us, If they don't feel joy when we arrive, if we have tried, and they do not love us, what is the sin in allowing the love to fill our hearts...from afar.
In the inscrutable designs of providence, time is the best sculptor.
I am the putty Father, time is your design. All of it Yours.