Saturday, January 21, 2012

Relations and Relationships

Relations. When I say relations I am talking about relatives, people to whom we are directly connected by DNA via procreation and indirectly connected  via marriage and co-habitation.

Relatives. I have quite a few relatives. My father was one of eight children, my mother had three brothers. My mothers parents each came from very large families. When I was growing up it was not uncommon for family gatherings to be counted by the dozen. We are talking outside  get-togethers, with enough food and milling about to resemble a movie set filled with extras.  The stereotypical Southern Family Reunion. These were often timed around a birthday of one of the elders, or the hometown visit of those who had sought their fortune and future outside the hometown and off the family farm.

When they married my father had 2 sons, as did my mother. They had three children, meaning that in the end I can admit to 5 brothers and one sister.

I do not feel especially "close" to any of the surviving four (one half-brother is deceased).

All of my life, for as long as I can remember, I have been an observer, and often feel the one on the outside looking in. Peeking around the edges to see what everyone else is doing. There is a great deal in my individual history that I am sure can explain the reasons for this feeling of disconnect I have, much of which I shall not or cannot share in a forum that is as public as a blog.

I was thinking about this today, because my mothers younger brother is ill, hospitalized out of state. He and his family are some of the relatives whose visits used to trigger the gatherings at the family farm near Bluefield. In the past ten years, I have become adult friends with his daughter, and my first cousin. I am very thankful that we have been able to have the opportunity. I really hope her father is not in too much pain. 

And I came across the following, a blog post I started yet never completed:
We all have them. Stress points. Sensitive topics. Pet peeves. Those people who can with a word, an intonation, a glance or gesture raise our hackles. Very often they are relatives, and very often the sensitivities are heightened during holiday and/or family celebrations. Situations that reduce us to a quivering mass of nerves, total brain paralysis and a state of altered consciousness where we will ourselves to be elsewhere, doing anything but dealing with the current scenario.

I have a friend whose parent is a frequent trigger in their life. This friend is no slacker in life, nor are they inexperienced at dealing with people. They have been self-supporting for all of their adult life, and are well-respected in their field. The parent can trigger guilt and stress with barely a lift of the eyebrow or turn of phrase.

Another friend's parent has never been shy at expressing their disappointment and disapproval at lifestyle and choices, yet they dutifully drive over three hours one way to attend family events and holiday gatherings. Without fail they depart early, pent up with suppressed emotions and responses choked back.

Some stress points are less apparent, yes just as damaging. Paralyzing.  Triggering past events, unhealed injuries, affronts that were never confronted much less resolved.
These are the things on my mind this chilly, foggy January evening. 

No comments:

Post a Comment