Estrangement from Family…
With the book, Flying with Broken Wings finished and in the “mail”; before I begin the next writing project I wanted to post my own feelings about ESTRANGEMENT …some type of estrangement appears to be an ongoing part of my life. Therefore, I will share a few with you…
I want to write about estrangement from family, mine and my point of view. First comes the Alabama “shirttail” redneck relatives oh yes…I use to go back home to visit and their first words upon seeing me was “You still a Yankee”? Still living is an aunt and uncle neither have ever been outside their home town except when my uncle went to fight “The Big War”, which in reality was the end of the Korean Conflict. He returned to work in the same factory forty or more years and she was a homemaker. Nothing wrong with either of those statements accept you would have to know them personally, as there are various levels of “Redneck”.
I call it a YO-YO estrangement spanning about forty- years. I went those many years going back to a place I knew was never “home” just a place where I grew up. Always spring and Thanksgiving breaks with my parents whom have since passed, I had one sibling who passed as well. During those, many years visiting on Holidays brought a new meaning to the word relatives.
I understand that I left home when I was sixteen, but I tried to keep in touch with many of them. I must say that it was a one-way communication, hard to believe but it was…I would call my parents weekly, reach out to the only sibling I had, and the others who I thought of as relatives.
Now after all of these many years later I have to wonder why relatives chose to distance themselves, choose to demonize you while painting themselves as virtuous, sailing a tide of bitterness and anger mostly for unknown reasons. Most thought if you crossed the Alabama state line you would fall into the Pits of Hell, yep, Alabama was the world and it was flat. It appeared the closer the “Pecking Order” leading to the top…the nastier they were when talking behind one is back. Oh, this was not just me; this deeply embedded Redneck dysfunctional family went after each other as well.
My parents made it known to me in the hidden messages in their conversations that visitors should stay in a motel. I was the visiting relative. I kept my visits short and casual, the love I had for my out of touch parents would never end. I was not alone in these situations, my aunts, uncles and families were not welcome, including my only sibling. The only one my parents ever accepted was a grandchild whom had lived off my parents all of their life. However, this individual would never learn to function alone, not my problem I say.
Three years before my mother died (my father already dead); ask that I “not come back”. I honored her wish and did not return until her death. Estrangement…the only relative I felt close too ostracized me for about ten years. I reached out and the email relationship and an occasional visits were on and off for another twenty years, having three year gaps. Please understand that I continued to try and “hold on” to this individual because of my parents. In the beginning of 2017, the mixed messages and/or lies seem to give me reason to turn loose, to stop the acting, to stop listening to how their entitlement created by my parents caused all of the problems. From parents that made the mistake of “dying” leaving them to fend for themselves. Oh my, what a dilemma!
I finally went “Oh my God”; I have been holding onto a family member that clearly does not want to continue communicating with me or have a family relationship. Since, I have made it very clear that I no longer want to be a puppet in their lives, strung along to whatever tune they are playing.
I realize that some might be empathetic and others will say for the sake of peace live with their poor reasoning skills and their sense of entitlement. I understand struggling, but I was not the child that lived free well into adulthood under my parents “roof”, I was not the one who did not know how to survive.
Honestly, I wrestle with the challenges, struggles, and consequences of writing about my estrangement. It is hard to decide what to omit and what to disclose. The stakes are high and paying the price for transparency can strike hard. While many people are empathetic, some think I should bury the hatchet for the sake of peace and family.
While I am no person’s judge, I do not presume to know what others should or should not do in the same predicament. I do not have to explain or justify my decision to draw boundaries between my family and me. I do not have to help these people understand my position. I do not have to defend myself or prove myself. Please do not underestimate the power or long-lasting effect of emotional and verbal abuse. With the death of my parents, I would tread lightly as the family I was dealing with had a passion for lying and being a victim. I have known all my life that my family would never inspire to match the image of a Norman Rockwell painting.
For those who are empathetic with my situation or suffer from their own estrangement, thank you for understanding! I know estrangement is tough especially during the holidays, which promotes families and togetherness. It is plagued by awkward moments where we dodge communication about our family and suffer in silence.
I try to remember that no two people view any event the same, even within a family. We have different vantage points, shaped by our own perspectives & life experiences. Our different levels of awareness are impacted by our beliefs, ideas, fears, & motives. I have quit trying to change my estranged family or trying to get them to consign to a common perspective.
There are NO completely innocent parties with estrangement. I try to reflect on my part. I do not question if somehow I could have handled things differently. What would I do differently next time, nothing, as there will not be a next time? Life hands us pain and hurt to teach us lessons. I have finally with aged wisdom learned from my experiences with family.
I have chosen to focus on the healthy relationships in my life and my children and grandchildren, which I have built on respect, support, & appreciation where I am loved for who I am and not what others wanted me to be. My was not imprinted with images of unconditional love and acceptance from family. I do know that I am not alone…with these words in closing old wounds, I have a new perspective on my life and will now begin my next writing project…”Rain, Fire and Lies”, my autobiography.
Thank you for reading and supporting me, I will do my best to keep all of you posted with the progress of the book and my daily life. Love to all of you.