Family ties

July 7, 2009
Body and Soul, My Life

Families are funny things. They range from wonderful to totally shit and cover everything in between. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones who has a pretty good family. Not the best, by any means, but I still love them dearly. Unfortunately for a lot of people, their families are less than ideal. I have a few friends who have parents or siblings they can’t stand, or families who can’t stand the individual. It always worries and confuses the hell out of me when I hear about someone who has been disowned by their family, or have disowned a family member themselves. Up until very recently I thought it was the worst thing in the world. How could anyone want nothing to do with a member of their own family??? Sure, nobody’s perfect, but they’re your own flesh and blood! Surely differences can be resolved when it comes to family? Forgiveness is easy when you’re talking about someone form your bloodline! Whenever I heard a tale of someone deciding not to talk to a family member (or even their whole family) ever again I think they’re being silly and will surely get over it soon because no one can stay mad at family forever, right?!

Like I said, I’m lucky and have a really good family. I once thought my mum would disown me if I got tattoo. When I said this to her, she laughed and said that she could never disown me, especially not for something as trivial as a tattoo. My little sister used to be a pain in the arse growing up, a real little terror. Tantrums to get her way (which usually worked), bad behaviour to get attention, lies to get herself out of trouble and so on. Yet despite all the hell she put us through, we don’t resent her or wish she’d been any different. Sure, life would have been a lot quieter, but nowhere near as interesting. My family isn’t perfect but they are who they are and I’m glad I have them.

So it came as a real shock when I realised recently that it was time for me to cease contact with a family member myself. It was a long time coming I guess, but still a shock when I came to the realisation. My parents split up a few years back, after my dad had a total mid-life-crisis. It was all right at first, we had a family business which my parents still ran together. He moved out and they just worked together from the family home. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t that bad either. Then my dad started turning really nasty against my mum and it all went rapidly downhill from there. The last year or so was the worst, my ever-quiet father was suddenly becoming an ogre who cared for no one but himself. So when they finally parted ways it suddenly dawned on me that this wasn’t the man I knew, he was my father still of course, but I really didn’t know him any more. So after his final bout of nastiness I decided I didn’t need to keep him in my life, and was only doing so because he was family, my dad. I wanted to put up with him, I really did, but neither of us were going to benefit from continued contact, so I finally told him that was it, I didn’t want any more to do with him.

I now realise that sometimes it is necessary to rid yourself of the people who do nothing for you, even it means you have to do this to a family member. It hurt like hell but it had to be done, and I guess it’s just a necessary part of growing up. It’s also not something to take lightly, you can’t go disowning your family because they gave you the shits one day and you’re in a temper about it. It’s about making a decision that you know is right, no matter how painful it might end up being (for your or the person you’ve decided you want to let go) and going through with it. It doesn’t have to be forever either. Time does heal most wounds, so maybe in a few years time you can forgive them and make amends with them. I remain positive that down the track my dad will understand why I made my decision and try to make amends with me. Only time will tell.

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