I hope you all enjoy the holiday season; whatever you celebrate I sincerely hope it is full of joy and hope.
I hope you are surrounded by those you love and who love you – family and friends.
I am celebrating Christmas this year with family I recently reconnected with (within the last year) and feel very blessed and happy to be doing so; however, it is not all happy. There are people (my two youngest brothers) who are not happy about this reconnection. And that, unfortunately, makes it a less happy holiday for my parents.
I was disconnected from my family for nearly a decade, partially by my own choice but mostly by the lies told and spread by others.
My parents did not know about all of the health troubles I was suffering; countless surgeries, blood sugar/diabetes troubles, miscarriages.
My parents did not know about my engagement.
My parents did not attend my wedding.
My parents did not know about my successful pregnancy.
My parents only met my son this year on the cusp of his third birthday.
I missed a lot too.
I missed the deaths of two grandfathers.
I missed my parents’ health troubles: strokes and other ailments.
I missed watching my youngest brother (with whom I was tremendously close even though there is more than a decade between our ages) grow up, graduate high school, become a man.
I missed things I should not have. I missed things I did not deserve to miss.
I was without family I needed, without family I deserved to have.
My family is an overly complicated being. My parents split when I was 5 or 6 so the complexity of the familial unit has been something I have grown up with; I have two (younger) biological brothers, a (younger) half brother and three step-siblings; I currently do not have a relationship with any of my siblings. I was – at one time – close to all three of my younger brothers; however, my bio-brothers are not men I want a relationship with. They have both lied, rewrote history in a way that I am not sure I can forgive (and believe me, I have tried); they are not the men I thought they would grow to be. My youngest brother hates me. He has told my parents so. I think he was fed a lot of mistruths in his formative years about me and is echoing the opinions of others more so than having any of his own.
I do not have a relationship with my biological mother and step-father (because I do not want to have a relationship with my bio-mother my step-father has forbidden me to have a relationship with any of his children, all of whom are much older than I, all of whom have children I loved and cared for); they always made me feel out of place and awkward in ways I cannot describe. I never seemed to fit in to their family. I tried to reconnect with them as an adult but it was unsuccessful because I really do not know them, they are not my cup of tea; I lived with my dad.
I have always had a strong bond with my father and (step-) mother even though we barely communicated during the last decade. Our relationship suffered for several reasons. Some of it was my fault: youth and immaturity, splashed with a bit of anger and that I know everything bug we all catch in our early 20s. Some of it was their fault. A lot of the suffering was at the hands of a web of lies spun by a few individuals. The web grew out of control. Those lies hurt a lot of people.
Those lies continue to hurt.
Because of my reconnection with my parents and those lies, my two youngest brothers have stopped talking to my parents. They will not have anything to do with anyone who has anything to do with me. They have accused me of using my son as a pawn to win favour with my folks, this is an insult and infuriates me, and it is absolutely not true. My son is a blessing I never thought I would have. He deserves a relationship with his grandparents and they deserve one with him; it has been a wonderful year watching them get to know each other. My son adores my parents. I am thrilled.
I am deeply saddened that he will never know his uncles. There is a lot of work (conversations between the adults, resolutions to past issues, etc.) to be done before that meeting can ever take place. Time is running out, he is growing older. He realizes there is tension when they are brought up in conversation. He knows they do not like his mom. He wants to know why they do not want to meet him. He will soon have no interest in meeting them. They are missing out on a truly great human being.
Even though my dad has told me I have no reason to feel guilty I cannot help it. I feel guilty. They have said I am the reason they will not come around. I am the reason they are not coming to any of the family festivities. Other people will miss seeing them; my nana, aunts, uncles and cousins. And, it will be my fault (even if it isn’t).
I am willing to sit down and talk with them. They are not. I have offered on several occasions to contact them, my mom and dad say it is a waste of my time, the boys will not even open an email or letter from you. I am willing to not have a conversation and rest on civility alone. They are not.
The youngest is just that – young. He is only 21 years old, so I give him a bit of grace. I understand where he is in his life. He needs to work things out for himself. He needs the chance to get those last few growing pains out. The other one is a full-fledged adult. He lied and refuses to acknowledge it. There is no excuse for his behaviour then or now.
My wish this Christmas is that my family continues on its path of healing.
My husband and I moved to an entirely new town a few weeks ago. We are in the process of starting a new, fresh chapter in our life. We wanted our son to be closer to family. We needed revitalization. And we have that. We are happier than we have ever been. The positive changes that have unraveled because of our move continue to leave us awestruck. Our son has not stopped running through the house saying, I love our new house, home sweet home. He has already made friends. He is excited each and every day he wakes up; he knows we are happier too.
I hope my parents can save the relationships they have with my two brothers. Neither side deserves what is happening. I have not been privy to all the details, but I know that they all love each other and are better together than they are apart. The four of them had each other these last few years. They created memories and shared moments, they had each other to lean on and call on in times of need. I did not. Fortunately, I had my husband. He is wonderful and amazing, but he knows what I missed because he has a loving relationship with his mum. She has been a source of support for me too over the years and I was grateful for it, though I always had a lingering and nagging ache in my heart that longed for home.
Last year, I sought to end that feeling. Last year, just before the holidays, I contacted my dad and we began to heal our relationship. We have a come a long way, and there is still a way to go; you cannot simply inject trust into a situation or relationship where it has been so badly damaged but you can begin to rebuild it if the parties are willing. It is not easy. There are moments of discomfort, but the pay-off is invaluable.
There is always hope.
It is not a feeling that should be saved for a particular time of year; we should employ hope year round.