It’s confusing and hurtful, to say the least. But we’ve all been left with self-esteem issues, too — worried that we’re capable of causing incredible damage to our loved ones, without even knowing it.
I suppose there’s not much to be done, other than to discuss it amongst ourselves and go to therapy. But if anybody has a great idea for helping us make peace when you don’t know what you did wrong, I’d definitely appreciate it.
There are a couple of clichés that get that way because they’re so damn true. Some that have been true for our family of two is that friends are the gods’ apology for families, friends are the family we choose for ourselves, and friends walk in when everyone else walks out. My patchwork quilt of family is mostly made of beautiful friendships, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Family member in the middle: Being stuck between two family members who aren’t talking to each other
Every adult family relationship dynamic is different. For me, our difficulty is that my older brother, who I am very close to, will not talk to our dad. My brother knows I will not cut contact with our dad, even though he feels I should. He has respect for my desire for a relationship with my dad. Still, being trapped in the middle is difficult. Here’s how navigate this tricky “family member in the middle” situation…
For years, my mother accused me of testing people and trying to see how far I could push them before they left me. She was right about that much, but she never saw the why. And neither did I. Because I was too afraid to admit that terrible truth and to give up the pleasant fiction I had created about my mother. But, like all realities, it was true whether I admitted it or not. And, eventually, even I could no longer pretend and my house of cards crumpled to the ground, leaving me alone, naked of all pretense, and cast out by my mother.
I look mostly like my father, but I got my mother’s mouth.
The second oldest of four girls, my mother was always one of the loud ones. She talked loud. She sang loud. At her Catholic boarding school, she was always popular among her peers, known for being outgoing and gregarious. She became a hippy and strummed the loudest campfire guitar. She became a midwife and founded a national organization and spoke loudly at international women’s health conferences. For her 50th birthday, she produced an entire CD of her songs, and threw a big party for herself. She started the night by announcing into the microphone, “Everyone, please be quiet and stop talking. It’s time for me to sing.”
Sometimes, your own best intentions and healthy patterns can’t cancel out the choices your parents make. It isn’t an easy decision to come to, to make, or to act on, but sometimes estrangement is the right choice for you. It was for me. These are the lessons I learned along the way.
When I (unexpectedly) found myself pregnant this June, my best friend of nearly a decade was finishing an eight-month trip through Asia. Because of the deep bond we’ve shared for years I decided right away that along with my husband and midwife, I wanted her to be at the home birth of my first child. But since she’s been home (for several months) I’ve felt the distance between us.