Today’s post is about family, relationship dynamics, destiny and how each of those can play a role in the overall happiness and satisfaction in your life. Family, as a concept, is somewhat of a misnomer in our current society’s standard of the word because we have a general accepted belief that we can choose our own families. While this is somewhat true, this thought-pattern has a very dangerous under-belly that defines our own emotional attachment toward family, how we view them in relation to ourselves and our lives and also how we set-up our future paths, relationship-wise. This post is not specifically about proving that family is or isn’t a choice, but more about how our personal views about these dynamics, eventually, create our own reality as adults, whether that be positive or negative.
We can look at the vast psychological data that proves, experimentally, that family bonding, at a young age, is paramount to healthy adult relationships and eventual maturity, but I find that it gets caught up in the experiment as a literal measuring device, rather than how this creates a pattern later on in life, and how those cycles play themselves out. It’s more important to start understanding the effects on the adult because usually, we, as adults, are the ones seeking out this most important information and trying to find out how to even start living our lives from this new perspective. A big obstacle here is knowing and having a clear stance on the fact that childhood trauma does not justify behavior as an adult. There is no justification for socially-destructive behavior sans diagnosed psychopathy / sociopathy and even those could be argued against when taken from the correct perspective. Self-justification is a behavior that only has merit in terms of positive, pro-social motivation.
Now, we get lost in this sort of cat-and-mouse game because we are so used to justifying ourselves on multiple levels of our conscience, taking from the perspectives of multiple people involved in the situation, but, in the end, we actually have no right to behave in a way that negatively affects other people, no matter how much we believe that it’s justified. This sounds very convoluted, but it makes a lot of sense in example.
Example: Your friend’s having a problem with another friend and you try to moderate the situation by being the ‘in-between’. They tell you a problem and you tell the other friend the problem and go back and forth.
This is a pretty common situation and looks pretty innocent, but the motivation for you, as the in-between, must be analyzed pretty much down to the nubby nubs. Are you doing this in the best interest for your friends? Are you doing this because you enjoy being involved? Are you doing this because you want their relationship to be better? How much enjoyment do you get out of that role as moderator?
Your role in the situation is actually, more or less, as God. You get to play the puppeteer in the lives of two people by playing the role of judge and jury. This goes into the idea of self-validation, but the importance is really in your own motivation and how you self-justify. In the end, you should have never, ever gotten involved with the situation other than, “This is none of my business.” Some people would say, “Wow, common sense!” but, trust me, there are plenty of others who would not!
I’ve gotten this far and you’re asking, “WHAT ABOUT FAMILY?! CHILDHOOD?!” and I am getting there, it just takes a lot of sober thinking to get to that point.
So, now, we understand a little bit about how we can make or break the relationships in our lives by the motivations behind our actions. And, from an earlier post, we understand the importance of acknowledging that we get to choose all of our actions, inaction and beliefs. This is all very important in understanding your own family and how you relate to them.
First, family. What is family in my definition? Family are those people whom, when you were born, were attached to you by means of blood ties. In our world, blood could also mean law in terms of a person in your life or your family’s life who has some sort of legal attachments through adoptions and marriage. It’s important to establish this because life-long family friends or people who are not family that stay in good faith and character to you or your family are probably the exact people you want to keep around due to their ongoing contact. Family can also include any and all people whom you’ve kept in your life from childhood through to your adulthood and maintain close contact with. The definition is basically what you might imagine, just spelled out very clearly except that friendship, in itself, is a totally different post. Family is, of course, up to your judgement based upon the standard for pro-social behaviors.
Second, why is it not a choice? This is the real meat of the article, eh? Why is it actually not a choice who is your family and who isn’t? In some ways, yes, we can choose the people in our lives and those people may or may not stand the test of time to become like family, but those ties that you create, as you grow from child to adult, are really important in today’s society because, without them, you actually systematically lose access to very, very real benefits of having such ties, even when events may have been out of your control or, for me at times, were totally in control, but were coming from a total monster on the inside.
The benefits of which I am speaking could be called security blankets or emergency support. For example, I am someone who hasn’t had any sort of familial contact, in a positive sense, for about 5 or 6 years. The reasons for my not having contact go on a case-by-case basis, but I would say that about 70% of those lost ties are not my fault and the other 30% are totally my fault. I have a relatively large family on my mother’s side; she had eight siblings and they ranged, including my mom, from late forties to late sixties. At this level of Ancestry.com, we already have huge fault lines and earthquake zones of socially-destructive behaviors and many in-and-out sort of adult relationships. My childhood was a cycle of this: growing up with my cousins and seeing them everyday then all of a sudden not seeing them for 2 years then every day and then 2 years… Same with the aunts and uncles. I even had an aunt and an uncle whom myself and my closest cousin legitimately feared, but the third cousin in our three-way, best friendship-that-was-torn-apart-and-glued-back-together came from that couple and we would be there often, ignoring the insanity of the adults around us until they directly inspired terror.
Really, that’s what my cousin told me as an adult when I was speaking with her about them, “What did you expect? We were terrified of them when we were younger.” Which, if you think about it, shows such a hopefulness or… reality-rejecting thought process on my part that I wasn’t even making references from my past to the present. This is also a pattern of behavior for me – ignoring the past and hoping the best for now.
Anyway, my perception of my familial connections was actually one of positivity until way later, like very recently, when I started to just regress back into the memories and see everything without the lens of perfection. The in-and-out cycling really created the need for such a lens because in the years without those everyday relationships; I spent the entirety of my time either in school or totally alone playing on my trampoline, pretending to be a superhero. Even those moments of fantasy were about my need to feel control over every aspect of play, the protagonist, the antagonist and all of the pawns in between. A validation of the hope that, maybe in the future, I might have control over who’s in my life and how the relationships would turn out… This turns out to be such a fatal sort of ideal, but that’s another post!
So, my father was also in jail most of my childhood; more or less half my childhood on and off. I think, in my memory, he was in and out two times, maybe three. It is probably two because those parts of my life feel split into three pieces of two different story books. I mean, my childhood had a couple separate cycles and re-washes of my own identity with profound effects on my own self-perception in very, very important ways.
When you go long periods without people in your life, you start to redefine yourself in your own mind because, naturally, we define ourselves in relation to others because, in this world, we are supposed to gain our self-worth through our dedication of filling others, and of course ourselves by definition, with positivity. But like… even my brother was in a sort of cycle for me, and himself, between going to his father’s and coming back, missing really important family events, holidays and other sort of bonding stuff until his father sort of disowned him… eventually receiving him back and disowning him, again (cycle?). In many ways, our stories are similar. We ourselves are totally different.
I had a lot of loving memories from my childhood, like… so filled with love, care and smiles from adults with such beautiful souls whom, even in my adult-life glimpses, were still so beautiful. I am referencing one particular cousin and her family, in particular, because those memories remind me of the potential in family and what that means. So, the cycling went from something like cousin of so and so, to not, to nephew, to not, to best friend, to not, to brother, to not, to son, to not… to totally alone, to not. It really messes with your perception of who you are, what you value and how you value yourself. For me, personally, this made me really only value myself and the ideal me, not the real me who was desperately trying to define himself, eventually letting that ideal picture of myself take over in a barrage of mixed beliefs and perceptions of who I was. Those ‘nots’ eventually became ‘am nots’ at times in my life where I desperately needed to be. These sort of forced trial-and-error identity shifts, through self-definition in terms of others, really became a defining sort of characteristic in my life, referencing self-destruction of relationships in my adulthood that could have ended up okay if it weren’t for my own lack of discipline and any sort of belief system that could have helped me begin to define myself, strictly, as a being of positive impact instead of an idealized monster with absolutely nothing in the end. These are the same cycles that have carried on in my life, really, till no one has been left. It’s a process that I think would have continued had I not had a wake-up call very recently, a sort of redefinition of the person I am and developing a clear picture of who I want to be.
As a reference into my adult-life and the cycle that eventually kindled the path of my own destruction, my parents passed away, first my father at 14 and my mother at 16. After my father passed, my mom took a total turn for the worst in her mental health and really started to get taken ahold of by some sort of schizophrenia that went untreated. I could walk in the kitchen and she would be gesticulating and lipping full conversations, I could open the fridge, get a cup of pop and walk out without breaking her trances. At times, I had actually stopped her and told her she was doing this and she told me she was talking to ‘God’. This ‘God’ told her later that getting chemo and a mastectomy for Stage I cancer would be ‘mutilating her [God-given] body’. A year later, I came home and found her in a child-like state, sort of waving around the remote control and eventually, when the paramedics came, had a pair of scissors and sort of babbling to herself. We found out she had Stage IV cancer that had gone to her brain. She would need chemo, radiation, a stint in the head and a long path of visions that no human should witness of their mother, the only person who seemingly had any sort of long-term connection to you. The start of a path of destruction through forced orphanage, a rebirth from idealized child to idealized child-adult with such pain and lack of any sort of idea of what actual self-value is… or love?
Lacking any sort of safety net of relationship that stems in loving memory, lack of any sort of ability to take chances in terms of finances or life choices in general… lack of any sort of real view of the world or how it should be lived in and valued… Just nothing. An idealized facade with a blackened soul, so stretched and pulled that it had no idea of how to shine. Without long-term, familial relationships, even examples of such relationships, one cannot even envision healthy future ones. Not at all. Not even slightly – this is why family is not a choice and why people really end up alone and unhappy, begging God or whomever to answer what they had ever done, when in fact, they themselves grew up to be living hellions of destruction to themselves, and others, without ever acknowledging that they have a real self and that person is probably horrendously ugly, wrapped in tattered shrouds of socially-destructive tendencies ingrained as programming from birth. There are so many people who are like this, you just may not know or may not be able to acknowledge them yourselves.
A good family, with good values and good role-model figures provides such a higher success rate than going without. Which leads to not even ever imagining what that life could be, or not even knowing you didn’t have such. The successes and chances a person can take are so much greater with a sense of support and security, but sometimes one goes a lifetime destroying themselves over and over, destroying everyone around them and just reliving their lives as the children they never grew up from. Personally, I have started really acknowledging myself as a person and my own responsibility for the way my life has turned out and am yearning to start living as a pinnacle of goodness. It’s very much a day to day process, but that’s why this blog is here.
**There’s probably so much to say about this and get into more detail, but there’s so much left to tell in many different lights, this post is just sort of a highlighter on how to view each piece of the map of my life, my storybook written down in other people trailing in flames that hopefully have finally caught on my soul to shine for the future.