I think there are very few families that are not dysfunctional. Most of us love our families and get on well most of the time but there is usually one member who has some sort of dispute with another relative. This can be of varying degrees depending on the source of the argument but, usually, the root of the problem is very insignificant.
My mother’s family always had one member who was out of step with the others, but it varied from month to month as to who was the problem. It was always one of my aunts, the uncles seemed to be left out of whatever was being planned and didn’t cause any disruptions however, once they married, their partners were fair game to be “it” for the month.
As a child this always used to wash over me, it was only as I got into my teens that I realized that there was always one auntie or another missing from family events. I don’t know why but all the aunts seemed to think they needed to interfere in the lives of the others, even though all had families of their own. My mother was one of the instigators it always seemed to be her stirring up ill feelings against a sibling and getting a couple of the other sisters on her side against the culprit.
All my family members congregated at grandma’s house at one time during the week, it was like a pow-wow. I grew up in grandma’s home, due to my own family’s particular problems, so I was always on hand during these get togethers. I never took any notice as a child but, as I got a bit older, I realised what was going on and wondered why my grandma let it all happen. Why did she allow them to segregate one particular member for the cold shoulder for a few weeks?
I was determined that these rifts would never be allowed when I was a mom but of course it did. Our four daughters are very close in age and mostly got on with just the occasional squabbles, however as they grew up they developed their own personalities and one particular daughter was the cause of much heartache.
It wasn’t till much later that I found out that my beloved child was bi-polar. I had never heard of the problem and just put her awkward behaviour down to attention seeking. As she grew up she had a couple of run ins with drugs but cleaned herself up again. For some reason she was always terribly jealous of her older sister. This daughter just twelve months older sailed through school and seemed to achieve all that she set out to do. She met her future husband at fourteen and they became inseparable. The both found jobs during high school and worked every weekend, putting their joint income into savings for the future. They married early, bought an old fixer upper and saved like mad while they had their family, squirreling away every spare penny.
Meanwhile the younger girl spent all her money on clothes and later, on drugs. After suffering spousal abuse at the hands of her drug dealing partner, she finally got clean and has been working at keeping herself and children well looked after, ever since. She married a couple of years ago and is very happy but for some reason, she is so angry that she is not in the same fortunate position as her older sister.
She seems to think that the older girl is so lucky to have a beautiful home, while she herself is still renting and cannot see that past habits have made both girls who they are today. After several big rifts, the girls have now given up on each other, it is so sad and their children have drifted away from their cousins. Family get-togethers are a thing of the past as the girls do not wish to be in the same room.
Several months ago I was horrified to read on ‘facebook’ that she now only has two sisters as the oldest one is dead to her. All this is just jealousy and although I know how sad they both are at the situation, there is nothing I can do except pray that at some point they will reconcile, however as they are both over fifty, it is not likely. I feel like the ties that bind are really strangling me, I will never give up on the younger girl and I could never chose which of them I love more.
Why does love cause us so much pain?