The Ties That Bind. Or Not.
I always dreamed of having a big, happy family. A mom and dad who truly liked and respected each other, brothers and sisters who drove each other crazy but underneath it loved each other deeply, and extended family who came over on holidays and sometimes just because. Loud, noisy, rambunctious, and always there for each other.
Instead, I got...something else. I can count on one hand the number of holidays I spent with extended family growing up. I have four siblings who I have no contact with. Out of one adopted sister, three step-siblings, two aunts, two uncles, and seven cousins, the only family I have any contact with now, outside of my parents, is one aunt.
The reasons for this are varied. Outside of my adopted sister, who has her own host of problems inherited from her birth family, there was no big falling out, no intentional estrangement. We all live in different parts of the country, and I just drifted apart from them. It was easy for it it to happen, really. In many ways, I lift right out, with barely a ripple.
See, my mom kept a safe distance from her own family of origin, for good reason. They were not safe people for her, or for me. And she didn't feel safe with my dad's family, either, probably because of history with her own family. Because of my dad's job as a pastor, we usually did not live near our relatives. Between the distance and my mom's anxiety around family, choosing to stay away was perhaps the natural option.
While this distance had some advantages, it also meant that we didn't create many of those special bonding moments with our family. The few that we did manage to collect reside in a special corner of my heart, but while they are big in importance, they are relatively miniscule in number. And maybe because of that, we find that we can live quite comfortably without each other. Most of the time, I don't even notice the little hole that I carry, where they are supposed to live.
I have zero contact with my adopted sister, for safety reasons, and virtually none with my step-siblings. Our parents married when I was an adult. I was out of the home, with my own husband and an infant daughter. My step-siblings were much younger, with my youngest brother still in elementary school. I lived 14 hours away, and although I tried to visit often, with a baby at home and bills to pay, I couldn't make the trip nearly as often as I wanted to. They created their family, with their own memories and traditions, that I wasn't apart of. With divorced parents, no extended family that I was still close to, one sibling I had to stay away from and three step-siblings who were busy building their new life, I slowly started to realize that my family had become separate pieces that I couldn't manage to put together into one whole.
It's a funny thing about family. They drive you crazy, they make you wonder how you could possibly be related to them, and you can find yourself fantasizing about getting far, far away from them. But stay away too long, and one day you realize that you are missing something vital. I imagine it's like losing a limb. You can learn to function just fine without it, and you can get used to the prosthetic, but it's never quite the same as the one you were born with.
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Hi there, I'm Amy. I'm so glad you're here. I'm a writer, photographer, mom, wife, and highly sensitive introvert, just trying my best to show up fully for myself, my family, and my life. It all gets a little crazy sometimes, and it helps to have a place to connect honestly about what's really going on. This is my place.