Friday, May 10, 2013
Deaths In The Estranged Family
She was smart, educated, warm, funny, and was loyal to her family. I was never in her inner circle, but I appreciated her for the woman that she seemed to be. She was taken much to early, apparently from breast cancer. I don't really know, but the family requested donations be sent to a breast cancer research foundation, so that is my guess. I believe she was in her sixties, so she was pretty young actually.
But not as young as my fifty year old cousin that died this month. Her brother, the one cousin still in touch with me, was good enough to let me know. I had not talked to my cousin in some years. We were somewhat close once, and then moved apart. Actually, although not officially estranging from her family, my cousin lived a distinctly separate life from her family.
There are quite a few sad parts to this tale for me. One was that she was about to move to Florida to spend more time with her family. She was just on the brink of putting all that in place when she died. Or maybe that is a somewhat happy thing is that she probably died in her sleep, while being excited about this. I only wish she could have full filled that adventure.
The other sad thing is, and I can only guess this from coming from the same family, is that I don't think she ever felt comfortable being her authentic self around her family. My family tends to converse in criticism. My grandmother used to converse this way, and I finally figured out this was her way of saying she loved you. So I would just tease her about that (after I figured that out) and call her out on this.
It is my opinion that my aunt uses this same technique, but I am not ever sure that if she does feel genuine affection for all of her kids, that they have felt that. There is something about a constant chipping away of saying "your too fat", "when will you settle down", and on and on that if you accept that and let that poison seep into your system, you internalize it and it owns you. No amount of jawing the words "I love you" will undo that, without the opposite actions of showing actual love. When someone makes it seem at least that they love your successful career, but not this other part of you, it makes you hide and cover things that are perhaps not that grim or worth covering up.
I have come to a place where if a relative is doing something self destructive, you should perhaps let them know of your CONCERN (different than criticism) one time (maybe two times). You know after that, they are going to do what they are going to do. You can either have a good and loving relationship until the end, or you can have an adversarial relationship or the appearance at a relationship at the end. As long as that relative is not hurting you, and you have let them know you are there to help them, there is no point in heaping criticisms upon them or upon loved ones of theirs. Especially if they are not hearing any positive things from you to counter balance that. I still believe that harping on a criticism that is not relevant to you presonally, can only be harmful to the other person.
I don't know that this is what happened with my cousin, but if it did, I wish she had an opportunity to fully deal with that, and have authentic relationships in her life. She was a bit self destructive perhaps, but I think this was born of the ability to ignore a nagging voice that she let inside her head, which may have insisted that these criticisms were all there was to her.
When we used to get together, there was fun in my cousin and she could be very funny. I think she was very lonely and felt alone however. I know that feeling, and when you do not perhaps have a partner to share that with, and you can't share yourself with your family (or you feel that way) it erodes at you if you let it.
I think while my step monster's sister died too early, that she did have a happy and fulfilled life. I don't know that for sure of course, and everything in my family is about appearances....but she seemed too real to be masking a real unhappiness. Lynn on the other hand, I think was maybe just about to blossom at 50. Perhaps establish real connections in her life that might have been less than she wished for before. Course I had not seen her for many years, so I will never know. We had grown apart when I was having my own struggles coming to terms with what my family meant to me.
I was more on the outskirts at any of my step monster's functions even when I was "in" the family. My cousin and I spent time together growing up, and seeing each other at the minimum at family holidays that my grandparents used to host. My cousin lived on a lake, so my aunt and uncle would also have events that they would host as well. When we grew up, I pretty much counted on her to hide with me in the corner from the rest of my family LOL. I didn't really realize at the time that we may be doing this, but we would both grab a glass of wine and head for a quiet part of the room and converse most of the time there.
Anyway, two beings have left the earth at too early an age. I grieve them. I remember the good times, and the great things about each of them. My step monster's sister will live on in her children. My cousin will live on her her nieces and nephews, who she adored and who adored her:)
I wanted to capture my feelings about my cousin and my step aunt here. Later I will post some more complicated feelings and situations this brings about. I hope I have honored them both in some way. One way is to be sure that I take care of myself, and spend time with those that I love and who love me. To try and break out of my inner shell on occaision and have as authentic relationships as I can have with those people. I miss that they are not in the world anymore have the lives that I imagined for them. I wish them peace and happiness where they are now.
I wonder if this is such a hard task for most everyone in the world, or is it just me and my family.