Rifts for a Reason
My family has always been a hornet’s nest of rifts, and landmines of drama. From my grandmother’s stories of the people who’d wronged her, and were expunged from her life forever, to the ones I’ve had with my mother, sister, and daughter, I’ve managed to keep the tradition going, but for vastly different reasons. In truth, I’ve had little contact with my mother’s side of the family in more than 20 years, and mention it on occasion. I say that with no little irony.
If I’m being honest, I’ve had even less contact with my dad’s side, though in their case, I think it was circumstance more than anything else. Mom was the driving force over which side of the family we saw more of, so dad’s got short shrift. When my grandfather died in 1987, I lost contact with that side of the family aside from brief interchanges through my dad. I remember them, for the most part as a fun-loving, driven bunch; a family who emigrated from Russia in the late 1800’s and went on to yield business owners, and educated, successful progeny, but put little time or effort into emotional ties.
Things were always more volatile in mom’s family, and often, not in a good way. The infighting I didn’t understand as a child became more noticeable, and uncomfortable as I grew older. With mom gone, I guess I saw no reason to keep trying, and neither did any of the cousins. We went our separate ways without so much as a backward glance. 20 years later, a few reconnected, but when it became abundantly clear I’d grown away from the family’s prescribed modes of behavior, I’m convinced both sides of the equation agreed we’d made the right decision when we first became estranged. At the risk of sounding cliche, the sleeping dogs were better off being allowed to lie.
Remembering the Old, Honoring the New
A lot of people have come and gone through my life these 60-odd years. Looking back, I’m surprised to see how many considering the number of years I lived an almost hermit-like existence. It seems I emerged often enough to touch and be touched by more lives than I realized. A few have remained for decades, but other than immediate family, most came and went within a single decade—the majority of them, far less.
Looking back, as I do with decreasing frequency, I recognize the ones who hung around longer, but more, those who’ve done so by choice rather than family obligation. I also admit the rifts, whether initiated by me, someone else, or both of us were necessary, and aren’t meant to be reversed. On more than one occasion, I’ve tried to re-engage. It never ended well. In hindsight, I’d have been better served leaving the past in the past, but those attempts gave me the information I needed to learn the lesson well enough to recognize it wasn’t worth repeating in most cases.
As with anything, there are a couple of exceptions which brought people back into my life in a completely different capacity. I treasure those friendships for the rule breakers they are, and the gifts they brought into my life the second time around. I’m also grateful my rules hadn’t become hard and fast before they returned, or I might have rejected their overtures to my own detriment.
Looking Back and Letting Go
My family, on the other hand, are strangers now. I don’t know their kids, or relate to any of the journeys they’ve taken in their lives. There’s no common ground with which to even start a conversation. Though it’s sad, I don’t believe any of us are really lacking for each others’ absence. It’s simply become what is, and ultimately, what it was meant to be.
I look at it now and think if the rifts were meant to be mended, we’d have found a way to do so before they became the uncrossable chasms they are now. Any bridges we might have had, or common ground we might have shared have been lost to the years in-between; my own personal Dark Ages, to no one’s disappointment. I doubt there’s a single person willing to put forth the effort to rebuild a single bridge or reconnect a broken tie. If there’s anything to gain by making the effort, I can no longer see it.
I know this sounds abominably sad, but the truth is, we all filled the space the others left in our lives with new family members via marriages and births, and an extended family of friends who share our values and beliefs. I choose to believe it was meant to be this way, and my mom’s untimely death launched a chain of events leading to now that was anything but arbitrary.
A Launching Pad and Nothing More
I never felt I fit in with my family in the first place, nor did my mom. At this stage in my life, I realize they were simply the vehicle through which I came back into the world, and were never meant to partner me through the entire journey. I was meant to break away and find my own path—a path far different than what they knew or understood. Perhaps I even saw it coming as a teenager, but wasn’t yet ready to set off on my own without the safety net of family, even if mine was fraught with holes and strife.
In a lot of ways, I can see now the rift was built into my life from birth, but widened as I grew older, and chafed under the unspoken set of rules I was expected to follow (and rarely understood). A part of me knew I had to find a way to break away from those constricting, yet familiar rules and mores. Fear of being alone was probably the single biggest factor in making me hold on for longer than I should have. Mom’s suicide was definitely the kick in the pants I needed to finally let go of what no longer worked—what in all honesty never worked, nor was it meant to.
I understand now I had to leave the nest, the known, in order to find my authentic self, and learn to be true to her. Nothing and no one was, or ever will be more important than living for myself first and foremost.
Gratitude is My Comfort and My Friend
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful I’m on a journey to find and embrace my authentic self.
- I’m grateful for all the friends and family, both present and past who have helped my on my journey.
- I’m grateful for all the kicks in the pants, and Universal head slaps that have knocked me clean out of my comfort zone.
- I’m grateful for the family that brought me into this world, then launched me out on my own.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, authenticity, vulnerability, joy, sorry, challenges, frustrations, lessons, character, independence, support, community, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.
If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward