‘Tis the season to be jolly. holiday time brings families and friends close and provide a lot of joy and frivolity. It is time when many of us travel near and far to be with loved ones. It is also a time for frayed nerves and expectations. Recently a good friend of mine confided family conflict and a long history of family dysfunction. My friend had basically severed ties with her sibling due to long standing issues and the inability to be caught in total chaos when in family settings. She expressed feeling a tiny bit of guilt, as she put it “we are family and we are supposed to love one another.”
Family and love. If we are blessed and fortunate, the family unit is a place of great support, encouragement, love and strength. We can count on our families to have our back and be there in our greatest need. Many of us look back with nostalgia at our childhoods and have deep and loyal ties to our family members some who have known us since birth. That is if we are fortunate. However, there are those among us who have grown separate and no longer fit with their families of origin. Dysfunction and pain may run too deep. Where do we draw the line when the family you have always known bring nothing but pain? When every get together is another torture? Personally, I have been witness to forced mingling festivities such as holiday dinners where one is there out of duty not out of desire. Does having the same DNA or blood ties a guarantee of forever love? My friend has told me she had decided to love her relatives from afar as the pain is just too much for her to stand on an ongoing basis. As loving, responsible adults, we also need to love ourselves and respect our boundaries. We can love from afar even when our DNA is so closely connected. We can observe and wish our loved ones well without drowning in the well they have chosen for themselves.