Thursday, April 23, 2009

Families ~ gifts or downfalls?

Families. That one word can mean so many things.  It can mean a new beginning with the birth of a beautiful baby.  Or loved ones who will teach you to tie your shoes, bake cookies with you or help with a school project.  It could be a smile on the face of a loving parent walking you down the aisle on your wedding day. Or a hand to hold during the last precious hours of your life when you are old and frail.  All of these things are some of the wonderful aspects of families.  But then there is the flip side of this coin.

Through my life, I’ve had all different types of family.  Of course I had my traditional family with my parents, brother, and grandparents.  They were the core of my universe.  Sadly, they have all passed on and I am the only one left now.  I’m an orphan.  But along the way, I’ve been able to create other types of families.  I’ve been married into a couple of them.  I’ve been honorarily adopted into some other ones.  I’ve been very lucky to have had all these people in my life.

Sometimes though families break down or hit a bump in the road.  Sometimes the people that are the closest to you, whether through birth or circumstance, are the ones that can hurt you the most in this world.  When this happens, I believe, it is the worst type of pain because you trust and rely on these people and you don’t see the hurt about to hit you when it’s coming from someone so very close to your heart.

Family members can hurt you like no other.  You just let your guard down because you are so close with these people.  And it has happened to me time and time again, but it still just rocks me to my center when it happens.  I was raised as an only child after my brother passed away when I was small. Later on, it was just my mom and I.  So I always wanted to be part of a large family with lots of brothers and sisters.  And when my mom passed away, it left just me.  The one and only person in the whole world that loved me unconditionally was gone and I’d never feel that kind of love again.  Even though I have Bean now and I have that unconditional love for her, it is still different than feeling your own mother’s love.

When I got married (both times), I thought it was a chance to join a huge family and possibly feel that unconditional love again.  Now I will say that I have felt love from both of these families but it’s definitely not the unconditional love that I’ve craved for so long.  And the love that I’ve felt from them does come with unspoken conditions.  When something happens and those conditions come into play, you find out real fast that you are still on the outside looking in.  You are instantly reminded that you are only there because you've been "allowed in" but that will only get you so far.  When you are an orphan on the outside looking in, it is the loneliest place in the world.  And if relations do get better and you try to get back to normal, you never feel completely at ease because you know how quickly it could be wrecked again.

Families, biological or otherwise, can be the greatest gift and the greatest downfall all at the same time.  Sometimes when you think you have a gift, you just don’t see the fall until it’s too late.  You can only pray that you will recover from the tumble.
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