By in Family

When Family Rallies Around Us

Families can be a great source of strength and support. They can also be a great source of sorrow and pain. Sometimes, it even feels they are both in the same breath.

As with any family, there are times that when it seems there is a bombardment of challenges. When one lets up and there is relief, there is another lurking around the corner.

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Families do not always share their struggles; some people are quiet and try to hide them, sometimes for years. But eventually, we all need be open and vulnerable, because we cannot keep living the lies of "perfection."

That is what we learn as we mature, or so we can hope.

When we are 20-years-old and our parents are around 40, we see them as annoying and into our business. Some people break off ties, walk away, go stealth, and do not stay in touch enough for even a phone call on a birthday or other holidays.

For two decades (or more?) some of us do whatever we can to avoid having to look into those moments that make us uncomfortable. At times, we are avoiding having to look in the mirror, so to speak.

But there comes a time in life, we realize that we chose the role we played in those decades we were spreading our wings, and sowing our own oats. We have to admit that we insisted on doing it our own way, discarded any advice given, and ignored our own intuition at the expense of admittance of being wrong or immature.

We are stunned to have flown into a plate-glass window, not seeing it coming. We are hungry, and now have learned that oats cannot grow in hard, cracked clay. If we only had listened.

When life knocks us for a loop, we have to reach out. If we have not cultivated relationships with others, we are not sure what will become of us or the situation, but we have nowhere else to turn. So, we do it anyway, and begin to test the waters to trust again. It seems to happen sometime around 40-ish.

We realize that we do not trust ourselves, as we are facing our own life and trying to figure out how we could be so foolish. If we cannot trust ourselves to make sound decisions, how do we know who to trust? Some of us also face feelings of guilt in how we treated others.

So, we step back out little-by-little. We relearn again for the very first time. (Yes, I intentionally chose those words.)

What we might find is that we have parents (and, if we are lucky...grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.), who have gone through their own maturation process. They, too, lived through the same thing at 40-ish, and two decades later, they see life from their unique perspectives.

Through the challenges and the pain they have lived for the last four decades since they were 20, they begin to see the patterns in life from their own perspective, and they open up their hearts in hopes of helping to soften yours. They rally around, and we find ourselves doing the same, when strong enough to do so.

It is up to us to start to develop our own intuition to recognize patterns, limit that which does not make sense, and to choose wisely, as things make more sense. We learn to set better boundaries, and we take ownership of our own lives.

It is certainly complicated, at best. But it seems to follow patterns that can be seen and stories heard throughout time.

Are family members still annoying? Do they still cause pain? Yes, of course.

At some point, we start to see the heart and love in others, as we begin to learn to trust our own selves again. In turn, we also have an opportunity to show others just how much we are capable of love.

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(Author's note: When my daughter left home in the spring of 1994, it was extremely painful. I was 39-years-old and my mother was 60, nearly the same ages that my daughter and I are today.

My mother reached out to me in my pain and f or the next 17 years, we began to have some rather open conversations, where I was able to accept my mother as a woman who felt the same pain in life that I was feeling. I finally saw her as someone who struggled in her life as I was struggling.

Through our shared struggles as women, we understood one another in ways that we did not understand as mother and daughter. I cherish those 17 years.

It was four years ago this month that I realized that my mother was not well and our time was limited. She passed away in June 2011. I miss her deeply.)

© 2015 Coral Levang

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Image Credit » by SaWi

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Deema wrote on April 19, 2015, 2:25 PM

Your first sentence completely confuzed me, what is RGD, if I may ask?

CoralLevang wrote on April 19, 2015, 2:29 PM

Thank you for your feedback. I started to write something else and left that in. It has been removed.
RGD are the initials of my daughter's father, who is my friend nowadays. We have not lived together in 18 yrs.

Kasman wrote on April 19, 2015, 2:42 PM

Families are strange things. They can be, at one and the same time, a source of infinite joy and a source of infinite pain. As youngsters we don't realise all that goes to make a family; it is something we only learn with age and, sadly, by that time it is too late.

Soonerdad3 wrote on April 19, 2015, 2:43 PM

Unfortunately, most of my family all live halfway across the country from me and the only time I hear from most of them is when someone bad happens.

CoralLevang wrote on April 19, 2015, 2:45 PM

Yes, how true. We can never get that time back. One can hope, however, that some of the things we say and do in our teens and early 20s, we will have time to say, "I'm sorry." If we do not, we must live with the knowledge of what we have also done. So, so complicated.

I have a friend who says, "Family is a four-letter word." LOL

MegL wrote on April 19, 2015, 3:27 PM

I think we learn something new in every era of our lives and yes, we need to keep up and redevelop our relationships.

seren3 wrote on April 19, 2015, 4:49 PM

Almost speechless. Glad Kasman sent me over here. As usual, you've said it better than many best-seller experts.

msiduri wrote on April 19, 2015, 6:08 PM

Like seren3 , I too am glad Kasman sent me here. My family history is a little more complicated than some, I think. I've made peace with those I wish to make peace with. Those who nothing but destructive I've cut out of my life without regret or (finally) bitterness. That is the prerogative of adulthood.

jiangliu1949 wrote on April 21, 2015, 9:23 AM

Having both happiness and pain is part and parcel of a family ,no matter whether you admit it or not .Since Young peope have scanty experence of life ,so they might know some things to their cost ,but the years will eventually mellow them .

GemOfAGirl wrote on April 29, 2015, 3:09 PM

You are a wise woman. I'm sure that, if she hasn't already, your daughter will soon come to appreciate your wisdom and life experience. This is a wonderful article.

AliCanary wrote on April 29, 2015, 6:05 PM

You are so right--I never started appreciating my older relatives until I myself was more mature, and then I drew closer to my family, realizing what treasures they were. I am glad to say that I was always close with my parents, especially since I have lost them both.