26 Jun MAY – Connect with family
Connect with family
Similar to my resolution to connect with friends, I was eager to improve my connection with my family. I had been feeling as though there was a hole or void in my life with the absence of both parents – and I was desperately looking to fill it.
The sadness I feel every day after losing my mum and my fathers choice to abandon his relationship with me – plagues me. Even when I searched images for this post. Quotes such as ‘Family, forever, for always. No matter what.’ or ‘Family, lifes greatest gift.’ or ‘Family. An anchor during rough waters.’ Well, I’m sorry to burst your lovely bubble Google Search. But my realistic brain calls your bullshit. When I think about my father – his love is not for always and forever. It’s non-existent. He is not my greatest gift. He certainly was never an anchor for me during rough waters. He is the storm!
It is thoughts like this – these angry, formidable, negative thoughts, that consume me…
Why do I always divert to him when considering family? Why don’t I think about Matt and smile as I imagine the two of us talking about having our own little family one day? Or my sister and her husband and their 2 hilarious and witty children? Why don’t I stop and consider Matt’s large family, the way they lovingly poke fun at each other, laughter booming from the pits of their stomachs? Why?
Then, I stumbled across this quote…
Through conversations with my psychologist the year before, she had noted that in order to feel this sense of fulfilment that I was lacking, I could work towards deepening my connection not only my remaining family but also with Matt’s. I hadn’t been as proactive in doing this so thought I would start by just building up the frequency of our conversations. I made it my resolution to catch up with a family member each day – via text, phone call or face-to-face.
The relationships that needed the most work was with my sister Sheila and brother Neil. These were dads children from his previous marriage and were 18 and 16 years older than me. Unlike with my sister Georgia, we hadn’t grown up together. We shared something in common – our father. What we also shared was the same experience. All of us had been discarded. All of us had witnessed things no child should. All of us were lacking a good, loving and decent father figure.
I had been in pretty good contact with my sister Sheila since the beginning of the year. We had reconnected after a few years of just being slack and it was nice to catch up with her and her gorgeous girls in Melbourne over the holiday break. My brother had come to but time and life had gotten the best of both of us and we hadn’t been as good at keeping in touch since. Around mid-may Sheila called me to let me know that my father had contacted her. The nature of his phone call had not been positive. Whilst digging himself into a deeper hole, he had made some harsh comments about me. Upon hearing this, I instantly regressed into self-pity, low self-esteem, disappointment and finally my anxiety became to creep back into my mind and bury it’s self into my conscious.
No part of me could rationalise what was happening with him and why he didn’t “love me.” This prompted many anxiety attacks over the course of the month. Of course, with these bouts of anxiety, came reflection. It was in these reflective conversations with Matt and my sister that I discovered that connecting with family was healing to me. I had to hone in on what I had, as apposed to what I was lacking. I gently reminded myself of my commandment to ‘heal.’ Although I will never fill that parental void, I could work towards deepening my bonds with those family members who were still around and most definitely loved me.
Like with my friends, I utilised my time in the car on my way to and from work to text and call the various members of my family. Matt’s mother Wendy even asked me one day “Is this your special family time?” when I called her on my way home from work.
“YUP!” I exclaimed cheerily!
Smiles. Connection. Love. Happiness.
I continued to talk to my sister Sheila in Melbourne, I chatted with my nieces and nephew. The frequency of conversations with my family increased and I felt better for it. My sister Georgia is almost just as busy and I am. I swear that woman needs an assistant! In my head, I envision this person to have a headset permanently attached to their ear. Hand that imaginary person a medal! My sister is a maniac (in a good way) and I don’t know how she doesn’t lose her shit like I do! We didn’t get to have as many catch up’s as I would have liked. Although what differed in comparison to my connections with other members of my family was the quality of our conversations. The bond that we share is amazing and upon hanging up the phone or leaving Georgia’s house, I always feel heard, validated and well prepared for my next challenge or adventure. She gave the best advice and I am so appreciative that I have her guidance in my life.
Throughout the month, I definitely improved my ability to connect with my family. I noted however that my connection with my nieces and nephew required attention. Being a teacher, didn’t lend itself well to being a good aunt. I often find that because I spend every working day with children, I need a break! I was reminded of my commandment to ‘try to be better with every new day’ and thought that by setting a similar resolution in June to ‘check in’ with family, I might be a step closer to keeping track of what was happening in their little worlds.
Overall, the month was a success, I recognised a bond growing with my sister Sheila, a continued understanding that Georgia was my spirit sista and a deeper connection with my in-laws. Perhaps the biggest indication that I had found a place within my new family was when I opened up my birthday card from my mother and father-in-law, a smile spread brightly across my face as I read…
“If we could pick another daughter, It’d be you…”