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The Ties that Bind

I come from a decently-sized extended family on both sides.  My mom has 3 brothers, my dad has 3 brothers and a sister. 

When my family moved to North Dakota in 1981, there were just the 4 of us.  It was a shock.  We went from a large extended family, with multiple gatherings throughout the year – to just us 4.  No more the huge family dinners for Thanksgiving.  No more summer family gathers at Great-Grandma’s at the lake in Minnesota.  No more camping in each other’s yards so we could do “the family thing”.  No more cousins running all over the place, picking on one another, playing together, fighting like siblings. 

This weekend, I was reminded of the ties that bind you to your family, and how those ties can help, but can also harm.

Xxxxx, OnlySon and I went to a family gathering yesterday for his side of the family.  They were all getting together for a “Greek Day”, some of the members had been to the homeland for a vacation this summer, and wanted to show and tell.

Before we ever got there, there was a phone call to my Mother-In-Law to let her know that a couple of her siblings had an altercation.  There was some old, bad blood there about things that neither of them could control when they were younger, but one was blaming the other for past abuses.  As the eldest, Mother-in-Law was almost expected to step in and calm the situation.  But, these “children” were all over the age of retirement. 

For me, I felt empathy for the attacked party, as what had happened was not her fault, but rather sins of the father, carried unto the next generation. 

It immediately threw me back to the reason I started the blog.  The e-mail that my brother sent me at the close of last year that caused me to all but abandon my Facebook page, and came quite close to me cutting ties with him forever.  An attack that, for me, came from left field and left me confused and devastated.  Old arguments, ancient wounds, were reopened and lay bleeding as though fresh. 

And, as much as I would like things to be better, they stalled at “tolerable”.  He told me that he was sorry for hurting me, and could I forgive him.  I told him I’d let it go, for our mother’s sake, but forgiveness had to be earned.  We stopped there, and it’s never been the same.

The family web upon which we sit is a fragile thing, like the web of a spider in a high wind.  The ties are all glued together, and the spider sits frantically in the middle, trying desperately to cling to all the holds.  But the strands can be torn apart, and once torn, the spider usually shreds the old web and builds a new one.

Family webs are not so easily mended.  You can’t simply “start over” all the time.  Most of the time you try to mend the torn strands to make it look whole again, to be functional.  But once the damage is done, it will never be as beautiful and perfect as it was at the start. 

Sometimes, you just have to shred the old web.


6 thoughts on “The Ties that Bind

  1. Very insightful thoughts. Personally relevent to me as my family web is quite tattered. I haven’t thougth about like this before, but your dead on. Thanks.

    • You’re welcome, and thanks for reading. Coming up again on the holidays makes me really stop and consider those ties, and remember what the web looked like when I was little, and how it’s changed to the present. Thanks for the nice comment!

  2. * Hugs * Family is complicated. I don’t know anyone who has a “perfect web”. Love you, Brea.

    • Love you too, Penny! (HUGS) The family member that got “attacked” yesterday was baffled as to how it was triggered, and I told her the only thing I could “Family can cut us deeper because they are bound to us tighter.”

      Complicated, frustrating, helpful, frightening, meddlesome, loving, affectionate, infuritating. The list of emotional adjectives for “family” is endless!

  3. Spiders consume the ragged and broken web and recycle it as a new one.
    I have little family left, my husband almost none. I think this is why we have both sought people as friends who then become family, and in some ways maybe that’s better than those we are tied to by blood. I have little in common with my brother except spiders(he’s an insect and spider expert)
    take care.

  4. I hear what you are saying about the moving away thing. That seems to be the story of my life, and the end result is that I’m sort of a black sheep in the family. Being far away and missing too many events leads to the rest of the family thinking you are eccentric, anti-social or worse. I didn’t even hear about my grandfather passing away until the funeral had already taken place, thus depriving me of the opportunity to attend. So I know it can be hard dealing with the physical separation from family.

    I’m sorry to hear about that email from your brother and I’m glad those ties didn’t get irrevocably cut. Sometimes people hurt us. When I can, I forgive. But I always remember.

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