“Familia” Is Sometimes Just The Womb We Come Out Of.”
Dear Woo Woo Girl:
My sister lives five blocks away and I haven’t spoke to her in five years. We had a falling out over her making judgements on my life. She is four years older and thought she was entitled to tell me how to live my life. I was 30 and gay. She has reached out to me and asked if I want to meet for coffee. But here’s the problem. I’m still gay – just five years older. I don’t need anyone telling me how to live my life. On top of it, her husband is homophobic, and is uncomfortable around me. They have two children who I use to be close to, and hang out with. While I miss my niece and nephew, do I meet for coffee and live with the same old, same old?
Signed: Do I take the olive branch?
Dear: Do I take the olive branch.
The thing about family is that they can be irritating, troublesome and a royal pain in the ass. They think that the term “familia” allows them a free pass to say and do whatever. Families and siblings cross many personal boundaries because they have not evolved from their past role. You will always be the child in your mothers eyes; the younger sibling in your sister’s eyes.
Whether you are straight, gay, bi, or hetroflexible, it’s just the way it is.
We all played a role that we carried over into adulthood. But the role between siblings sometimes stays stuck. Chances are your sister has been telling you what to do your entire life.
I GET IT!
There comes a point when you don’t need it. But remember, there might have been a time when you did. The judgement part, well that is mostly a family inherent “right” but also an undernourished relationship. ( I knew a mother who loved her son dearly but when she found out he was gay, she stopped all contact with him, even when he was dying from aids. It was harsh and mean yet probably for the best that she removed herself. The incredible lack of kindness was something he didn’t need in what little time was left in his life.)
As for your sister, it has been five years. She may still be judging your lifestyle, and prone to telling you what to do. She also may just miss you or the role she used to play in your life. The question is, can you have a relationship with her, even though she may not approve of your choices. Can you find other things in common? There will always be family who don’t agree with your choices, your boyfriend, your style of living, or your haircut. Chances are you don’t agree with some of her choices – like her husband- either.
It is up to you to decide whether you care enough about their approval, to let their judgement hurt or anger you. It’s also important to remember they are family. I have had screaming matches with members of my family, as an adult. It’s not one of my finer moments, but that’s what families do. (Particularly Italian families.) It’s hard to let go of the roles we play and just be.
Family is a place we are either running away from , or running to.
They trigger childhood roles, and resentments. When I find myself fuming about someone in my family, because it WILL happen, I try and remember the good times we had as children or the silliest thing we did, or the sweetest time we had together. Family dynamics are complicated. And, we don’t always remember things accurately. But family is our history. It held the power to define who you are, for good or bad.
SO…I SAY… give her a chance.
Have that cup of joe. If you feel she still is “miss bossy pants” then lay down some parameters. Let her know family is important to you, but so is living life on your terms. Then change the subject. Catch up on her life, talk about a book you read, plan an outing with her kids. Keep it superficial. You don’t need to immerse yourself into the intensity of family life or her life, but rather be the fun uncle everyone wants to hang with. As for her husband, take it slow. It doesn’t have to be part of the package deal.
On the flip side, because there always is and another side –
sometimes family is just the womb that we come out of and the roof over our head.
The screaming mother, the weird brother who surely came from outer space never resonated with you from the get go. For whatever reason-karma- flawed gene pool – switched at birth, family was not the union it should or could have been.
Family can just be strange people related by blood without the bond. If that’s the case, leave them behind and create your own vital pod without guilt. Practice “Letting Go” Yoga with Adrienne, and simply work on creating a warm intimacy with people who have your back. But be forewarned, your new “family” will come with it’s own dynamic. There will always be weird stuff.
We cannot escape it.