When my cousin Jessica was here, she and I stayed up until 3:30am talking about just about everything that you can think of. It was so interesting (to both of us I think), to see how very different we viewed the same things. This was enlightening and eye-opening and just something I've been thinking about ever since.
For example, the grandmothers that I grew up knowing, loving, adoring, and admiring, are not the same women that she grew up with. Granted, almost 99% of how we see things is in some way shaped by the people around us, but it was so interesting to talk about the differences in how she and I viewed the world we grew up in.
It's also interesting to me, that for the longest time I saw things the same way that my parents did, and I took everything they said as 100% truth. I should clarify here, that the most important thing to remember when talking to someone else, is that what they see as their truth, IS THEIR TRUTH. Regardless of how incorrect it may be, if it's how they see things, then it's THEIR TRUTH. Does that makes sense?
We can't control how others see things, how they react to things, or how they feel. We can only control how WE feel, how WE react, and how WE see things. So that being said, at some point in my life, I began to see my parents as humans and instead of listening to everything they said as the 100% truth... I started to judge and decide for myself. It's natural and something that children (should) do at some point.
I think the harm is when people don't start to view things for themselves. If they take the perspective that they grew up with, and they never question or begin to decipher things for themselves, they will never grow and learn. The harm done in the past, will continue to be the harm done in the present.
Too often, when parents have issues with their family members, the children involved always suffer. How can they not? I remember when I was little and we were at my Great Aunt Fran and Uncle Herb's house and my mom and Aunt Margie had all of us kids out there visiting for the day. Something was said between my mom and Aunt and my Uncle Herb and he basically told them that they were wrong and he wouldn't tolerate being argued with in his own home. Like that, my mom and aunt told us kids (who were playing and completely unaware of their adult conversation) to pack it up and get in the car.
I remember that we had ordered pizza for lunch and were waiting for the pizza to arrive. I vividly remember asking, "What about the pizza?" and was firmly told to do as I was told and get in the car. It was scary and all of us kids were sad.
That was the last time I saw my Aunt Fran and Uncle Herb.
While it's important as adults to stick to our guns and do what we think is right, it's also critical to think about how our decisions will impact our children and their own perspectives on things.
Maybe that incident is why I have such strong views on this, but children should NEVER pay for the decisions of their parents. If two adults don't want a relationship anymore, fine, but don't make the children pay for it. Don't take their cousins and aunts and uncles away.
When my mom and Jessica's mom had a "falling out" both moms said that they didn't do anything wrong and it was a sudden decision on the others part to not speak anymore. It's impossible that no one was to blame... the action occurred and SOMEONE caused it... but neither sees their part. When they had their "falling out" both felt victimized and wronged. They didn't see each other anymore, and the relationship was severed. The saddest part was that not only did their relationship end, but my relationship with my cousins ended, and my relationship with my Aunt Mary and Uncle Gene ended as well. I (and my brothers) took my mom's side (of course) and my cousins took their mom's side.
Time passed and things happened, the relationships were never fully repaired. I was sad for my mom that she lost her sister. I was sad for myself and my brothers that we lost our aunt, uncle, and cousins. But it's interesting to know that Jessica felt the same way. My adult self now wonders why did we kids have to lose out too?
It's enlightening when you come to the realization that not everything is as it appears. I think it takes growth and maturity to reach this stage in your life, but once you do, it's incredibly uplifting. Wrongs from the past can be made right, and old wounds can be healed. It's still sad to know that so many years are wasted because of stubbornness and the inability to forgive someone.
I think families are such amazing dynamics. Jessica and I grew up together and saw each other multiple times a week. Our moms are sisters and our dads are brothers. That in itself caused some drama as you could probably imagine. Women who get together that much, are bound to have disagreements and because of this nifty little thing called perspective, how we see things around us shapes our reactions and judgments.
It's nice to know that regardless of the "truths" that we were raised with about various family issues, we're old enough and mature enough to sort them out for what they really were (the perspectives of our families) and move past them and start focusing on the present and future. Without the past, we cannot move forward and without learning from the past, the same mistakes can be made.
I feel really lucky to have the relationships that I have with all members of my family. I'm closer to my dad now than I've ever been in my life, and I have the relationship with him that I always hoped I'd have, but never thought was possible. I'm as close to my mom today as I've always been and consider her to be one of the best individuals that I've ever had the privilege of knowing. I've always been close to Scott (my twin) and continue to be close with him as an adult, and then I adore my oldest brother Dave. While I don't talk to him (or Scott) on the phone as often as I think about them, I know I can call either of them at any time for any reason and they'll be there to love and support me. Both of them have stepped up into my life at times that I needed them most, and they will always remain respected, adored, loved, and valued members of my immediate family.
I don't know how things could have been different. I don't know how adults that have a falling out can still let their children have relationships with the same person they have fallen out with. I think it takes strength, courage, and faith to not make your children suffer for issues that you have as their parent.
I hope that Gus (and any future siblings he may have) never has to suffer the loss of family because of issues that I have with my family members. Steve doesn't have a relationship with his brother AT ALL and it's kinda the same thing. Gus won't ever know his Uncle Monty, Aunt Heather, or his cousins Anna and Ryan. It's something that is just how it'll be. The difference is that I don't even know them, as they never welcomed me into the family, and isolated themselves from Steve and his dad as soon as his mom passed. It was pretty much their choosing, and Steve feels life is too short to beg people to have anything to do with you. He's right.
I hope that if there's ever a problem between myself and either of my parents, brothers or my in-laws, that I don't make Gus suffer from the issues that I have.
Anyway-- that's my ramble on perspective and how incredible it is. Much love to all written about in this post. Regardless of the past, the present is as it should be and things (in my life anyway) are great. I feel lucky to have the relationships that I have and the ability to know that my perspective isn't reality for everyone, but it's MY reality and that's all that matters.