originally published oct 15, 2014
(this story seems particularly apt these days, given how the current political situation has torn families and even marriages asunder.)
The pain of my family haunted me all my life. My parents and siblings were not particularly evil people, but they were small and callous, jealous and petty, insecure and often mean. The toxic dynamics in my childhood shaped me as an adult – my needs, desires, fears, insecurities, my ways of interacting with the world.
When friends or acquaintances make us unhappy, we are free to sever those ties. Family, for better or worse, is forever. I withdrew as much as possible from mine, but there were inevitably situations where interaction was unavoidable. Family is genetically and biologically intertwined.
I dreaded the occasions when I had to spend time with them. I always left their company licking my wounds, feeling once again, like a rejected, unwanted child.
No one in my family understood my choices. At best, I was tolerated but never embraced. I was unwelcome and unaccepted not because of anything I had done, but simply because of who I was and what I believed. My feelings were never taken seriously. My siblings’ own families later learned to mock and mistreat me the same way.
It wasn’t until much later in my adulthood, when I met other outsiders like myself, that I eventually found love. Because it had taken me so long to find it, I treasured it. I savored the feeling of being embraced and accepted for exactly who I was.
Even so, it took me most of my life to shed the pain of being shut out of my family. I clung to my anger because it made my pain righteous. I refused to let it go until I had from them an apology; an acknowledgement of wrongdoing. I wanted them to accept responsibility for the misery they had caused me.
Finally, I understood I would never have that from any of them. My only release was in forgiveness.
That was the lesson I was born to learn.
We travel and are reborn, again and again, with the same group of souls. But sharing the same journey does not mean we will receive love or understanding from each other. Some share our paths specifically to aggrieve us, or for us to aggrieve them. The same soul may take the form of a different kind of nemesis in each lifetime.
From irritants, an oyster can make a pearl.
The hardest kind of forgiveness is for those who don’t believe they need to be forgiven.
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