Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Rethinking #45 (2 of 2)

I was profoundly hurt by the experience, as we all were. We all retreated into ourselves, and what was once the family that had always been there when we needed it, just disappeared. Before Dad died, we used to get together nearly every week for barbecues, dinners out, even renting big houses at the coast and spending entire weekends together. Now, I felt fortunate if I saw my sisters once a month. And when we did get together, there was always this elephant in the room with us…the big hurts that no one would talk about, but lurked just below the surface. It was tearing my heart out. Finally, after more than two years of suffering with this estrangement, living only on the other side of town from my sisters, yet feeling like I might as well live on the moon, I decided that we needed to move away. My husband had been commuting to work between Eugene and Portland. It became obvious that the thing to do was to move north, ostensibly to be closer to his job. In reality, I had to put a physical distance between my family and myself that made the emotional distance make sense.

It’s been five years since Dad passed away, and we’ve been away for almost three years. I get along with my sisters well enough now…and they have actually been a tremendous help with my business. So it’s only natural that I would think that what I’d really like to do is to move back "home" to be near my family again. But then, I spend a long weekend with them, as I did last weekend, and I realize that while our relationship has improved, it is by no means healed. Do we fight? No… Do we sit together in stony silence? No… But are we the family we were before Dad left us? Definitely not. And that emotional distance---the one that sent me packing—is still very much in evidence. After two or three days in the midst of what remains of my family, I’m climbing the walls, longing for the physical distance that matches the emotional one. It’s not them…it’s ME. When I’m with them, I’m looking for something, and not finding it. It irks me, because life is too short to be wasting time on stupid, childish expectations of What My Family Should Be Providing For Me.

But, still….I’m glad to be home.


  1. Lisa, there's a girl who has a journal out here and she initially titled it "Aren't All Families Dysfunctional", and then she recently changed it to something else. I was drawn to her journal because of the title--because all families are somewhat dysfunctional and I liked how she just came out and said it. I don't have any answers for you. My family is as distant as they come. I just try to work on myself. It's the best I have to offer...

  2. {{{{{Lisa}}}}}} I hope y'all can build something new together.

  3. to loosely copy JFK: Ask not what your family can do for you but what could you do for your family. I make sure I go more than the distance to communicate and share time with my siblings and extended family; We haven't waited til 'something' happens to connect to one another, we have carefully and meticulously maintained our relationships since childhood. It would so be worth it to overcome and leave behind the past-- start tomorrow, you will be glad you did!! A hug for you, Kristi

  4. You are so full of wisdom.

  5. I don't think most of us could spend too many days with family and not start to get a little twitchy. My sisters and I are very close...but I see them only once or twice a year. When we're together we have a wonderful time, but at some point, someone always ends up getting their feelings hurt. It's just difficult when you've moved on to live seperate lives.