I don’t come from a large family or a particularly close family so I’ve always envied large families and ones that are super close. It’s always been something I wish I had but figured I wouldn’t ever really have. I mean most of my family lives half a world away and it’s fragmented at best so I came to accept that I just wouldn’t ever have that big, fun, family that I had always dreamed of. Then I married my husband. He has his own children which gave us an instantly larger family and he has a brother who’s married with children so I thought YES! I will finally have the large, close knit family I had always wanted. So I worked. And worked, and worked, and worked. I worked at being accepted, at being loved by that extended family, at pulling together the family I had always hoped for and for a time, a very short time, I thought we had actually overcome all the differences, all the troubles, all the drama of years past and we were finally a “family”.
Boy was I wrong. I’ve mentioned how wrong I can be, right?
I have come to the realization that it was all just a big delusion on my part. That “close-knit” family I had come to be so proud of was really all in my head. Over the years, we would host big family dinners and celebrate as a family but for the first time, I’m realizing that it was always me to initiate those get togethers. We would constantly extend invites to outings, picnics, backyard BBQ’s, dinners, movies, whatever and there would always be an excuse or a reason that they wouldn’t be able to come. We would share our alcohol, food, work, time, pay for our niece, etc but those favours were never returned. As a matter of fact, all we’ve ever been accused of is not helping enough.
For a short time, I felt like I had a brother close to me but it was just another delusion. I was a time-filler. Someone to go for coffee with and, most times, pay for it. My sister-in-law once said to me, that she was tired of being the one to pursue a relationship with someone. That relationships were two-way streets and it felt like she was always the one working. Funny, I’ve always been the one working on a relationship with her. Clearly I missed the message. I am disposable to both of these people. That became so clear when I finally, for once, told the truth. I knew that there were some shady things happening and I just couldn’t watch the games that were being played around me. I sought counsel of many people about what they would do and the vote was split. Some said tell, others said don’t. I care about the person being hurt. I care about the person doing the hurting. So I decided that if I was asked, I wouldn’t lie. And I didn’t. Holy backlash batman!
The whole situation makes me so sad. I’ve tried to be angry but I’m not. I’m just sad. These realizations are always the hardest. It is hard to realize that you don’t mean much to someone, especially when you’ve held that person, or in this case people, in such high regard.
The great thing about realizing who you mean little to, is you also start to realize who you mean a lot to. I’ve been so focussed on making the family I married into work that I lost sight of the family that I actually built. I have really amazing friends, many of whom I consider family. I was able to realize that I’d really neglected relationships with people who mean the world to me and I’m so thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to start rebuilding them. People who want me around simply because they like who I am and enjoy spending time with me.
At the end of it all, life is just teaching me the true definition of “family”.