Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dealing with Relationships Uncensored! My Sister: Part 2

Hi guys! If you missed the first part to this series, you may find part one HERE. I know some of you are probably asking yourselves, why is she trying so hard for a relationship with someone who clearly is not on the same page!!? Can’t she take a hint!? Yeah, looking back, I am asking myself the same thing. But to answer that question, I tried so hard because she was family, she was my sister, and WE are Christians…And ever since I knew myself, ever since I met her when I was 8 years old, I dreamed of having a sisterly relationship with her…and the rest of the other siblings too. But at that point (Nov, 2011) when we had that one email exchange where I poured my heart and soul out, clearly stating my hopes and dreams for our relationship as sister, I was kinda left hanging…I realized that I had to wake up and smell the coffee. I realized that it was TIME to stop trying and put away childish dreams. So I took her lack of response, refusal to clarify her statements, and refusal to have a conversation as her saying she couldn’t give me what I wanted…She couldn’t promise to be a friend, sister and aunty to my future children, or to have a really strong, close relationship. And while that did hurt, accepting it was rather freeing…

Monday, September 9, 2013

Dealing with Relationships Uncensored! My Sister

I have been inspired to write a series of posts that will take us through my past, present and future dealings with relationships. I’ll talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly…and really, why are relationships just so hard!!? My first post will resurrect an email I sent to my sister about two years ago.  But before I do, I must share some family history.

I don’t even know how to begin writing about the history of my family without writing a dissertation! But here is the short version… Many years before I was born, my father had several kids who subsequently moved to the US sometime in the late 70s…Out of an adulterous relationship, I was born…which will set the tone for the future relationships with my siblings.

I spent the first 22 years of my life in Trinidad and grew up as an “only child.” While I didn’t grow up with my father’s children, I always knew of them and for as long as I can remembered desired very much to have a relationship with them!  I made several trips to the US during my childhood and was able to meet them…And that served to fuel my desire to be “with them.” In other words, I not only wanted to be physically in the US, I wanted to be part of the family…Share traditions, celebrate milestones etc.

Letter to My Sister

Written on 11/3/11 to one of my sisters...

Hi lady,
Long time no hear! How are you doing?? How is work treating you? What are your plans for the holidays?
We will be visiting NY for a weekend (Nov 18) and cooking something special for mom's birthday. And for xmas we will be in Jamaica with Jared's folks.
Have you ever heard of NAMI - National Alliance for Mental Illness? Well they are a nonprofit group to help support anyone with or families with a loved one with mental illness. So when I taught the ladies class earlier this year on various mental health topics...they came up as a resource (support group)...And I said that I should take this for myself! They had a class called - Family to Family for family members with a family member who has a mental illness. The class goes for 12 weeks and functions as a sort of educational support group. It has been such an amazing experience. Never before was I able to sit in an environment with other people like me...who understood what it is like, or was like...The first class was just emotionally overwhelming because I saw another girl who's mother had schizophrenia...I had never even spoken to someone like that before. And just for that alone I was thankful...We just finished week we have 3 more weeks to go. When I was talking to the other girl in a similar situation like me, we realized that though we were in two different countries we had similar feelings, emotions, and experiences. One of the things she said was that she often wished that she was in a "normal family" and her goal was to "get out of the house" and never be found in a situation like that. It was like WOW - me too! Since I was 13, my whole being was about getting out...One of the things the teacher said to us was that our experiences attracted us to stable and sound men...And I thought that was very interesting...In light of my family upbringing and how unsettling it was at times, my end goal was to always just be happy and be normal...And I really feel like I have that now.
One of the things that made me think about as well, was that when I was growing up in Trinidad I had always envisioned being a part of your family...That was part of the happy "normal" family picture I had painted for myself. To me, normal families talked to each other and tried to spend time together, and supported each other in major milestones of their life etc. So I always had it in my mind, that that is how it will be when I get to the US...
So when I first got here, I really made a pointed effort to stay in touch, communicate regularly, send regular emails etc. But I slowly started getting discouraged because it was not reciprocated the way I had imagined. And it often made me feel unloved...I don't think anyone was INTENTIONALLY trying to hurt was just that I had high hopes and expectations that were not met because basically, "that's not how we roll." We can go months, even years without talking, and everyone thinks that's normal...Whereas, I dont think that is normal...I think that is SAD!
And I wanted to let you know that my desire for us was to foster a closer relationship as sisters...not distant, pumpkin-vine relatives...I want to have that sister-sister relationship that I always dreamed about when I was a little girl...I want to invite you into my heart, so you can get to know me...know my highs and lows and be one of the cheer leaders in my life...And I want to be the same for you.
I do not like that we do not speak regularly. I know that we are all busy...But I also believe that people  make time for the things that are important to them. AND I think my family is important...Important enough for me to call and email regularly and stay connected with what's going in in their life...
I want to know that if or when Jared and I have kids, that you will be there...And they won't be like me with no aunties, uncles, cousins or grandparents! But they would have a loving extended family who embraces them. I want us to be connected more than we are now.
I know that most if not everyone is really not bothered by the lack of communication because that has been our style from ever since...But I would like us to try to be different...And to make a concerted effort. If we can spend time with people in church building relationships...and encouraging each other spiritually, then why cant we do it for each other.
It saddens me that we don't talk often, and I wish for that to change. That is why I am expressing my thoughts now. I have always felt this way and I realized that I never truly communicated what I desired...I tried a couple years ago, but I dont think I was clear. So I am doing it now and being as transparent as possible. When you lived in PA, I felt that we were closer than we are now. I remember we talked often, emailed regularly, and you visited me at one of my internships and I visited you...We traveled together to CA etc. I miss that...
I hope you receive this in love, the way it was intended and written.


things r going well thanks
I just wanted to respond some with my perception things:
When there r a lot of expectations and they're not being met the way one wants, it can lead to others feeling judged and criticized which leads to hurt & defenses going up; then it becomes a cycle of hurt both ways.
Someone told me that hurt people hurt other people. We all are who we are - good and bad and we all have our own issues to deal with and we're not always there to meet others expectations whether that's right or wrong at the time. We all need to feel loved and appreciated wherever we we are at. No one wants to go through life feeling stressed whether from feeling rejected, criticized etc. In the end all we can do is appreciate the blessings we do have, know our limits and boundaries in relationships and where we can get our support and hope for growth in ourselves and others where needed. We all need healing. But that is what I want to share for now, hope it was understandable and received well,

I wrote back to say that I was a bit unclear by the response and asked a few questions to clarify and asked if we could talk (once again)...But alas, a response was never received and that was my queue to move on. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Relationship Series – Getting Real About Dealing With People

I often say, “people and strange…and do strange things!” And I just don’t understand why. More recently, I have been thinking about my various relationships, the difficulties I have experienced within those relationships, and the sometimes failed end results. In the next few posts I’m going to talk about MY relationship experiences, my challenges, hopes and fears…I think about my son, and what I want to teach him, through my example, about how to build authentic relationships. Too many times we are not authentic in our relationships and really end up being very disingenuous….knowingly or unknowingly. I would like to give folks the benefit of the doubt that we unknowingly hurt others, we unknowingly stomp on people’s feelings, we unknowingly ignore the pain because of our own inner conflict. But sometimes when we DO know (maybe because the person told us), we deny, point the blame back on the person or even blame someone else…It’s so hard for us to accept that we hurt someone, especially when that was not our intention.