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Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. I sometimes think that trying to maintain a healthy relationship with my family bears an uncanny resemblance to this philosophy.
Everyone loves their family or hates them…or loves to hate or hates to love. And when I say “family” I’m not talking about the ones you live with…oh no, that’s for a later post and date when my kids diss on the family they grew up in…and what was right or wrong…or remembered differently by all as either ideal or nightmarish. And speaking from experience, the realities could be both, depending on who you ask and when.
The family I’m talking about is the one you grew up in…the one that included your parents and siblings. The ones that know exactly what to say when you think there isn’t anything anyone can say that will make you feel worse about any given situation. The ones that know all the right buttons to push…the ones that will, in a single breath, wonder in surprise why you suffer from low self esteem…followed by a dig in some area of your life you feel the most vulnerable about.
know who you are…I mean you know what I’m talking about, right?
In the country, as in rural areas (not countries in the way we define geography), they used to refer to family as your “people.” I remember my Granny, who frequently made friends and neighbors by asking where “their people came from.” Today, I’m not sure it is still said or shared. But if asked, I could tell you who my people were growing up…but more importantly, I could tell you about how I redefined the lines of my family tree to include persons I have come to consider family, even though we have no shared bloodlines or childhood memories.
I’m a huge Grey’s Anatomy fan and I have shamelessly adopted Meredith and Cristina’s definition of a “person.” And I consider myself extremely fortunate to have two such persons in my life. They are the ones, who show up for me at a moment’s notice. They are the ones who help with damage control when my “people” from birth catch me by surprise, landing sucker punches in my gut.
They remind me to stop when I’m circling Einstein’s insanity with family and celebrate when I reach new milestones like mowing my grass, making it through the work week…or finishing a day without crawling into a fetal position. I’m joking (mostly)…seriously! (channeling a little bit of Izzy, who I really miss from the show).
So I’m smiling today and thinking about where my “people” come from and how to live in a reality that lets me forgive and forget or just say F’em when they are at their very worse…seeking to pull me down from the journey I am trying to continue…learning and growing all the time. Seeking to be a better person, better mother, and a better friend.
Because having two amazing persons who mean the world to me means that I want to give that same level of support and awesomeness back. Candidly, I think they both are much more self-sufficient than me; they’ve figured out how to avoid Einstein’s curse of repetition. And yet, they’ve always got my back and even in at my worse “told you so” moments, they laugh it off with me instead of rubbing it in (whatever, and when they rub it in, I laugh in spite of myself).
I think it’s important to know where your people came from and how to keep from being sucked back into the madness of things that hold you back. It’s a combination of forgive and forget…sometimes settling on “forget” when the latest freeze frame moment of discontent pulls you back a few steps from where you started at the beginning of your day.
And I hope my persons know I’m as much their “person” as they are mine…and stand at the ready to defend, protect, and cheer up any time, day or night. My people (the ones I grew up with) will always be a part of who I am and where I started. They will always be my family in some way or another, even when we choose not to talk or stay actively connected.
But for my persons, I feel the need to grab a crayon and sketch out two new branches in that family tree. And I know those branches are the sturdiest of stock, now permanently connected to me and mine…I can’t tell you much about their people and where they came from, but I can tell you they both arrived just in the nick of time at different times in my life. And I am forever grateful for the extraordinary gift I have in each of them.