November 7, 2008


Filed under: Essays — unwriter1 @ 3:49 pm
Tags: , ,

I learned a lot in the last twenty-four hours about my past and my place or rather the lack thereof, in the family. I always felt like the outsider. I was not good enough to be called a Berry. There has been sixty-one years of pain. Maybe now I will be able to resolve part of it. But until then, below is what I wrote about families that care and I believe strongly there is more love in extended families than real ones.

People do not have to be related by blood to be part of a family. You don’t even have to be human. But what is a family? The defining words are love and trust. There has to be an underlying current of unconditional love. Each member of a family will have their individual problems, but within the unit these should be mutually accepted. This also brings up one other important requirement, listening.

A very important distinction must be made here. Listening and hearing are NOT the same. When a person ‘hears’ something, the sound enters the ear long enough to register as sound, but the meaning does not register. When a person ‘listens’, a sound enters the ear and is allowed to enter the cognitive function part of the brain. I used to hear, now I listen. Are you a listener, or a hearer?

Trust is critical. You must be trustworthy to be trusted. Families do not keep secrets from each other. How does one earn that coveted trustworthy status? One has to be upfront and honest. Things break down quickly at the first hint of deception. Regaining the trust of others is an arduous task. If a person says they are going to do something, make sure it gets done.

Then we have the two magic words, love and like. To love someone means you care. You won’t always agree but must care enough to try and understand your family’s point of view. To love is to help the other members. For the one you fall in love with, caring is so much more important. Being with them in good times is easy. When times are hard, when emotional issues or sickness arrives, that is when you must stand by the person you are in love with. Emotional issues, especially depression, are the most difficult to deal with. It is also at this time when a person must stand by their loved one the closest. So, when these issues arise, do you show the person you are in love with more care and consideration? Or the door?

As pointed out by a very acute reader and I agree with this,

LIKING a person is so much beter than love–I love my biological family, but I don’t LIKE most of them–and that makes the difference of who you trust and want to spend time with.



  1. Very poignant. I am of the same mind–family is what you make it, not how someone else chooses to define it.

    I don’t know your story, but I am certain there is healing in the works.

    Comment by Jayne — November 7, 2008 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

  2. So true, Ron. Sometimes I look back at my family when I was a child and realize that our expectations are created in those years when we’re lovable and adorable, then our families disappoint us. The reality is, life isn’t perfect and in order to have the family we want, sometimes we have to BE the family we want. I have four children and a grandbaby. As precious as they are, the real issue is that I have to be the Mom/Grandmom that they need. Sometimes that means they aren’t happy with me, but sometimes I have to say NO. The hardest thing in my life was to tell my grown daughter that I wouldn’t pay her rent when her boyfriend was doing things I totally disapproved of in their apartment. I reminded her that my door was always open, but I refused money for her rent. I know she doesn’t realize it now, but she will eventually realize that it was harder for me to walk away knowing she didn’t have money for the rent than it was for her to watch me walk away. I died that day. It’s still a killer. But, she’s a better person for the fact that she was given the option to do right, and even though it took a few more months after that, she made the right choice. He’s no longer part of her life.

    Life is a hard lesson to learn most of the time, and sometimes, we have to stand where we want to be and allow others to gather around. That often means letting go of those who don’t come to join us.


    Comment by Jan Verhoeff — November 7, 2008 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

  3. Mmm – yes. Sometimes the “families” we have of trusted and loved ones outside of our direct bloodline are truer families in these senses you bring up. Immediate biological families can often be cruel and unforgiving with each other. Nothing like good true friends. If you are blessed with bio family AND a circle of family friends, how wonderful is that?

    Comment by Marvin D Wilson — November 7, 2008 @ 4:39 pm | Reply

  4. Something I share regarding: SIBLING VS. SIBLING
    the book is the key. get it fast. put the broom down. close the door. when you are heart broken, stop the bleeding, heal first..then deal…

    As I reflect on my 60 years, Oldest of 6 and tons of grief, it is not surprising I became a grief counselor.
    The stories are tooooo ugly to share here. However, a buddy called me the other day, knowing that even as my tears are shed today..for a sibling’s betrayal, the enemy has targeted some of my own children.
    I refuse to defend myself, but I also refuse to defame the wrong doers. A dear friend, mother of 14, suggested a book called “Forced To Be Family.” We volunteered to come here, being part of these groups by Divine Assignment.
    I “knew” I was to have 9 children and have PAID Dearly for being “obediant.” I’ve been accused of being “too enthusiastic (not sharing my sadness/madness); believng my husband and I will be together forever, and that my children are perfect.” (I only quote her,)
    If I could divorce some of the naysayers I would. However, the thought that they won’t be standing up with me at the last day, cuz they couldn’t stand to be around me now is some comfort. They make me obvious by my absence… giving themselves permission to continue their negative barbs.
    Newly added family in-laws are stunned that some of the old stuff is still rehashed. “WHY?” Boredom, jealousy, envy and evil. The dark one wants more turmoil. They operate on the adage of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
    No where do they accept the fact that God remains my friend. As long as that is mirrored and obvious it and I will bug them.
    I call it “I-zing”
    …I will be Priorit-I-zing and Evangel-I-zing my testimony where it will serve the best. I work with terminally ill, so many of the inlaw/outlaws don’t “get it”…it’s too churchy. Visual-I-zing the HOMEGOING and the HOMECOMING on the other side drives me to do the good I can for the friends that have made me “family,”
    My life is not ordinary but the Gospel is Energ-I-zing.” So at the end of the day, when I am writing down my 5:15’s, the end of day review and what I did, what I promised to someone, and did I do any good in the world today?
    Journal-I-zing is my record, my witness … that I SERVED. When “they” come back weeks/months/years later with flat accusations, I have the record of whether I responded ethically, kindly, with love and forgiveness.
    The hardest thing for me, for 58 years STILL, is biting my tongue and not railing AT THEM, instead of softening my hurt/hard heart and praying that HE will heal them. It’s not forgetting the abuse, cruelty and betrayal. It is asking the ONE who suffered the MOST to help me understand their view.

    And to help me keep my head down, and my mouth shut! When you are the OLDEST/Bossiest Sister and SuperMom it is hard not to pontificate, judge, retaliate, lash out, flame. Humor saves me. I appreciate Mark Twain and Carol Burnett’s comments on disfunctional families. I hold to Carl Rogers’ and Fred Rogers’ concept that anger is really love unmet. I can’t replenish, or correct the past. I am NOT to blame. I refuse to be the poster child for Shame. Nor will I be the Mosted WANTED target. So I get out of the way. I avoid alot of functions that are not “required.”
    Every day is a struggle, a way that I am proudest when I win. It is as little like carving a notch on the doorstop “Saints – 60 Lions (Liers) 49. So take a little courage.
    I’ve come to sweet place of acceptance that what is …JUST IS. Somethings will have to be resolved OVER THERE in a Divine Family Council. HE will have to be the mediator.
    I hold to the Irish Blessing:
    “Lord: May those who love us, love us. And those that don’t love us, May God turn their hearts. And if He doesn’t turn their hearts, May He turn their ankles, so we’ll know them by their limping.”
    Don’t beat yourself up, it only gets you down.
    Don’t let them win. Don’t lower yourself to their level.

    Have a gentle day in His WAY which is the only way.
    Betty Butler

    Comment by Betty Butler — November 7, 2008 @ 6:56 pm | Reply

  5. As my adopted cousins learned to say at an early age when taunted by their classmates about being adopted – “Your parents had to take you, my parents CHOSE me!” Same with family and friends. You can be stuck with family, you choose friends. Rejection always hurts but it sounds as if you can move on and that’s a good thing. It’s tougher to trip when you are looking forward.

    Comment by Ava Betz — November 7, 2008 @ 7:02 pm | Reply

  6. I can never understand it when I hear of feuds between members of a family when they don’t speak to each other for years. They are missing out on a lot.

    Morgan Mandel

    Comment by Morgan Mandel — November 8, 2008 @ 4:53 am | Reply

  7. Very well thought out-I’d like to add though that LIKING a person is so much beter than love–I love my biological family, but I don’t LIKE most of them–and that makes the difference of who you trust and want o spend time with,

    Comment by Joyce A. Anthony — November 8, 2008 @ 6:53 am | Reply

  8. Very well put, Ron.

    Family is so far beyond blood it’s not even funny. It’s far beyond legal definitions. It’s somewhere in our hearts. Just as we cannot fully explain *why* we love someone, so can we not fully explain *why* those we feel closest to are family. It’s one of those things I find hard to articulate but know within my own heart and soul that it is so.

    Thank you for the food for thought. 🙂

    – Todd

    P.S. I *know* it’s just an oversight but I don’t see my blog (toddmacy.wordpress.com) in your blogroll. 😉

    Comment by toddmacy — November 8, 2008 @ 7:15 am | Reply

  9. Very lovely, the article, and how it brings out so much emotion from those of us who have read it. Thanks Ron.

    Comment by Tanya — November 8, 2008 @ 7:18 am | Reply

  10. I couldn’t agree with you more Ron. Families are difficult. I, like you, love but don’t like most of my family. One of the big problems for me has always been that I’m the onlyone in my family who is upfront and honest. I don’t trust any of them anymore. They have caused me more pain and suffering than good over the years, but it has meant I know what I want my own family to be and what’s important to me. I will make sure my son never feels the way they made me feel.

    Thank you for sharing this. You’d be surprised at how many of us there are out there.


    Comment by Jo Linsdell — November 8, 2008 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

  11. I can totally agree with your last sentence. My family has been so divided over the years, basically on my moms side, that I can remember her saying that family members wouldn’t talk to other family members on her mom’s side. Most of it came from greed, when the parents died. I don’t remember my dad ever telling about division on his side of the family. I actually think that, yes, they had their differences, but they stood with one another. I also believe that the word love was unspoken on my dad’s side. He never told me he loved me, unless I said it first. But maybe that is when actions speak louder the the word. Show your love and stand by one another instead of drawing the line. I am like my mother, or the curse has followed through my generation. My sister and I are divided as she doesn’t want to know anything about our Mother, as she is too busy accusing me of Daddy’s death.
    If this is a generational curse, then I draw the line in the sand and declare that it will not come between my kids, or be passed on.


    Comment by Terre — November 8, 2008 @ 8:46 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: