This past weekend was the start of what will be our end of summer/enter into fall super travelling schedule. You see, the unfortunate side of making budgets and priorities, is that when you have established a travel budget, you end up using it J We were in Los Angeles for the wedding of one of the groomsmen that was in our wedding, and were happy to get the invite. It was also a great opportunity to catch up with family, as the groomsman that exchanged nuptials is the brother of my sister-in-law. It is events like these, when together with family, that I’m reminded that one of my favorite roles in this world, and that’s being an uncle. I loved hearing and sharing with my niece and oldest nephew about their lives. My nephew recently graduated from college and my niece is just about to start her second year in college. So I am closer in age to them than their parents. But having a two way dialogue in which we shared our lives with each other, it just about made my year and left me wanting more and more moments like the ones we had over the weekend. Even now I am getting a little teary eyed just thinking that my nephew opened up to me, and sought my advice, counsel and comfort. I suppose it validated that if I want relationships with family, that making the effort is enough.
My parents, brothers and sister on the other hand, well that’s a different chapter of the same book. There were a few opportunities that my parents could have joined in on visits with other family members, but because of their biases on whom it is acceptable to be around, chose not to join us on any of the get-togethers we embarked on over the weekend. It was disappointing to hear them say no to every invitation we threw to my parents, and the only time we spent together was the short time in the evenings (my wife and I stayed at their home), if they were awake. This time, unlike times in the past, I did not listen to my father with an empathetic ear as he explained why he was upset this time at my brother and sister, or what about his siblings upset him the most. This time I simply listened, let him knew that I heard what he had to say and did not participate in his justification for isolation. He may despise all family outside of his inner circle, but that is not the lifestyle I am living. He is the paradigm of what I never want to be. I am aware that life will always happen, and people, whether you trust them or not, will do things intentionally and unintentionally to irritate you, but at the end of the day I would rather be the uncle I was this weekend, than the son of a man that pushes just about everyone out of his life.
I wish the story were that cut and dry with my brothers and sister. Since reading “Boundaries” I have adopted a new, relationship focused approach to the people in my life, and those that I want to be in it. It is without question a work in progress. With my oldest brother and sister, I have the obstacle of a 20 year age gap in which, it is difficult to break down walls into adult conversation. With the other brother, well, let’s just say that we have not spoken more than a few words to each other over the last 10 years and I have a lot of work to do to establish healthy boundaries. As reluctant as I can be on these issues, like staring at a mountain of debt before the baby steps, I know the climb will be hard and rigorous, but I do know that having healthy relationships is a good thing in my life. Even if things don’t pan out the way I’d like them to be, at least they will be real and I will be better for it.