09 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 9th

Today, I am thankful for my family.

My family is always on my mind this time of year. Friday is the anniversary of the day my mother moved out and filed for divorce, and though it's been thirteen years, I can still remember how I felt that day. Even though I've maintained relationships with both parents and see them regularly, I still struggle with the fear and anger and worthlessness that peaked in that family therapy session when Mom made the announcement.

As I've grown up and spent a lot of time working on my own issues, I've realized things about my family's issues that allow me to have relationships with them without sacrificing my own health. I know, for example, that my mother will only contact me if she wants me to do something for her. That doesn't mean that she doesn't care what's going on in my life, just that she doesn't know how to feel comfortable asking how I'm doing without making some other, more practical request at the same time.

I know that my sister, who is so much like our mother that she can't actually have a relationship with her, got all of the drive and motivation that I lack. She works hard, studies like crazy, and gets stellar grades in some seriously tough classes because she has a plan for her future, and she's not going to let anything get in her way. Our relationship is strained at times because we see the world in such different ways (her cynicism is as beneficial to her as my optimism is to me), but I know that when the chips are down, we come through for each other.

I know that my father and I will never have a loving relationship, but that doesn't stop us from trading jokes and keeping each other updated on the mundane goings-on in our lives. The abuse he suffered as a child was passed on to me, and while I know he never intended to hurt me and probably doesn't even understand that he did, that pain stands in the way of me truly accepting him as a father. Still, he's appreciative when I make his favorite meals, and he's financially supported me far beyond what most parents would consider reasonable, so I do value his presence in my life.

Despite my family's dysfunctionality, I'm thankful to have them. They've taught me a lot, even if most of it is how not to be, and I keep learning new things about myself because of them. They're nowhere near perfect, but they're mine.

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