Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • October-November 2022 • Circulation 5000

Family: Reactions to Actions

I have three cousins thousands of miles away. They are either great people or striving to be. My immediate family, my parents, were flawed to a high degree but I am grateful that I learned to be strong through adversity because of their weakness.

So, what do I know about family? The family of my next door neighbour and bestie has adopted me, and the people who help me out with the work around my house refer to to themselves as having been adopted. Those were adult choices – as children, our family is not chosen but assigned.

No matter how you look at it, people for whom family is a simple thing are few and far between. Some families nurture and support; lucky are the people in those environments. But also, only family has the power to hurt us so deeply. Even the best families make mistakes. In our growing years we are most vulnerable to be wounded by careless words and actions from those upon whom we are dependent. Wounds delivered unto our souls when we are most tender tend to stay the longest and sometimes fester.

Those of us who are truly blessed (or delusional, as I am) can see that the hurts committed on us as children can mold us into stronger people. Most humans I’ve met though still live with the wounds of their childhood. A dear friend told me he had a “perfect family,” and I knew that he meant that the strife he suffered made him the strong man he turned out to be.

Often, people compulsively recreate their early difficult relationships with the hope that “this time” things will work out better. How many of your friends keep getting involved with the same type of difficult personality? I’ve done it. I’ve fallen in love with a man who was as distant and unavailable as my mother. Most of us do it subconsciously to try to heal childhood hurts by finding a mate who resembles our “difficult” parent.

In a different vein I see perfectly mature adults revert to childish rebellion when dealing with sibling rivalry. A strong logical man can be reduced to whining when he perceives his mother favours his brother. I don’t know how we’re supposed to put these childhood hurts aside and live in a conscientious way; to make choices based on the reality of this moment and not of the past. Rather than be compulsively driven to fix old hurts, how can we repeatedly make decisions based on what is constructive and good for us? How many times have we reacted with anger at someone in a way that is out of proportion to the offending behaviour, only to realize that this person did the same misdeed to us that injured us in our youth?

I know some people out there will have no idea what I’m talking about. You are truly blessed if that’s the case. I hope you pass your blessings on. But if you can relate to what I’m saying: can we both try to be more conscientious about our actions and reactions to the world?

Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.

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