As we head into the end of the year holiday season, it’s hard not to think about family.
I have a fairly large family on both my mother’s and father’s side, but I’ve always felt disconnected from my family–for geographic and age-related reasons. There is a 15-year age difference between me and my sister, so most of our primary cousins are her age–and far more familiar with her than me.
I mention all this to address a recent prompt on the BlogHer site, to discuss a trauma you may have experienced. The greatest pain that I have experienced in my life is from isolation. But as I grow older, I realize that any feelings of isolation I still have are ones I have grown, fed, cultivated, and pruned to make sure they fit the victim story I have clung to for some time.
I grew up with few friends–due to shyness and overprotective parents. This isolated me. My family did not seek to keep in touch with some parts of the family as much as others. This created more isolation for me. I was at a loss, during school, as to how to make and keep friends. More isolation. (I have friends, but they tend to be outgoing people who have done the lion’s share of developing the friendship, because it enabled me to trust their interest in me.)
My life has had many spots of loneliness. These are the circumstances through which food became a friend, my closest friend for a long time. As I have been re-booting my relationship with food, the empty spaces in my life have become much more obvious to me.
A recent family tragedy has helped me to begin to reconnect with some of my family members who I have not seen in years–or ever. The death of my aunt, which hit me and my many cousins quite hard, has brought me in touch with some in my age range who want to stick together. This is an exciting, welcome event in my life, to get to know these first and second cousins and their children, to have more near and dear people to joke with on Facebook, more gatherings to attend, more faces in the world that I can gaze upon and find something familiar and friendly. It’s just what the doctor ordered.
I have been thinking about family a lot lately, as my son prepares to go to school, and I approach another tragedy in December–the death of my father, 10 years ago this year. Other things have taken precedence in my life over family, but as time goes on, I come to realize it’s family who should have the front row in my mind and my heart. I don’t need to seek out comfort in a chocolate bar or a Popeye’s meal; I can find it in the smile of a face that vaguely looks like mine.