Family Schamily

I’m going to accidentally meet one of my family members for the first time today? That kind of makes me want to stay home!

I think, in real life, we do meet our parents and siblings over and over for the first time then we marry some of them and we form friendships with others. I think many of us fall into relationships with people very like our parents and siblings, unconsciously working out unresolved questions and relationship conundrums. In fact, I think it’s inescapable.

I’ve had male and female friends who were very like my mom; charming, insecure, competitive, manipulative and physically violent. I’ve tried to rescue people, unconscious that I was involved in a rescue, unaware of how much they were like my brother — I even tried living with one whose dependency on me and expectations that I would care for him were just like my brother’s. The important thing is that it took me THREE YEARS to figure it out. He was as adept at creating a believable false reality (con job) as my mother had been!

My wonderful French therapist said long ago (by way of explaining this) that we all look for love and we “find” it in that which makes us feel comfortable, what is familiar, known. For some people, the “familiar” (like family) is not that great.  It would be a lot more interesting if we could actually meet and form relationships with people who are NOT like people we know already. In my case, that’s proven nearly impossible.

I wrote to this prompt last year on the VERY DAY I drove away from San Diego. 🙂 I wrote about a friend who’d proved not to be, really, much of a friend. He was, in fact, one of those people with whom I’d become involved who was unavailable. That has been a common motif in my life — reaching for the person who offers me a little something but, you know, not much, similar to the little something I got from my mom and my brother. Mostly it was nothing, but on rare occasions, it was wonderful.

I think everyone sooner or later has to “get over” their family. At the same time, no one probably ever succeeds completely at that. There’s more involved than simple (ha ha ha) environment. There is genetics. One of the strangest things is how much my niece, who never really knew my mother and was not raised anywhere NEAR my family, has grown up to share many of my mom’s traits — some of the good ones, some of the bad ones.

14 thoughts on “Family Schamily

  1. It seems many people to whom we extend our hand in the hope of developing a real friendship, few (sometimes none) work out. I thought for years it was me. There must be something wrong with me. I choose the wrong people. I am unlovable, unlikable. Eventually, I’ve came to see most people don’t want what I want. They want simple, easy, relationships. Mall friendships. A little shopping, a cup of coffee. There are few deep, lasting relationships with anyone, family or otherwise in a lifetime. I’ve been lucky to have one and another that could be, were it not for geography. Maybe that’s why we hold our dogs so close. They want all of us, all the time, without restriction.

    • I have had some great friendships in my life and they have all been with people who are not like my family. I don’t think they’ve been “deep” but they’ve been lasting and meaningful. They’ve been friendships in which I could relax with people who liked me for me. I would call those friendships “simple and easy” but not superficial. I, personally, don’t see anything wrong with “mall” friendships. They have their place, too. Now that I’m in a place in which I must make all new relationships I find that all I have to give and all I want are kindness and honesty. I’m enjoying allowing and watching the connections develop. Some people I’ve known who’ve wanted my friendship were psychic vampires. As for dogs? I like dogs because they like what I like. Originally, our relationships were based on hiking (they called it hunting); they get excited over NOTHING in particular; they’re openly affectionate and fun to be around. That describes the kind of people I like, too. 🙂

    • Marilyn, I feel you. Most people don’t want real relationships, they want superficial, convenient interactions. Of I’ve also thought at one time that Im just weird for not seeing the point of such people in my life, now I realise I don’t need to have them in my life. The ones who are a good fit will show up of their own accord.
      I don’t have a dog though….

  2. I wanted to write a post based on the prompt but that would have resulted in a one word post in response to the question: “How would you get along with your family if you met them for the first time today?” The answer of course is: Badly!
    Some people can do the family thing, I interact with people based on who they, not shared genetic and I don’t like feeling obligated to be with them if I prefer not to. I have nothing against my family, I must have chosen them for a reason (even if it escapes me now), I just prefer to have them in small doses.

  3. Been there and done that. I hear you loud and clear.

    A close friend is very rare indeed. I have friends in my old age but they are not what I call really close for I simply don’t divulge all that is on my mind. I had one close friend in my life time but she moved to Calif. after her marriage and now we really have not much in common other than our age.

    • Friendships change, I think, as people change. I recently “broke up” with a woman I’ve been friends with for 30 years. She didn’t change; I did. The person I am now cannot stand her at all. I know who I was 30 years ago and how I’m NOT that person now. It was a very hard thing to confront her with this fact; I would have avoided it had I been allowed to. Sometimes, I think, we need to be perceptive enough to recognize when a friendship has ended and give each other some grace in those moments, too.

      • I agree with you totally. The same thing happens in marriages as well. If only one person changes for the better and the other one does not then the marriage becomes unstable and unhappy. Same thing for friendships. I understand completely.

    • P.S. and since our friendship was made before I had any understanding of myself and the reasons I have for making connections with people (not all good reasons) she, of course, resorted to all kinds of “mom”like tactics to “keep” me. These life lessons are SUCH a pain!!!

  4. To answer the question I probably wouldn’t get on with my family if I just met them today, but I didn’t, I know them very well and constantly try to find new ways to “get on with” ( love ) them.
    See my blog at:

    • I wouldn’t get on with my family, either, except maybe my dad. If I saw my mom or brother on the street, it would be like seeing any other drunk. 🙂

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