What is Family?
Family is a key to figuring out who you are. If your struggling that is. Like me. Professionals will argue nature versus nurture. I think it’s both. Genetics and experience make up a person. Who is your family? What are your stories? Your memories? They are the keys to your world view. Your perception. Your reality.
Think about what family is to you. There’s no right or wrong answer. I believe family is, yes, a genetic link and with that your physically connected whether you like it or not. I also believe with physical family you have a bit of responsibility there. But that’s just me. Of course responsibility, at least with me, goes out the window if there’s some kind of extreme issue like your brother tried to sacrifice your first born or your sister stole your identity and money and ran off with the circus. I would cut that shit off. But, I would still take the time to find out why and how that issue came to be just in case I may get the genetic urge to run off with the circus.
Then there are just people who come into your life for whatever reason and 5, 10, 15 years later you realize they have become family too. Family are people who try to be there for all the important events. People who take all of you. They take the good with the bad. And some would even accept the really bad. There’s an unbroken connection even if you haven’t seen them for years. It’s knowing a person inside and out.
So let me introduce you to the Fam. The six adults in our house. I’m going to refer to them by how they are related to Me, the blog author, except for my oldest son whom I call Shaman. They are my Mom, my Brother, my Neice, my Oldest Son (Shaman), and my Youngest son.
Mom has a country girl toughness. A make do with what you have kind of spirit. Raised in a barn with seven other siblings and not a pretty rehabbed with lots of money barn. A real barn, an outhouse, no running water and a spring house. Her toughness got us through some hard times when I was young. When she got older I think she saw fit to pass the torch to one of her kids. I guess that would mean me, her only daughter. Girls make good glue to hold things together. Now Mom is a lover of all things sad and depressing. The bearer of bad news. Always on the lookout for a good tragedy or someone done somebody wrong story. If there isn’t anything on the news there’s always President Trump. People like mom say they hate Trump but they actually love him. They love to hate him. He provides a good bitch session when there’s nothing else. But of course there’s always something else. From what needs fixing in our house to did you hear who went to the hospital yesterday. Refusing to have friends, the bitch session must always be with one of us. Usually my brother. If your flying too high from a fantastic day Mom is always ready to help talk you down. I think she needs the tales of woe so she can release the pain and tears locked up inside long ago.
Mom is a 4′ 11″ soft spoken 73 year old. Seemingly fragile from all that she’s been through but don’t be fooled. My father always used to say he was married to a saint, and not in a good way. Now I understand. Smoothing things over and taking responsibilities and consequences away from you is her specialty. Her compassion and help for people who actually need it is awesome but If I’m not careful she’ll do so much for me I’ll find myself disabled and wallowing in a puddle of guilt on the floor. Or would that be a puddle of glue? Then I’ll become another sad story for her to tell. There’s no letting down my guard around Mom.
Brother is a lot younger than me. He’s in his 30’s. I was on my own by the time he was born. I told him once he’s the sister I never had. I had 4 brothers. One has since passed. Brother lived with me once before around 4 or 5 years ago during a difficult time in my life. A different kind of difficult. Divorce. Not having really any close friends at the time he was the sister that I could talk to about anything. Crazy was lurking in the shadows then too. Crazy came bearing gifts of alcohol and promiscuity.
Brother is a soft spoken Gay with a good although strange sense of humor. Brother is lonely. Brother is always there for anyone who needs him. Especially Mom. I sometimes feel bad for him that she uses him for her companionship. Brother had so many dreams. Now I don’t hear about them anymore. He’s either the most humble person I’ve ever known or his self esteem is at zero. Shaman Son keeps a really good eye on Brother. Brother used to play practical jokes on people and tricked Shaman Son into selling his soul to him some years ago. Brother even had a contract for Shaman Son to sign. Brother has since confessed it was a joke and gave Shaman Son the contract including the ones that other people signed. Shaman Son still believes. Believes that Brother is trying to hurt him in a lot of ways. Brother stays in his room most of the time now. He’s done college. He says college was a waste of time and a rip off. This is coming from someone with a high IQ. Graduated top of his class. Although he would argue that he’s not intelligent. When Brother denies obvious things about himself this makes Shaman Son more paranoid about him. Now Brother knits while hiding in his room on the third floor. He knits beautifully. Probably because he has a lot of time on his hands. At least when he’s not keeping Mom company.
Not wanting to upset Shaman Son, Brother will wait a long time to come downstairs for ANYTHING. Deciding between getting a caffeine headache or getting some coffee, getting a headache is better than dealing with Crazy. What he doesn’t realize is Crazy is up there with him too. Making him decide between things he shouldn’t have to decide between. Like thirst, hunger, or boredom. When the time comes for him to have to make the hesitant trek down the stairs I’m sure the dialog in his mind goes something like this….Should I just bound down the stairs as if nothing is wrong? Should I tiptoe as quietly as I can? Should I look up or down when I reach the bottom? I’ll just look at my phone the whole time. Should I actually look at something on my phone or just pretend? At the bottom of the first flight of stairs he pauses for a second to listen for clues telling him now is not a good time to go on. But hearing nothing he proceeds cautiously to the second flight of stairs. Upon reaching the last few steps Brother is at first relieved Shaman is not around so feeling a little more relaxed he heads to the kitchen. Rounding the corner Brother’s fight or flight kicks in. Oh shit, Shaman is in the kitchen! Should I casually turn around and go back upstairs? Or stand my ground and do what I came down to do? Losing his appetite Brother heads back up the stairs thinking at least Shaman didn’t wave his hands at me grunting and growling voodoo this time. I try to remind Brother to keep a chin up and look for the positives. I dont know what else to do.
I’m sure Brother feels better when he goes to work even though he hates his job.
Niece became old enough to drink a year ago. Although she says she never wants to drink. There’s a lot of alcoholism in this family. She never swears either. Even tiny little swear words. Once Brother tricked her into saying a swear word in another language. She started crying when she found out. She was 18 or 19 at the time. As a college student and employee without a drivers license she has to rely on Mom to take her everywhere, and also Brother. Niece is one of those big and beautiful women. She has a great confidence mask but she also shows her vulnerability. She’s strong with a touch of softness. She uses her intelligence for strength. Sometimes it seems like she could break easily given the push. She has long dark curly hair and pale white skin. The dark red lipstick she sometimes wears accentuates her sarcasm and Gothic intellectualism.
Niece also stays in her room on the third floor mostly for the same reasons as Brother. Shaman Son doesn’t seem to think Niece is as diabolical as Brother but he still needs to keep an eye on her because Niece and Brother are very close. College homework keeps Niece busy. She also crochets beautiful things. So some days Niece, Brother, and Mother sit up there on the third floor and have a crafting time together or watch funny movies to remind them to laugh.
My Eldest Son
Shaman is average height and in good shape with dark blond shoulder length hair. He has hazel eyes that sometimes sparkle and sometimes are very dull like someone turned off his light. I refer to my eldest son as Shaman because I think he may be here on Earth to go through the difficult pilgrimage of becoming a spiritual guide of sorts. To interpret what he describes, Shaman is a manifestation culminating from generations of family shit. Here to release all the negative inflamed toxic energy. The cover ups, don’t talk abouts, undealt with tribulations. A genetic pimple if you will. Except he’s a lot nicer to look at.
Turning whisperings into screams for everyone to hear. He’s not afraid to say what he thinks needs to be said especially when it comes to other peoples shame, embarrassments, vulnerabilities. Of course, I will add, the journey to becoming a spiritual guide or Shaman involves digging out and exposing your own shit as well and this has been a bit of a barrier for him.
Being very intelligent and interested for years in all things of spirit he has a hard time finding peers his own age. Even peers that are older. Shaman is 25. At the age of 16 he had an encounter with what he describes as an alien. He’s had anxiety since middle school. He can’t work now due to anxiety. And of course there’s the issue of thinking Brother and Niece are trying to hurt him. I think he has a hard time trusting people outside these walls as well. He does his best to keep busy but I have to stand by and watch as Crazy wraps him up in a loneliness shroud which is slowly suffocating him. I’ve spent and will continue to spend a lot of time learning about “The System” that’s supposed to help him but most days all I can do is accept things and pray he finds his way.
Shaman has hitchhiked all over the U.S. Always returning home due to the law, anxiety, or drugs with stories of amazing things and very interesting people. Asking Ayahuasca, mushrooms, and other various drugs for help in finding his soul that Brother took has not helped. He has spent time in jail, rehabs, and psych hospitals. Shaman has been the biggest help in me finding my Warriors mask. Shaman doesn’t think he needs help. This makes dealing with “The System” even harder.
Shaman has a beautiful heart. He cares almost too much. I tell him he needs to toughen up. I also think he needs to come down to earth. I should take my own advice. Writing, dancing, walking, meditating for hours, and drawing. These are the things he finds helpful and enjoyable. Medication and therapy don’t seem to help. They don’t know how deal with a person on a Shamanic journey. Everyone goes into the sameness box. Just like they tried to do at school. Shaman left school after 5th grade to be homeschooled. He tried to go back to high school like his little brother did but to no avail. Boxes are not a good fit for Shamans in training.
Life in a small town makes it easy to spot a Shaman. All the police know him. The only cops that mess with Shaman are the new ones. They see him dancing in the street and don’t understand that he’s not a public drunk. He’s simply doing energy work for the good of the town. We’ve been here for over 20 years and neighbors have come and gone. Most people really like Shaman because of his big beautiful heart. Our house is the colorful one with weird stuff on the front porch. Antique dolls, rusty old children’s chairs, a collection of found bones and old gnarled wood. And there’s always something that needs to be fixed. Peeling paint or a rotted floor board. My youngest son once said, “Oh we’re THAT house on the block.” My youngest son has a great sense of humor.
My Youngest Son
I’m going to refer to my youngest son as simply Youngest. He is average height and athletic with dark brown hair cut to the latest style. Youngest has a bright super friendly smile that you can easily talk to. Youngest is 2 years younger than Shaman, although he was more like the older brother. Shaman and Youngest got along pretty good growing up. Youngest was the joker in the family. Always trying to lighten things up and make us smile. With a sampling of anxiety as well he decided to be homeschooled through middle school like the rest of my kids. Youngest had a best friend connection on the outside. Crazy saw Youngest had protection from the outside so it left him alone. Hearing the call of the institution, he listened and went back to school in 9th grade. It wasn’t easy for him but his best friend connection was there to help.
I used to call Youngest Marilyn. He was the odd ball in a Munster Family. Its a tv show from the 60’s. Youngest did his best to be “normal”. He took all the appealing things from life with Crazy and ran with it. Youngest likes to keep moving. Discovering, experimenting, learning the ways of a Rumpelstiltskin Creator which is taking something ordinary and making it better or new. This applies to a situation or a thing. As our entertainer, he juggles a little, does card tricks and throwing cards a little, played a little banjo, draws, writes, does handstands everywhere, and wants to set the world record for riding a bike with no hands the longest. He juggles while riding a bike too. Always ready with a smile Youngest does not like confrontation. If the smiles aren’t enough he becomes a master escape artist. Escaping from serious words required. Escaping the weight of heavy dark emotional energy that Crazy will cast upon us.
After high school Youngest went on to college. Eventually, came the Philosophy class that opened his eyes. Rethinking society and the absurd way people live without questioning, he quit college. Now he sees with a new common sense. A minimalist scientific metaphysics kind of common sense. He has a new take on sociology and is interested in how people think. Empathic and sagacious, he knows when to ask questions and what to say when he must. Youngest would always be in the middle of great discussions over coffee we used to have with various family members in the house . Discussions about life, philosophy, science, religion, metaphysics, health, and politics. Because Crazy has placed a veil of uncertainty between everyone we don’t do that much anymore. Youngest may not admit it but he will always think outside the box because life with Crazy will do that to you.
Me (The Blog Author)
I’ve never lived alone. I’m in my 50’s. When I was 18 I left my alcoholic family to fight it out and went to live with my alcoholic boyfriend. Crazy makes you run toward the same things your running away from. Then come the parties in the trailer park, pregnancy, then marriage. Finally we moved to a bigger house and away from the parties. But Crazy kept bringing me truths to make me wake the fuck up. My kids grew up and made memories, perceptions, and realities through it all. Some good and some not so good. Crazy brings denial but also truth, eventually. At least for me. I finally listened. Now I’m divorced and housing various family members in a small old revitalized river town. In a three story brick Victorian row home where porches were once used as a means for socializing and getting the latest gossip. We’re all dealing with some sort of denial and truth in our own way. Quiet space is tough for me to find here.
When I was little I used to go out on the roof of our house at night and look up at the sky wondering when the ship that forgot me would come back. Preferring to be alone and never feeling like part of the human race, I lived in an imaginary world and still do.
I could never force my kids to go into the society box. I have a hard time with the box myself. Crazy has a way of keeping you outside. Although I sometimes wonder who is more sane? The ones in the box or the ones outside it? Shaman and I are very similar. It’s hard to live in a fast paced concrete, wired world. Our birthdays are two days apart. Shaman and I are both in space struggling to keep our feet on the ground.
Through the years I found ways to cope and believe in who I am even if it didn’t fit with “normal societal standards”. The trick is stop trying to be something your not. It sounds simple but I know it’s not. I still have to wear masks to assimilate and play the game sometimes.
Am I projecting in the above descriptions? Probably so. There’s a lot to be said for projection when it comes to figuring out who you are.