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Ellé Bell Café

A Coffee & Gift Shop

111 W. Main St., Union SC




Posted on July 19, 2015 at 8:00 PM

Earlier this week a friend of mine created a startling conversation twister on me. Here is the scenario: Your ex-husband of years and years ago comes to you and says,” I have come back to be with you, I am a changed person.” And he really may, he just may finally be absolutely everything you have ever dreamed. What do you do?

I said, “Oh my, heck no…what ugh! WHAT?!NO!!”

(But, come on, baby… that thing you hated- that I did all the time – I never do that anymore!! You are deserving of nothing less than royal treatment for as long as you hold the breath of life in your body my queen, or it is I who will be a bonded slave to you for life if it isn’t so! I plead with you, please! {I do speak so dramatically in my head})

I am still reeling, “Unthinkable! Ha!”

So what is the difference between that “I am so done with you” attitude between your ex-husband and a family member who has hurt you over and over but you keep letting them in because you are all “family”? If they hurt you, betray your trust, spread lies, or even gossip about you (any one or all of the qualities you would never want in someone close to you) why would you allow even one person into your life like that “because we share DNA”? Heck no, she says.

My initial response is because family is family. Family is never any of those terrible things to each other. Family is the few that remain when the world turns their back on you. Family means we love and accept each other for our differences and shortcomings because THAT is WHAT family is.

Or does it? Funny thing about a family. It can be a family. Any family. A whole family, generations of people all spread out sharing DNA. Seriously, acres of green fields with like kids running and playing –as many as the grains of sand on a beach. Or, it can not be that. It can be two men, or women, who love and respect each other- to vow for life that they will honor and cherish each other …and then they actually do. And hey, they want the experience of fatherhood and decide to adopt. So they get a child, let’s make it interesting and say they are an interracial male couple and adopt a baby from China. There. Nothing biblically or genetically “natural” about them as an example… But, now they have a get up on zero sleep and feed the baby schedule, juggling home and work life all the while wiping baby formula throw-up off their suit tie on the way to the office every morning. Day in and day out this is their life -grueling marathon SpongeBob cartoons, taxi-ing for baton lessons, sports, recitals…. So this is a family. Right? No, this is ALSO a family. Family is the generations of kin folks that line the hills like trees in the mountains-- or can be fractured off pieces of people put back together whole by the person who completes you, and then grow your family to extend your life, legacy and love along the way. I felt that way about the folks in my church in Wisconsin, we were all closer than being related. Maybe it is all and none of that… maybe family is intimacy and trust. Family is people in your life which you put all your love, time, creativity and passion into- someone who inspires your hopes and dreams- THAT is your family.

So maybe my wise friend is right. Maybe you can cut off people who share your DNA and develop relationships, close friend, emotional and spiritual relationships, and THEY become your family.

This mind shift caused me to ponder for days and days. I constantly thought of these things. I was feeling this way because in a large part I feel deeply impacted for long periods of time after I interact with certain people and I couldn’t help but wonder, “Would I allow this if I had a choice?“ Wait. Why don’t I have a choice? I don’t have a choice who I allow in my life?

Meanwhile, to which I had no idea, the destructive and negative nature of some of my deep rooted, close DNA family relationships I happened to be questioning were already dissolving themselves. I had no idea.

In my world family relationships don’t just mysteriously and magically dissolve. It would take a ton of explosives and maybe the end of either my life or the end of the world I guess. That’s what I know. That’s what I believe. I don’t care if any of my family members told me something that goes against my beliefs, I do not hold them in a place of judgement. I may not believe some of the same things they do but hey, so what!? I am vegan, my husband carnivore! We are family. The only way families of such growing and diverse people can get along harmoniously, is to reserve judgement for God and love and accept one another unconditionally. Toss in a bit of patience, openness, honesty, humor, sometimes wine. Sometimes a lot of wine. But year after year it is obvious that some enjoy this less and less. There are people who cannot openly love, who cannot listen, or who don’t want to hear. Who say such hateful things to each other, about people they see on the street… but we tromp through because that’s so-and-so, the family monster… But hey, DNA, right?

Wow. Maybe***** I think no***** Maybe it is the most awful hurt to feel disowned by the people who are never supposed to stop believing in you, but the ones who do love you and believe in you will heal those wounds. And then THEY become your family.

Within the next few days, it becomes evident I have been at least mildly disowned. By loving members of my own DNA pool, the never-leave-your-side, never give up on you family.

I guess turnabout is fair play. I just realized that I did not like the negativity and emotional draining on me as a person that I feel when I am with that person. I was thinking it, they actually cut me off. Maybe it is because I might not be the caliber of person that they want in their lives. So be it. I am me. I am not perfect, but I am happy. I am me. I am proud to be it and I will not be ashamed of me. I am a person who feels the heated intensity of passion like skin to a blue flame, and I feel hurt as deep as the deepest blade plunged up between my shoulder blades right through my ribs to completely pierce my beating heart.

DNA or not, my family consists of those who do not spit hate into the world of others.

My family is open, addressing openly any issues… talking to the person directly, first. My family knows each other’s hearts and intentions and ALWAYS sees a person for who they are. Confusion and questions are directly asked, answers occur, feelings are discussed and we move on. There is not a “deal breaker” in “family”. But for some there is. (When that happens, they are not your family anymore because they have changed how they feel about you and see…? They never even asked you anything. They just left calls unanswered. Voicemail ignored. Texts are abrupt. Nobody wants to say anything. But talk about it behind my back.

You have now just become the rest of the world. Congratulations. Whirring colors blindly whipping by as you speed off to bring hate, drama or gossip to whatever event you are attending today. Goodbye. I didn’t get a formal goodbye. A text. Nothing. Just a bunch of blocked folks on FB and lots of questions. Okay. If that’s how you do it that is just peachy with me. I guess.

I have to process all of it. I was ready for it (because my friend just had to ask the question- and I never knew such a thought was in existence ...but had then pondered it to its fullest extent both positive and negatively) but now that it has happened how do I feel? I feel uncomfortable. And sad. I love them. I never imagined a world in which we would not be celebrating and supporting each other. Taking photos of each other doing silly things and reminiscing over a fire. Or gathering to sit under trees in the summertime in lawn chairs and watch as the next generation runs and plays together. But, now I guess that thought is over. I am sad. Deeply saddened. But at the same time, I am a little bit okay with it. No more blades slicing deep through the ribs, no more choking on the truth about how I feel. I will always love a part of and miss that person. Truly, I do not know who you are anymore. Well, I take that back- I do. I have seen it all along, but you see I am different than you. I am wired for love, peace, openness, harmony, understanding, and tolerance. Better things. The negative and hurtfulness you perpetuate are palpable, and I do not like how it feels. I learned in family counseling when I was very young, that I was the one who bridged each strained relationship until it was mended. The peacekeeper. That’s a lot of work over a lot of time. So much time.

As with any wound of significance, this is the pain that comes with debridement. But in this pain, just as it always does, comes a great and healing lesson. There is the obvious lesson of: it is only those who have unabashedly captivated the very beat of your heart that may be regarded as family, and nothing less.

The important lesson here is I am found to be in favor of my Father, the King. He planted the seed of thought and helped me process all of this before it ever came to pass so that when it did I would not be so unexpectedly blindsided. What can I say, I learned what a family is from Him!

My family certainly does not consist of anyone who would reserve judgement against me, and speak despicably about me OR partake in listening and pondering the accusation without first questioning the validity of the statement. Second (here’s the kicker) they love me enough to ask me questions in order to seek resolution and clarity for the betterment of us as people, for the healing of the relationship and for our lives to resume to their previous, harmonious state.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Romans 2:1

So back to the beginning…

So what is the difference between that “I am so done with you” attitude between your ex-husband and a family member? If they hurt you, betray your trust, steal, lie, harass, spread lies, gossip about you- any one or all of the qualities you would never want in a friend- why would you allow even one person into your life like that “because we share DNA”?

So in a final answer to my friends question…after pondering through this question and battling the demons that came with it, it is to my great surprise that I say my gut reaction was right and I was completely wrong at the same time. Not all people that share your DNA are family, because true family would never do terrible things to one another. Abandoning one another, excluding people from communication, talking in poor regard about someone to one another. Family wouldn’t partake. Family would never believe it. Family puts the integrity and value of that interpersonal relationship higher than whatever is on the table. Family would seek truth, acceptance, and resolution in love.

This paper is the actual metamorphosis of my definition of family.

I am devoted to my family. What I wasn’t aware of a week ago when my friend first brought up the subject, was that my family was already much, much smaller than I thought it was.

But you know what, I am okay with that.


Categories: Pearls of Wisdom

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