Brushing off the dust of the past

September 26, 2017

A big sigh.

I’m sitting here thinking about how difficult it would be to watch a new generation fall victim to my family’s dysfunctions.


The word is a difficult one for me, as I have two siblings and neither have been in my life for the better part of the last decade.

It wasn’t my choice. But maybe it wasn’t theirs, either, because the act of breaking relations with family is a longtime tradition among us. Maybe it’s genetic. Or maybe it’s learned behavior.  Because it and the family’s right wing politics are two things I never inherited.

But my siblings did.

Or maybe, it’s all a lesson. That’s how I think of it. A lesson.

There is a tradition in my family to hold on to hurts and resentments, to withhold forgiveness, to be jealous in the extreme. It’s a poison that my siblings keep ingesting over and over. When you see it in action, it’s clear that they can’t be very happy. And yet, the behavior continues. They can’t seem to be able to stop.

Of course, there’s a bigger reason. A spiritual reason. This was part of the plan.  But still: I’m glad there’s not much of a next generation to be hurt by it. But there is some. And that’s what hurts me.

 I paid my dues and worked the lesson. I did my years of therapy long ago. I’ve had so much life experience and done so much discussion–and so much of my own thinking– that I finally got perspective on the family.

The new generation is just beginning.  They start out pure, seeing only the best, feeling only the love. But people are human and can only put on a facade for so long. Eventually, their true selves leak out, becoming clearer and clearer until there’s no denying who they are.  

And that is a pretty hard thing for a young person to face. A young person who might still think the world is fair. That love will always prevail.

 Well, the truth is that love always DOES prevail. It prevails in the kind of people we choose to surround ourselves with. It even prevails in the compassion with which we can (in time) view these damaged family members. And in the bigger picture that we can grasp if we do the work.

So I sit, pondering the inescapable realities of our family. But also appreciating the help I got over the years in freeing myself of the dust of the past.  

I breathe deeply of the fresh air and trust that one day, maybe even tomorrow, the next generation will be able to do the same.

And of course, I focus on the lesson, because I know what it is.

I’d love your thoughts on family dynamics. And of course, a reminder that A Healing Spirit is just a click away, with all sorts of support for those tough times in life.





27 comments on “Brushing off the dust of the past
  1. Roberta says:

    Ah yes. Family. I learned a long time ago that family is not necessarily the one you were born into but rather the people you love and who love you back. Some families have an expiration date.

  2. robin rue says:

    Families can be weird sometimes. And sometimes it’s friends that become family that are more family than the family you were born into….

  3. I love this. The only thing we can do with our past familial dysfunction is to learn from it and not repeat the mistakes made in the past. I am cognizant of that everyday.

  4. Bill Sweeney says:

    The only thing we can do is make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes that were made when we were growing up. It’s important to learn from the past rather than letting it consume us.

  5. Shari E says:

    Families are tough. Sometimes they bring out the worst in us. The only thing we can do is try to surround ourselves with people who bring out our best.

  6. Renee says:

    I get is hard…but the people who are there for you when you need them are your “family”…I am so lucky to have a great one even though we were not born into the same one…

  7. Holly says:

    I think it’s important to recognize when family dynamics are not healthy. Sometimes it’s best to move on and not let yourself get dragged down.

  8. Family dynamics are hard. But if there’s a constant break down it’s time to look at the source. For me once I got over myself I was able to reconnect with a sibling because we realized that the mistakes were of our parents and that we could do better for the next generation by changing the habits. It’s hard, but worth it.

  9. Sapana V says:

    I believe that new generation is much more mature and they learn lessons from their elders. So, I can say the past won’t be repeated. But yes, it also depends on the person’s nature.

  10. Maureen says:

    I learned a long time ago that family will love you so deeply yet hurt you so deeply at the same time, almost without meaning to. This is true no matter your age, what a great post to have a good discussion surrounding family dynamics.

  11. Hi! Oh, I am so sorry about the pain you have felt from your family. I am very impressed that you can share your voice is such a warm, curious, and inspiring way. I know my family life has its hard moments and patterns in affect. The best I can do is offer compassion and strive to create new habits that allow thriving within my own home.

  12. Pam says:

    Family can be your biggest support or your biggest heartbreak. Unfortunately it isn’t always up to you which one it turns out to be.

  13. Liz Mays says:

    It’s definitely interesting to think about all of the life-lessons and experiences young people still have to go through. I’m still learning new things every day!

  14. I know how you feel. But family isn’t just by blood, we can build our own family with friends that never leave us. As much as I don’t want people to go through having to deal with family not talking to them anymore, I think it’s also one of the realities of life.

  15. I have a similar family dynamic. There are whole branches of family that I haven’t spoken to in years, and it is hard accept sometimes that we have let it get so bad. I fear the day that I have to explain to my sons why there are whole parts of his family missing. I hope I can teach him to forgive and move on while at the same time teaching him what is right and wrong and how to not let people take advantage of him.

  16. Shibani says:

    This is a sensitive topic for some. In our family despite how many issues we have/had we still atleast meet up, talk things through and not leave contact completely. So I would say we forgive and believe relationships are far more important than grudges.

  17. Wendy Polisi says:

    The past can be a powerful contender. Good for you on focusing on the future and moving forward.

  18. I am sorry to hear you don’t get to have your sisters in you life. Luckily my family went through some things when we were young that really bonded us for life.

  19. Annemarie LeBlanc says:

    I come from a closely knit extended family. I had so many aunts and uncles and I am not sure if we are even blood related. Sometimes it is unavoidable to have family discord, some resolved, some not. I think we must just make the best out of the situation and continue on with life. As they say, time heals all wounds.

  20. It’s never an easy situation especially when you think about the kids that are caught in between of everything. Family has a tendency to be like that. It sucks but it’s really how people act sometimes.

  21. brianne says:

    This totally resonated with me. We have family problems but i’ve learned to not let that get to me and do what makes us happy.

  22. Emily says:

    Family issues are so tough. Sometimes people just can’t be together and that’s ok!

  23. Stephanie says:

    It’s so hard when you have someone who can’t forgive. My dad’s mom was never around much when we were little even though she lived 10 minutes from us. She used to let my sister and me down a lot by not showing up when we were supposed to go out with her. My mom’s mom more than made up for it by far. But my sister never forgave her and still won’t. She sees her when necessary, but won’t get over how she treated us.

  24. We have so many different opinions about how the world should work when we are a youth. Things are never the same we actually have to face them for ourselves and see how the world really works. As sad as that is. But real love does conquer.

  25. Pooja says:

    I love your thoughts on Family dynamics. According to me, it’s something very tricky to understand and hold onto. There is just so much you cant easily let go

  26. Thena says:

    Great, powerful post. What a way with words, I did enjoy reading it.

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