I mentioned in a previous post how misunderstood I was by my family when Grady went to heaven. Before I delve into this, I need to back up and fill you in on a few things. And I need to say again that I do not know who reads my blog. I know that I have two faithful family members who read my blog, one on my side and one on Gib's side. This post is sure to stir up some controversy, whether you're a member of my family or not. Some will surely have strong opinions, either in opposition or support, of my decisions. But I stand firm that this is my blog where I share my heart. It is not intended to hurt anyone. It is my sounding board and life journal. So, here goes...
After my mom died in 2007, I was very disappointed and hurt by several in my family. The lack of words/actions, the absence of expressions of sympathy, worries about objects that belonged to my mom by extended family just days after she died, and the feelings of abandonment and loneliness sent my mind reeling and left my heart feeling very sad.
Some would say, DUH, just tell them how you feel! It's not that easy for me. When I feel that I've wronged someone, I'm the first to try to reconcile. But when I feel that someone has wronged me, it is very difficult for me to "call them on it". (I don't want this to turn into a post about reconciliation because that deserves a post of its own)
After a couple of months of pondering the whole situation, I decided to disconnect myself from my extended family. Please don't misunderstand. I do love them. I would do anything for any of them. I don't wish any harm or ill-will towards one of them. But an easy way for me to deal with this was to retreat. I didn't think it would be too hard because we don't get together very often, and I never talk to my extended family on the phone, other than my two aunts.
My mom's two sisters, my Aunt Helen and Aunt Juanita, hold a VERY special place in my heart, as do their husbands. I vowed, at that time, to attend family functions if they pertained to them and them only. Which was the case last year for two surprise birthday parties. But as far as Christmas or other times, I decided my family and I would not be present.
I was able to get by until this past Christmas. I guess because it was the third Christmas in a row that we didn't attend, it raised some questions and eyebrows. I never lied or divulged why. I simply said we would not be there. My heart was broken when I learned that my sweet Aunt Juanita broke down at the Christmas gathering because we were not there. After I learned that, I made it a point to go see her and talk to her the next day. My intention was never to hurt anyone!
In telling her about my decision after mom died, I told her that my decision was further validated after Grady went to heaven.
This is when I learned how misunderstood I was by my family when Grady died.
I made it clear that I did not want visitors at the hospital. I don't think this was too unreasonable of a request. Some honored that request, some came anyway, and some didn't know those were my wishes (the term "some" refers to family and friends). The only two people who came from my side of the family were my brother and my stepdad. And that was okay. I didn't want a parade of people in and out of my room. It was a very difficult and private time. I honestly didn't want to share it with everyone. And let's face it, I didn't want to be a part of it myself.
Fast forward a bit to when my aunts asked me if they could bring food for our family. I told them no because we had so much food we could hardly eat it all. Neither one of them are able to stand in the kitchen cooking, so I didn't see the need for them to bring food that possibly would get wasted. I didn't ask for meals. My friends coordinated them on their own, and before I knew it, we had six weeks worth of meals coming to our house, at least three times a week. This apparently hurt my aunts' feelings and made them feel that my friends were more important than them.
Stab through my heart.
I hated to hear that, and it literally made my heart hurt. But, somehow, along with the message that I didn't want visitors, went the message that I didn't want any cards, flowers, phone calls, etc. This was absolutely NOT true! I'm not sure how such information ever got passed around, and it's really not worth questioning at this point. But I never said that.
No, I was not answering the phone and didn't for about six weeks. Those who called always left messages to let me know they were thinking of me and praying for me, all the while never expecting a call back from me. I received a slew of cards from people, some whom I don't even know. And I still have every one of them. I only received flowers from two people, and I so appreciated that expression of sympathy.
A couple of people from my family sent cards anyway, and I appreciated them SO much. But the majority remained silent, never acknowledging our loss and grief, even when I saw them in person at the birthday parties (only one cousin said anything about Grady in person to me, and it touched my heart beyond belief! You can read about it here if you want). I understand that a little better now based on the information they were given. But I still wonder if that would have mattered...
This has all come full circle. I don't feel part of the family anymore. It would be really hard for me to step back into the family at this point and feel completely comfortable. And just yesterday my brother asked me if my aunt called me about the family soup day in a couple of weeks. Nope. No one has called, and I don't expect them to. Now that the truth has been revealed, I doubt that I'll ever know the goings-on of the family unless I'm told by my brother or stepdad. I'm not hurt. I see that as them respecting my wishes. Knowing that I wouldn't come anyway.
As far as I know, my relationship with my two aunts and uncles is in good standing. I've seen all of them since Christmas and there was nothing but love expressed during both visits. I plan to keep communication up with them and make it a point to visit them more often. Unfortunately, they're not getting any younger.
I consider myself a pretty good communicator, but apparently communication wasn't my strong point during and after the time Grady went to heaven. But I'm not going to be too hard on myself. I was grieving. I was heartbroken. I wasn't thinking straight. And quite honestly, I can't take responsibility for the actions, or lack thereof, of other people. I cannot, and never will, ask for sympathy from anyone about anything. That is something that comes from the heart. I am truly sorry for the pain that I caused my two aunts, and I hope they can forgive me.
That's all for today. And I think that's enough.