Poppa Was a Rolling Stone (Dysfunctional Family)

0 Posted by - April 6, 2009 - Relationships, Love & Marriage

hurt-children

The other day my homegirl Shelly and I got caught up in a conversation about family. See, when I think of the people I consider my real family, the list begins and ends with my mother and my three siblings. That’s not to say I don’t consider cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. as my kin, but I don’t have as strong of a connection with those family members as I do with the woman who gave me life me and my brothers and sister. So, for me, my family consists of these four individuals.

I accredit this outlook to two things: 1) Coming from a broken home, I have no connection with my father or his side of the family, so half of my ancestral tree has been pruned out of my life. 2) My mother’s various interpersonal conflicts with different family members caused her to distance herself from them, which inadvertently alienated me from them over time as well. Aside from a few childhood cousins that I communicate with on occasion, there aren’t many kinfolk that I can actually say I have a personal relationship with and that worries me.

The heart of my conversation with Shelly was how my lack of familial bonds can affect my own relationship with my future family. How can I tell my children about their history if I don’t even know it? I have an older sister with five children that I’ve never met. We spoke for the first time a year and a half ago when I confronted my father (CLICK HERE) and although I got her contact information, I’ve only attempted to reach out to her once since then. My list of excuses include: being that she’s spent her entire life in Grenada there are cultural barriers that make fluid conversation between us difficult, my phone card didn’t work the one time I called her, and I have no idea what to say to someone that I’m related to but is basically a stranger. The reality is I’m just scared.

For the most part, I’d like to believe that my life has been fine contained within my four-person family bubble, but is it fair to my nieces and nephews, even my future children, to cut off everyone else in my bloodline? I grew up as the oldest of my mother’s children and had to carry the burden of growing up fast. How different would I have been had I had an older sister in my life to guide me or even tease me? What lessons could I teach my nieces and nephews about life if I make the effort to be a part of theirs? Do they view me as a bad uncle that cares nothing about them? How will my ideas of what family is and my own personal experiences meld with the woman who will (hopefully) become my wife one day? Will I merely follow suit and deny my own kids access to an entire side of the family tree because I was too scared to dig up my roots? These are just some of the million what ifs and I wonders that constantly run through my mind. I’ll never find any real answers until I stop asking questions and start taking action.

At the end of my conversation with Shelly, her advice for me was that I needed to connect with my family not just for my unborn children but also for myself most importantly. As fate would have it, less than 24 hours later my mother and brothers stopped by my house to catch up. In the midst of the family bonding, my cell phone rang and I saw my older sister’s name appear on the caller ID. After pleasantries and belated birthday wishes were exchanged (I didn’t call her for her birthday a few weeks ago) she got to the point of her call. My paternal grandmother, who I have never met, lost her leg due to complications from diabetes. My father had actually told me my grandmother had a blood clot or something in her leg when we last spoke in January, but I didn’t think it was that serious. Apparently I was wrong.

I had mixed emotions upon hearing the news. Of course I empathized with my grandmother’s condition, but at the same time I wasn’t emotionally distraught because, to the best of my knowledge, she’s been in Grenada her entire life and we’ve never met. Please don’t take that to mean that I’m heartless or don’t care, I just digested and processed the information as if it had happened to the cousin of an old high school friend. After sending my condolences, my sister informed me that my father wasn’t taking the news well and I should reach out to him. I thanked her for the information and tapped my brother, who has the same father as I, and asked if he wanted to talk to our older sister. He said yes and had an awkward first conversation with her before hanging up.

Afterwards my brother and I spoke about eventually taking a trip down to Grenada to meet our sister and nieces and nephews. Being 10 years apart, we’ve never really spoken much about our father or sister but it was good to see that we were on a similar page and he was open to doing that “some day.” My youngest brother, however, who has a different father, simply asked, “Why do y’all want to go down there for? You don’t even know these people.” He’s only 16 so I’ll give him a pass on that, but I looked him in the eye and replied, “Because it’s our family and to know them is to know ourselves.”

…A journey still in progress…

I’m sure I’m not alone; how has coming from a broken home affected you? How close are you with relatives outside of your immediate family? Do your parents’ issues with different relatives have an adverse affect on your relationships with them? For those that come from large families, what are some of the benefits of having that kind of built in support system? Are there people in your family that you feel you have no connection to at all?

Speak your piece…

child-tears

  • http://moesadventures.wordpress.com/ Moe

    I have a unfortunate family situation as well. My parents were never a couple just a fling in college that ended with my mother having to drop out to raise a child. My father got to go on to become a very successful man with a PhD. Yeah that goes over very smoothly with my mother. I am the oldest child for the both of them. My mom has a son. I consider the 2 of them to be my family, in the only death can tear us apart sense. My father has a son that I met once when he was 2. He just recently had a daughter, my first sister. But I am 22 and she is 7 months old. My father was very abusive towards me when I was growing up but you know he was family so I always gave him chance after chance to be a part of my life. Until now because he is refusing to let me see my sister. It tears me apart because family/blood relatives are important to me because I am a part of that legacy and like you mentioned I think it would be of significance to my future children to know all these people. I struggle with people on my dads side because it is hard to keep in touch with them without keeping in touch with him. if he and I are not speaking neither are me and people ion his side of the family. My moms side is kinda close but not really. My dads family are extremely close and I am an outsider. I feel it every time I am around them. It is so sad. Family should be the people you are most comfortable around. I had a teacher tell me that we get caught up in the traditional sense of family too much and forget that we can create our own family.

    Damn I am pouring it out. I will stop here because I do not want to irritate anyone.

  • http://inthesunshyne.blogspot.com yes

    My dad has 5 kids by 3 women. I didn’t meet them until I was 17, not even 10 years ago. The oldest one is in jail so I have yet to meet him face to face, but he writes or calls from time to time. The middle two have an older brother I also consider my brother. Plus I have a brother on my mom’s side. Me and him are the only ones in this state, one sister in GA and the others in MI. I try to keep in contact with them when I can. My sisters are on FB now so it’s easy to see what they are up to. They are all older than me so sometimes I just feel I can’t relate since we are at different times in our lives. They have kids, husband/wives and I don’t. They were all pretty much open to meeting. It is what you make it. I think it should have happened a lot sooner, but according to one sister my dad didn’t think my mom would let me, but I don’t know why he thought that. He thinks all our moms are crazy, but that’s a whole nother topic. He didn’t raise any of us so…….yea. You can’t expect to have this instant bond when you meet them, but family is a good thing to have. I still have cousins on my dad’s side that I need to meet as well. I think my favorite thing is just getting out and travelling. If I want to go to ATL I can stay with my sister or if I go to FL I can stay with my uncle.

  • http://nwso.net NWSO

    @ Moe,

    Nah, you wouldn’t irritate anyone up on here. We share, that’s what I do and what we all do up on here. Ain’t no limit on feelings and emotions. Write what you feel in as many words as you feel. I know it’s therapeutic for me

  • http://inthesunshyne.blogspot.com yes

    I feel you Moe. Family is what you make out of it. I have plenty of family members, but I really don’t feel all that close to the any of them. Maybe because most of them are out of state, but still it is what you make it. It’s tough when you have parents that can’t let go of their personal issues towards each other and bring you in the middle of it. Who would it hurt for you to have a relationship with both sides of your family?

  • http://moesadventures.wordpress.com/ Moe

    @ YES
    I do not think it would hurt anyone for everyone to simply get along. It is so very easy but people make it so damn hard. All I want is to just be able to pick up the phone and call them or spend time with them comfortably like I do with my mom and brother. Yet it always feels like an event. Seeing family should be relaxing in my mind. I hate all this drama. In my mind I am above it but they just drag me back down every time. I wish I could release the thought of them being so damn important to me.

    Thank NWSO, it is a good release to just state how i feel. Especially without judgment.

  • Gizzle

    Family is what you make it, meaning that you can build your family.

    The friends that I grew up with are some of the closest people to me. Granted, I have close relationships with my siblings and parents- but I’d take a bullet (without thinking twice) for about 4 people who aren’t even blood relatives. Just cause I get the feeling that they’d do the same for me, instinctually.

    The thought of someone you love being really hurt can cause you to just act sometimes.

    Although, the desire to have meaningful relationships with people who are blood relatives is a strong one. However, I’ve learned from experience that you can’t force a relationship with ANYONE. You just try your best and keep it moving.

  • hanna

    very interesting indeed; i am going thru a similar situation in that i just recently decided to cut off ‘dead weight’ in my family. ok maybe it’s not so similar, lol, but seriously i was always very big on family growing up… loved the idea of family reunions and such though we never had that b/cc it took a lot more to go to ja and my mom was the first in her immediate family to go abroad and along with comes the pressure of living in ‘merica, lahnd huv hoportunity. that aside, getting to why i’m cutting off deadweight , my stepfather was very devisive, treating me very much like the stepchild although he met my mother with me at the age of 4?… fast forward to me at the age of 17 when our mother was in the hosp for a mastectomy and i discovered my sister, 3, was molested. she indicated that her father licked her there – it could be patois for hit and i told that to the authorities. i wasnt going to lie for or against the man, my concern was for my sister however much to my chagrin i drew the ire of my entire family, building, and all within listening reach of a ranting man’s yell. he had to move out during the investigation drawing more animosity from my younger siblings b/c their father wasn’t home anymore. my mom has since passed from cancer, r.i.p., so that thin thread that kept the “family” together went with her. i also have an older brother that resents me b/c our mother ‘came back for me and not him’ – i was the first one born here and apparently my mom sent me down for a couple of years. i have endured much emotional abuse for the sake of family; unfortunately i just dont have one thats worth a damn… my siblings have always put people before their family; my sister’s molester was never discovered. she and i have had a love/hate relationship mostly due to her; she seems to exhibit sibling rivalry though idk why since she’s nearly 15 yrs younger. recently she’s thrown in my face that i am the reason for the bad blood between myself and her father. really? buh-bye. no more. i cant do it any longer. have totally cut them all off ( my sister i clearly outlined in a letter as to the reasons why – she did not respond at all) here’s the hard part: she has my nephew that i love to pieces and a newborn as well. i have 2 teenagers that miss her and her son. do i cut them off to her as well b/c she will use them as she uses me. the latest rift was due to the one time that i needed help from her regarding my son and she didnt do anything but throw up walls as she always does when it’s convenient. when i read/think on my situation its like damn you’re all fucked up! (dont even let me get started on the father i thought was my uncle yet found out otherwise in my stepfather’s drunken rant!) au contrare mon frer, i am blessed, loved by my children, friends mostly God.

    so do i draw the line in the sand with my children to foster a bond that says you stick with family (each other) building a better family unit that will last well after i’m gone? haven’t figured it all out yet but it’s funny b/c my children realized i was a softy when it came to my family and now though they understand they think i’m going a bit too hard, lol!

    damn, i’ll stop pouring here, too!
    :)

  • LolitaBaby

    Coming from a broken home has made me kind of a loner. Because there was always drama going on, I learned very early to keep to myself, stay quiet, and trust no one. Divorce, abuse, abandonment, and bastard-children are staples in my family. As a result, many people in my family have either run away or been kicked out and left to fend for themselves. I’m not really close with any of my relatives outside of my siblings and parents, with the exception one cousin, mostly because I don’t trust them, but also because many of them have been so destroyed at the hands of other family members that it’s impossible to have a relationship without resentment. You know how they say, hurt people hurt people. Not that I don’t even talk to them, but I just keep my distance because I gotta move on.

    I wish the fact that my family is big made for better circumstances, but it’s quite the contrary, it’s actually just more hurt people.

    Needless to say, I have trust issues. I’m in therapy working on it, but I have a hard time determining when it’s appropriate to trust people and when people don’t deserve my trust. I’m also extremely sensitive. I learned early to hide my pain and keep going because either no one will really care, or I couldn’t bear to let anyone see me weak because they would use my vulnerability against me.

    Sometimes, I really feel like I hate my family for all the crap that myself and the others in my generation had to put up with. But I just remind myself that it’s my responsibility to get these emotional poisons out of my family’s genes so future generations aren’t plagued with the same emotional sicknesses.

  • Elle

    NWSO, your family dynamics remind me lot of my own.

    My father plus his side of my ancestors are a complete waste of oxygen in my book. And on my mom’s side mostly everybody died before I was born or when I was still very young. So I consider my mom and my older brother my immediate family. I have one aunt I absolutely love and another who I like. Other than that the people closest to me are my friends. How does the saying go: Friends are the family we choose for ourself.

    Theoretically, I have an older sister from my dad’s first marriage who I have actually met in the past. But there is no connection, bond, whatsoever. This whole meeting seemed completely artificial and forced “because it is the right thing to do”.
    There are no conflicts, nor have there been any in the past which could have influenced me in my interaction with anyone for two reasons: there are not enough people in my family to actually argue with and the ones that do exist are spread all over the world. With that distance, no real bond can be formed to begin with. And without a bond why would I get mad at anything a stranger does – no matter how stupid it may be.

    Personally, I do not feel obligated to bond with people I don’t know merely based on some shared alleles. I much rather bond with people I have goals, dreams, ideas, values, history in common with.
    A large family – IMO – is not necessary to lead an emotionally healthy life. I have so many wonderful people in my circle who can and will be great influences in my unborn kids’ lives.
    Quite frankly, I do not find a large family desirable at all. More people, more problems, more toes to step on, more opinions and so on. And being the individualist that I am makes it impossible for me to always worry about what the family may say/think. I do me, take it or leave it. I’m too old to always justify my actions in front of the family tribunal.

  • distinguishedgentlewoman

    I grew up with my mother’s family, so I’m not very close to my paternal relatives. We left Guyana more than 30 years ago and my father rarely reached out to his family–he has brothers and sisters to whom he has not spoken since he came to the U.S. To this day he has only reached out to one of his sisters, after she came to the States. I try to reach out whenever I go back home, but I don’t feel the connection to them that I do to my mother’s relatives, and at times conversations with them are strained.

    On the other hand, my father had a son before he and my mom were married who I have never met. I would love to meet my brother, but I haven’t a clue of how to go about searching for him. My father knows very little about his whereabouts: He may or may not be now living in New Jersey; his name may or may not be Sean; he may have become an engineer; and he may or may not have said he wants nothing to do with the birth father who abandoned him when he was a baby and never looked back. I’ve been thinking about hiring a private investigator to help me find him, because I really want to see him. I don’t know if I would feel the connection that I feel with my younger brother, but I would like to have a chance to find out.

    P.S.
    NWSO:

    Buy phone cards HERE. It’s cheap, and you don’t lose any minutes.

  • KiSS

    Thanks for talking about your family dynamics. I commend you on reaching out to your sister. I have a similar situation. My parents were married very young. My dad had an affair and my older brother was born a few weeks before me.(Yeah we’re the same age). Well we also have a younger brother. My dad was great to my younger brother and me but he was invisible to my older brother. My paternal grandmother was the only one to have us around. Once when we were about 5 or 6 he told me he was my brother. I asked him when was his birthday. I dismissed his claim because I was old enough to know it took 9 months for a baby to be born but did not realize we could have different mothers lol.I asked my dad if he was my brother. My dad said that he didn’t have a father so he told people that he (my dad) was his father. I think about that now in disgust. Flash forward lots of awkward years and we would see each other and walk by. Our grandma had moved to a different state years before. Our junior year of high school I wrote him a letter basically saying our dad was not going to initiate a relationship. He called me that night and we’ve been close every since. I love both my brothers and now we all have a great relationship which we can only give ourselves credit for.

  • YoungJay

    @ Gizzle

    I agree that family is what you make it…I dont have the benefit of a big family, so growing up I built my family up of friends. My boys are no different than if they were born my brothers.

    @ the topic

    Growing up I had a little to no connection with my sperm donors (father’s) family outside of my grandmother. Because I traveled alot I was never really available for their family functions, and when I was in town i felt more comfortable with my mother’s family. Recently I have been making a deliberate effort to be around them more and have realized that they are a good group of people who just happened to be related to my jerkoff of a father.

  • The Intellect

    Although I do not come from a broken home and I am very close to both sides of my family, I do have plenty of friends in this same situation.

    However, I do wonder in situations like these, what the role of siblings should be in each other’s lives. Case in point, when I watch the Keyshia Cole show it seems like she has a new sibling every episode. I want to know if you come fron a broken home and you suddenly get thrust into the spotlight or come into money, should you be the one to be sister/brother to people you barely know?

  • D

    My situation is similar with a few differences of course. My father passed away when I was 9. The last time I’ve had any real contact with his side of the family, including my grandmother, was at his funeral. It may sound heartless, but I also don’t have any desire to contact them or see them in MS. I’m close with members of my mom’s side and also my church family so to me that’s been good enough.

    Is it wrong that I don’t wanna get close to my father’s side of the family despite their efforts to reach out?

  • http://www.mstrecie.com MsTrecie

    I am close to both of my parent’s maternal sides; however, my mom’s dad passed when she was 9 months and I only have one uncle on that side that comes and visits us and still checks to make sure everything is okay. My dad’s dad cheated on his wife and my dad was the product, so his side never wanted anything to do with us until about 6 or 7 years ago when she died. They try to call now, but I have no desire to talk…to ‘bond’. I have my family….and both sides are very close! Both of my sides (both mom’s and dad’s) come together at least once a year and have a big party! My family is one big happy family.

  • K-Love

    I come an average size family and we are all very close, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters brothers, we are close. It’s great to have a family as a support system but they can also become too involved because we are close knit.We get together all the time and we definitely put the FUN in dysfunctional… Everyone has their own issues but we work through anything as a family no matter how big or small the issue. Of course we go at it, everytime we are together. I mean some one fights, someone cusses or someone does both. At the end of the day we are still blood and whatever happened happened, and its over, till we meet again. Its actually pretty dayum hilarious, being in the younger generation of the family, you see and hear a lot of things.

    Coming from my family is good for my son, even though I am a single mother, he still has other positive adult figures in his life. He only know’s his grandmother on his father’s side, i want him to know more, but i don’t even know that much about the remainder of his family. Its great to know where you came from, it gives you a clearer picture of where you are going, and i want my son have the same.

  • Soulyn

    Both my mother and father are Guyanese. Since my mother abandoned me when I was 2(could be a blessing in disguise), I am very close to my paternal relatives.

    I come from a very large family. My father is very close with his family. I can’t imagine life without my relatives and the extended family I’ve grown to love like my blood: my younger sister’s family (dad’s ex-girlfriend/my stepmother). She is the mother I’ve always wanted and her children are like my brothers and sisters . Her family has accepted me as their own since the age of 7.

    I am the eldest of dad’s 3 daughters. The youngest and I are not close at all. My biological mother has 5 kids and I’m the second child. My relationship with them for the most part is non-existent.

    As an adult, I’m working on maintaining and improving the relationships I have with all of my relatives and close friends. I don’t know mom’s family and it doesn’t bother me(mom invites me to dinners with them and I don’t attend, I think I’d feel very awkward around them). My maternal grand mother was in the hospital last year and I didn’t visit her. I was a little bothered by it because I really didn’t know how to feel. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything(mom’s fam), except the relationship she and I should have had.

    Glad I am loved and have wonderful ppl in my life who helped mold me inspite of the obstacles.

  • HM

    This is deep. I am a single mother to a 2 year old boy and his father has an older son who is 10 that lives in another state. Now my son’s father is somewhat in my son’s life but doesn’t financially support him or his older son. My son also doesn’t know about his older half brother being that they only saw each other once when he was a baby. I actually reached out to the other ‘babymama’ and let her know that I’m willing to foster some kind of relationship between the two sometime in the future, although I think that this should be more of their father’s job. Of course knowing who he is, how his family is (they live in the same city and don’t check on us at all), and my belief that family bonds are also important, I put in the effort in case my son ever has questions in the future or has the need to connect. Thankfully I am close with my immediate family and my son is as well, but still my worry is that when he gets older he will also want to be connected with his father’s side so that he can feel like a grounded whole person. I don’t want him to ever suffer feeling like his father doesn’t love him or want him because I know the damage that can do. Anyways rambling… but point is I think if you can make the effort, even if it isn’t ‘fair’ that you have to do most of the work, it may be worthwhile. At least try and if it doesn’t work out, at least rest easy that you put your hand out and keep it moving. Extended family is also a blessing!

  • Naphtalia

    @ NWSO. I feel you about the grandmother thing. I recently visited my paternal grandmother (I met her at 17). She had no idea who I was. She has been ill, and my uncle felt I should visit. Because I had no bond with her and don’t know her, I had no real feelings. I felt bad for her because she was ill, but admittingly, if she were to die, I wouldn’t be broken up about it or anything.

    I consider my mother and 2 younger brothers as “family”. My family tree is broken and even twisted in some places. We are a mixture of step parents and half brothers; adopted parents and real parents; play cousins and fake nephews; Folks I know and folks I’ve never even met!

    Like Gizzle mentioned, I’ve made it a point to bond with those who want to bond, regardless of the type of family tie. Truth be told, I have a couple of friends who are closer to me than most of my family members. I don’t hate anyone, but I’ve managed to have a pretty decent “family” life with immediate relatives and close friends. It’s weird. We know we are family, and we respect and love each other as such, but we don’t go to great lengths to prove that we have a tight familial bond. Some of my family members (for example) may dislike one of my parents, but want to get to know me. Odd, but I don’t knock it. I met my older siblings (paternal) when I was 17–I didn’t even know they existed! We aren’t close today, but we chat from time to time. I do notice my father trying to reach out more now that he’s getting older however…

  • Neska

    I come from a family that’s really big, my mother the oldest of nine my father the third of ten! I grew up knowing and visiting all the family member s that I hade, but now it’s sooo different. SOme of my cousins let issues that happened between our parents stunt any relationship that we could have. It’s really sad cause I’ve tried on more thatn one occasion to have them do stuff with our family, but they insist on puttin on a show when we have a big funtion then act brand new when i try to call them. Some of my other cousins I’m always in contact with (overseas and all) cause our parents grew up really close.
    I have an older brother from my farther, he’s lived in Guyana for most of his life so i never really saw him but he would call my sisters and I cause we wanted to know eachother. When he moved to Barbados and I was visiting we spent the majority of our tiime together and it was great, but sisnce i came back i hardly hear form him. His number was constanly changin, mine was the same yet i would only get a quick hi if he were on the phone with our dad. He has a daughter and I’m the only sister of his that she knows. My sisters make no effort to know their neice outside of her name and wat she looks like, so i dont make any joke when im goin to Guyana to get in touch with her grandmother and let her knowim comin and that I want to see her.
    I feel for you guys that have yet to have a relationship with the rest of your family cause having it, i cant even fathom how i would be without it.

  • http://brooklife.blogspot.com brook

    hmmn. my situation is so different. My pops has children from a previous marriage. Thus i have half brothers but only one alive and he visited us a few times growing up and I went to his wedding but we weren’t close until our father passed and we were both like, “damn, I still got a brother,” cause we each got a different version of dad and together we can piece him together.

  • Marley

    @ NWSO…although you are fond of you brothers and your sister you should try your best to reach out to your family as often as you can…family is or (should be at least) the most important thing in your life…you never know how much you learn from them…I can’t tell you how much I learn from my nieces and nephews everytime I see them children look at the world through different eyes than we adults do…I have an older brother who I don’t see as much as I’d like to but I make an effort to call him as often as I can even if he doesn’t pick up I leave him a message just telling him I love him…I didn’t have the opportunity to have a relationship with my mother because she passed before I was able to speak but my father and I have bond that many people would call unorthodox because we like bestfriends I don’t keep things from him we can pretty much speak about anything…to sum up what I am trying to say is family should be your rock your heart and your outlet…

    *peace and love*

    Marley

  • http://www.myspace.com/janetmarieskid JB

    Coming from a broken home has distorted my view of family. It also made me serious (read: desperate) to make a family of the friends that I have encountered. This is hard when they have their own families to contend with. I gave up on that dream. I have always been a loner. Always thought that it was just that I was my mother’s only child. I do have several siblings that I have never met. Way to go sperm donor who was married with 3 kids before I was born. My mother told me that she saw another woman who introduced her baby to my sperm donor the way that I met him: Riding on the the damn bus that he drove. Probably in the same turnaround loop before it headed to other parts of the city.

    The relatives, not really close to them at all. Some of the ones that are in my age bracket, I am cool with but there is no real bond now that we are adults. We were much closer as children. Only person that i really bond with in my fam is my aunt (who is 5 years older). Like NWSO, my momz had to distance herself from the fam. I found out later that my momz was trying to protect me and herself from their brand of bullshit (thought processes). After seeing these people as an adult, I have concluded that she made the correct decision. Especially after people (blood relatives) going around calling my momz a lesbian and telling others that she was strung out on drugs just because she wouldn’t reach out to them.

    The drugs part was told to my mother’s dad, right around the time that she died, who had not seen my mother since she was a baby if ever. And worse, my mother found out that she had a brother when she was 40! Damn vicious cycle that has to stop.

    I have tried to reach out to the siblings that I don’t know. I would love to know them. Hell, if for nothing more than health history…we are blood especially the ones that had a direct connection to the sperm donor.

    Ok…have rambled long enough.

  • Nicole

    All the words and emotions you chose to use in this blog are the exact words that would’ve came out of my mouth. I know how you feel: the awkwardness of talking to long lost siblings and other family members, realizing that family is a finding a sense of self, and wondering what you’ll tell your future children about your family, are all thoughts that have run through my mind. My mother’s side kind of disowned her, she’s a bit crazy,to say the least and in turn, she disowned them. My dad’s side has it more together, but my mom never let us see them either (I think she figured if we coudn’t see her side, we weren’t allowed to see my dad’s either). So it’s sort of her fault why I couldn’t at least be close to my dad’s family. My dad, being a drug addict, was in and out of our lives, but he cared for us more than my mother. Now that I’m 22, it’s been a real tough road, not having family to lean on when the tough times have come. It’s interesting, because everyone, all of sudden, wants to be apart of my life, now that I’m graduating from college. Sometimes it has been difficult to try to mend relationhips with extended family knowing how they’ve treated my mom in the past and what they still say about her sometimes. But why couldn’t they have tried to fight their way into my life when I was younger? I wonder if it’s because they know I’ll be making good money soon, and they want to make amends before I become really successful. Sometimes you’ll never receive that answer to the “why?” question… I’ve learned to find family in friends, mentors, etc. Sorry this comment was long, lol. But I felt I had to say something about this difficult subject I’ve struggled with in my life.

  • sankore

    My family is some what complicated also. My sister and I were both born in Liberia. We came to the states when I was 4 and my sister was 3. That was 1976. Fast forward to the 90’s when I had contact with my dad before my high school graduation. We kept in contact with pics and phone calls. But sadly we lost contact during the war and we were reunited again last year. My sister does not want to see our dad at all. I took it upon myself to make sure that I got in contact with my father’s side of the family. My dads side has welcomed me with open arms, but my sister does not want to be bothered. My sister feels as though my father abandoned us, which is not true. My mom left my dad b/c she wanted to come back home to the states and my father did not want to leave his home in Liberia. At this moment I am in the process of getting my dad his visa so that he can visit the U.S. for the summer. I also found out that I have two more sisters and two more brothers, the youngest being 19. My father is so hurt that my sister refuses to call him. But I can honestly say that I am glad that I reached out to my other sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts. When he comes for the summer I plan on having a huge Liberian family reunion(lol). I just hope my sister comes to her senses and make an effort to see our dad, b/c he aint getting no younger, dude is like 74! I love my sisters and brothers and they love me back.

  • Bijouu

    Hey NWSO,

    I sympathize with you. It was really nice reading this piece, because I’ve been personally debating reaching out to family on my father’s and mother’s side as well. Totally in a similar boat (mother not in contact with her side…father never talked about his side, then parents eventually split).

    My thoughts were for my future kids and family down the line…I didn’t/don’t want their history tree to begin with just me, when I know there are people living and being that I can contact.

    But I like your homegirl’s advice about doing it for yourself as well.

    Thanks again for this piece…definitely resonated with me.

  • bogart4017

    i have one older sister and 4 younger brothers. My sister, me and 3 younger brothers share the same mother but my sister never met her father. I guess you can imagine the identity problems she had/has. Me and all my brothers share the same mother and father except for the youngest who has a different mother. He also grew up right around the corner from us and still today we are still as thick as thieves!!
    I can’t think of anything negative to say about our situation—perhaps its because we came up in a different decade (50’s/60’s) when black people still genuinely loved each other and looked out for each others children. We are trying to raise all our children the same way we were raised–to believe that we are all the same blood and when the deal goes down we don’t have nothing but each other.

  • Miss RYL

    I’ve been a reader-only for a couple of weeks now. The topics are always interesting, but today (though late), I had to write on this one.

    Dysfunctional family? I know all about it. In 2005, I went to a family gathering–cousins, aunts, uncles,everyone. Guess who else was in attendance…a big brother I didn’t know I had! WOW! The kicker? Everyone knew, but me. Can you say shocked? At that point, I figured out why my mom was not in attendance!

    To make a long one short, I found out I was the baby that came from my mom cheating with her friend’s–my mother was/is my “big brother’s” godmother–man.

    Needless to say…that day affected me deeply! I finally understood why momz & I always stayed away from family gatherings…why I always felt “apart” from everyone, etc.

    It’s taken a lot of prayer and self-introspection to help me get to a place where I’m alright with me. Mind you, the above is just a small part of my family drama, but I think it was the unknown mess that was festering underneath the surface causing me much pain.

    NWSO, thank you for providing a comfortable place to “speak” freely about such a personal topic!

  • Spinster

    Coming from a broken home affects anyone involved, whether they believe it or not.

    Outside of immediate family, I’m not that close with other family members. I check in on my oldest great-aunt once a month or so, but besides that, I have family members who live blocks away from me and don’t bother reaching out. (I stopped trying a long time ago so it goes both ways.) My (mother’s) extended family is huge and spread across the U.S. and our home country. My father’s extended family, though I don’t know most of them, is also huge and spread out across the U.S.

    Dad was a rolling stone. I have 5 half-siblings; 3 of them are 8 y.o. and younger and live in different states so it’s difficult to forge a relationship with them due to distance and/or the mothers not making efforts to bond the kids with the rest of their siblings. The other 2 are older than 18; I’ve forged a relationship with the oldest one out of those 2 but we still have a long way to go (more because of her own interpersonal issues that she’d rather smoke away than receive counseling for). The youngest one is mad at me right now (hilarious) because she’s not doing well in school and I called her out on it. That’s what older siblings are for. ;-)

    In addition, I have 2 younger brothers. Me and the oldest one share the same rolling stone father. When people ask how many siblings I have, I just say 2 brothers because it’s way too complicated to explain the situation over and over again.

    Family. Sigh. :-/

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