As I child I recalled with sheer delight and wonder the many celebrations that were shared with our extended family at my grandparents house in Gympie or at my aunt and uncle’s farm in Cooran. Parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts cousins, first, second, third, neighbours, friends — everyone was invited and included.
Twenty years old and on a quest to create my own version of family, my parents finally divorced after a tumultuous marriage — just as my first child was born. From that moment, it was pistols at twenty paces. The days of everyone celebrating together were seemingly over. Torn between my love of family community and being the dutiful daughter, I began to manage TWO separate events for each celebration of life’s little milestones — Christmas, Easter, birthdays, christenings, and graduations. Even though I had my own family and my own life, it was like splitting my heart into two every single time.
Fast forward through my own subsequent marriage breakdowns and I simply couldn’t face any of my children feeling that same splintering pain in their hearts — feeling that same shame — that same guilt — that same longing for the heart — the family to be whole again. So in the face of acute criticism, both internally( from my own deep well of shame of failing twice) and externally( from the stern judgement of family and friends), I chose the road less travelled and continued my childhood dream of inclusive family celebrations. One event per milestone and everyone is invited to be a part of it — no exceptions. All in together. Everyone is invited — my parents and their partners, exes and partners and children, my ex in laws and every single person who is a part of my children’s lives. We are all in!
You have no idea how I have been pulled apart, crucified and condemned as being weak, twisted, sick, and just plain wrong for maintaining a network of people that should by all intents and purposes hate, despise and avoid each other.
So as much as I have been determined to hold it all together I have also felt secretly very ashamed of this perceived inherent major weakness in myself — my big character flaw. What’s wrong with me? Why do I expect people to get over their pain and stay connected? Why can’t I just move on from the past and create a whole new future without holding onto people? Why do I need to hold it all together? ……..and the list goes on while the internal bruising deepens………….
This has been my secret shame. This has been my kryptonite…..that is until this week.
I visited my uncle last Monday with one of my children. He noted to my son how lucky he and his three siblings were to have such strong relationships together — with themselves, with me and with the greater family. He marveled at how they seemed to side step many of the challenges that typically most Generation Y experienced. He was impressed with the intelligence with which they conducted themselves and the incredible power of their ability to communicate with anyone in any situation. He attributed this as a direct result of the inclusive family event structure and subsequent enormous resource of connection and support that had been built around them from birth. He admired how they saw themselves as part of a global family and how they in turn continued to expand that family to include even more.
Until that moment I never truly saw how others valued my fanatical family traditions. I only saw the scorn and denunciation. I only heard the spite and the poison. I forgot to acknowledge the incredible exchange that everyone was receiving and making. I was looking in the mirror and spitting at the ugliness of a reflection that wasn’t even mine! All this time I have been five years old and sitting in the mud of my parent’s disapproval.
So ask yourself, what value are you missing when you doubt yourself?
What shame do you think you are hiding while the world sees only your beauty?
What do you judge about yourself that others around you actually covet?
So yeah I’m dangling my feet while sitting on top of the pendulum and simply marveling at the swings to each side of this story while planning my next big event for my big fat Greek Italian Skip crazy family. 🙂