Out of the blue…

I received a phone call the other day from a number I didn’t recognize.  Since I get those fairly frequently, I let it go to voicemail.  I actually got a message, which surprised me.  Since I was in the middle of something at work, I didn’t listen to the message then.  When I did listen to the message, I was rather shocked to hear it was my cousin calling to find out if it was still my number.  Since I haven’t seen or spoken to this cousin for years, this was completely out of the blue for me.

I spoke to my cousin this morning and it was a good conversation.  Pretty basic, but we haven’t seen each other in more years than I like to think about.  It did make me think about family relationships and how they influence us.

Would my brothers and I be closer to each other if we had examples of close siblings in our parents?  I have no idea whether there is any animosity (and don’t want to know), but I do know that my parents and their siblings aren’t close.  My eldest brother and I have a decent relationship, but we each have our own lives and don’t make the effort to talk to each other very often. 

Fact of the matter is, all of us have our own lives.  But what makes a person reach out to other family members more frequently?  Although physical distance can be a barrier, there are families that stay in contact via email and phone so they all know what’s going on in each others’ lives.  So what makes one family remain close while another grows apart?  And can we change that distance after the fact?

I don’t know.

I do know it isn’t simply distance, divorce, or family size.  I’ve known families where everyone doesn’t stay in contact, but there’s a touchstone, Mom, Grandma, Garandpa, someone who everyone stays in contact with.  I’ve known other families that are so close you wonder about them; everyone knows everything about everyone else.  Other families were a harsh judgement has shattered a family.  Families where members might fight, disagree, or stop talking to each other, but they still stay in contact with other members.  What makes the people in the family react so differently to the same situation? 

I know someone is going to say that each family is different just as every human is different.  And I think we are actually getting somewhere with that.  Psychologists have been studying something called resiliency in children as a response to trauma.  Like children and adults, do families have a sense of reliliency?  Do families that “bounce back” from a trauma (possibly over a long time) have more of this resiliency than families that shatter under a tragedy?

The next question, though:

Is there something we can do to make our families more resilient and able to cope with a radical change, trauma, or tragedy? 

Since I don’t have a direct famiy (spouse & children), anyone that would like to chime in on that, please do.


~ by theartistryofthebipolarbrain on May 24, 2012.

10 Responses to “Out of the blue…”

  1. well maybe this cousin was having the same thoughts about family and was trying to change the way the family connected. I think that would have to be the thing to do. Call your brother and just see how he is doing and tell him your cousin called. Or call another one of your cousins and see how they are. If a few of you just touched base with some of the others and visa versa, Then the family could get closer but not in a too close in your face sort of way. If that is what kind of a situation you would like.

  2. The above comment is a pretty good suggestion. Though generally, it usually ends up one person trying to keep the contact lines open, and the others not always trying to call, touch base, etc. It’s not because they don’t care, but because it’s too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day that things just slip our minds.

    Usually, families that keep in touch are generally because there’s that one or more people continually touching base, but not in an “in your face” sort of way. That takes a great deal of personal resilience, knowing how to reach out without feeling hurt if someone doesn’t reach back the way we’d hope. Being the person in my family who usually falls out of touch and forgets to call, I can tell you that it’s not because I don’t love them all dearly, it’s just I’m so far away from them and don’t remember things well.

    Anyway, I guess I’m trying to encourage you to make a call here or there, send a “thinking of you” card, etc., and see how things go. And if they don’t respond back as often or as quickly as maybe they ought, don’t let that discourage you. Your contact really does matter to them. ❤

    • Within my immediate family, I am often the one who makes the effort to keep in contact with everyone else. And I have been doing this for years. We will have to see how things go with the other parts of my family. 🙂

  3. This is interesting. My family have always been over-involved, enmeshed, controlling and judgemental. Recently I’ve just wanted to pull away because it’s all too much- too intense. It’s taken me a while to realise that it’s OK for me to pull away.

    Mum & Dad both have traumatic pasts and Dad is Bipolar, so they have a lot of issues. It took me a long time to realise I couldn’t help them or make them better. I’m learning to let go.

    Great post.


    • Rachel,

      In some cases, pulling away is essential. Certain members of my family have been what you describe in the past, and I had to pull away at the time. To me, though, it seems as though the members of my family have pulled so far away from each other that we have created a huge gulf between family members. That’s what I would like to see disappear. I don’t want to knolw everything, but knowing the big stuff would be nice.

  4. Apologies for not being around of late. I’ve had…family stuff to deal with. For me, family is stressful. I would pull away completely if I didn’t feel so guilty. And if I wouldn’t be leaving certain family members without an advocate. There is no one else.

    I think whether the familial connection remains in adulthood depends on whether you have something in common…and whether your relationships are healthy.

    I’m glad you were able to touch base with your cousin.

    • Hey girl!

      I am sorry that your family issues are causing problems for you. *hug* I am of the opinion that the reason my family is so disconnected is because we have all been hurt by our families in one way or another. Reaching out when you’ve been hurt before is so hard.

      And I know you might not want to be in your current situation, but I am sure those you advocate for appreciate what you do, whether they say so or not.

  5. Hey where you at? Did you decide to run off with your cousin? lol j/k

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