heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 5 of 7: Beyond the olive branch

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“Family quarrels are bitter things. They don’t go according to any rules. They’re not like aches or wounds, they’re more like splits in the skin that won’t heal because there’s not enough material.”    

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Why can’t we all just get along?

People have been warring since the beginning of time. Tribes. Religious sects. Nations.

And, yes, families.

As I said a few days back, “It all begins and ends with Family.” How can we expect nations to coexist in peace and harmony when many of us can’t even manage to keep our families intact?

There are so many stressors that lead to family conflict: financial problems, joblessness, addiction, illness, death, inheritance and even something as basic as incompatible and/or strong personalities. It is healthy and normal to argue, debate and occasionally fight.  It is unhealthy and hateful to harm others – physically, emotionally, in their business and their reputation within society.

Problems rarely, if ever, solve themselves. Resolution (to problems) usually requires compromise, which inevitably results in loss (i.e. giving something up, to keep the peace).  If  there is love, respect and a willingness to work through the conflict – because of a deep-seated desire to keep the family together – then there is hope.  Sometimes an outside mediator, such as a therapist, counsellor or spiritual guide (i.e. priest/minister/rabbi/imam) may be needed to assist with the process of resolution and reconciliation.  Hopefully, the conflict gets resolved… without too much collateral damage.

“Problems are like washing machines. They twist us, spin us and knock us around but in the end we come out cleaner, brighter and better than before.”    

– Unknown

But what if we can’t all just get along? Not now. Not ever. It happens all the time.  Parents divorce. Children leave home for good, pledging never to return. Siblings each go their own way, losing all communication with each other. Family members become estranged. It’s sad, even tragic, when that happens.

I don’t have any answers. What I do know for sure is that family is fundamental to our well-being.  That said, for family to coexist as a united and loving unit… each and every family member must want it to be so.  Some people need time, space and distance to gain perspective and eventually reunite.

Alas, there are some families so fractured that they are beyond the olive branch.

And everyone moves on – each going his/her separate way.

Sometimes it’s for the better.

“Sometimes problems don’t require a solution to solve them; instead they require maturity to outgrow them.”    

Steve Maraboli

Some Book Recommendations:

Peace Catalysts: Resolving Conflict in Our Families, Organizations and Communitiesby Rick Love

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Mom Always Liked You Best: A Guide for Resolving Family Feuds, Inheritance Battles & Eldercare Crises Arline Kardasis and Rikk Larsen

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*Note: The title of today’s Blog – “Beyond the olive branch” – is the title of Volume 4 in my Baby Boomer Series™ of books (in progress

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 1 of 7: It all begins and ends with Family

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“The family is the nucleus of civilization.”

Will Durant

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Happy New Year everyone!

This year, the inspiration for my New Year’s “Revelations” stem from some of the experiences, life events and lessons learned in the past year.

For me, it was – as Charles Dickens wrote (in A Tale of Two Cities) – “the best of times, it was the worst of times…. it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

And with each year comes more wisdom.

I hope that some or all of these revelations resonate with you.

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It all begins and ends with Family. It forms the core of our belief system and is the springboard from which we go on to conduct the rest of our lives.  Family supersedes nationalistic ideals, political aspirations and even religious dogma.  Family. Is. Everything. Well, at least it should be.

In a Utopian world, the family should be a “safe harbor” where we are loved, cherished, encouraged, and understood. It is an entity that should be devoid of judgment, jealousy, gossip, or hatred and replete with loyalty, familiarity – a strong sense of shared history and kinship. It is a clanship which fosters collaboration over divisiveness. In a Utopian world.

There are some who are blessed with an idyllic family.

There are others whose families do not withstand the passage of time and who crack or even fall apart when tested by hardship or tragedy.

Sadly, there are still more who are born into dysfunctional, damaged, and abusive families.

And then there are those who are left adrift – with no family at all.

“There is no such thing as a “broken family.” Family is family, and is not determined by marriage certificates, divorce papers, and adoption documents. Families are made in the heart. The only time family becomes null is when those ties in the heart are cut. If you cut those ties, those people are not your family. If you make those ties, those people are your family. And if you hate those ties, those people will still be your family because whatever you hate will always be with you.”

– C. JoyBell C.

My husband and I have built, for over three decades, that safe harbor we call our intimate family. It’s just the two of us… and all the beloved four-legged creatures who inhabit our house. This “safe harbor” has withstood the passage of time, despite many storms and even some typhoons. We are weather-beaten but happy sailors in this journey that is our life. Unfortunately, we have witnessed a few wreckages along the way.

“There is no greater blessing than a family hand that lifts you from a fall; but there is not lower curse than a family hand that strikes you when you’re down.”    

– Wes Fessler

And, as we all know, blood does not necessarily form a family bond. Families can be born from the heart… by choice. However the connection is formed, the important thing is to understand and maintain the true notion of Family.

We may not live in a Utopian world… but we can (and should) certainly strive to get there.

“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.”

Alex Haley

Some Book Recommendations:

Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationshipsby Harry Brighouse & Adam Swift

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Why Can’t We Get Along: Healing Adult Sibling Relationshipsby Peter Goldenthal

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Photo via pdpics.com