As I was recently wrestling with feelings surrounding my brother’s estrangement from me, I realized that estrangement has permeated our family for as long as I can remember.
After my paternal grandmother’s death more than a decade ago, my paternal grandfather went off the rails and refused to talk to anyone in our family. He showed up, uninvited, to my wedding in 2011, and that was the last time I saw him.
There had been issues with that side of the family throughout my childhood. We occasionally went long periods of time without seeing them, and I heard through closed doors fights about money issues, and issues with my uncles (allegedly?) embezzling money from my grandfather’s business. I don’t know where the truth was.
I’ve written before about my brother’s estrangement from me–it’s just from me, though my parents get a 60-second phone call from him each Thursday, so I suppose they get about an hour’s worth of his time each year via phone. While it’s not great, it’s not complete estrangement. He’s saved that just for me.
Rather than thinking specifically about these missing people, these missing holes and branches on my family tree, I’ve been thinking about estrangement in general. It’s really a running away. It strikes me that this is my family’s way of dealing with uncomfortable things–shutting down and running away.
I’m trying to change that, but I realize that’s my first reaction, too. I freeze, and then I panic, and then I try to run away. It only hurts myself.