I wasn’t raised in a traditional nuclear family. My parents separated when I was very young. They each went on to have other relationships and marriages. Those relationships and marriages brought new families into my life and as an adult I still maintain connections to some of the people who became my aunties, uncles and cousins. The complicated part of all this is that when my parents moved on and cut ties from these people they expected me to do the same even though these people had become important figures in my life.
Now that I’m ill some of these aunties, uncles and cousins have stepped up to support me. They have made me meals to stock my freezer so I didn’t have to cook for weeks. They call to get progress updates about my condition. They come to visit and sit with me to just talk about nothing. They have shown up when I needed it and I didn’t have ask.
What makes this complicated is that these aunties, uncles and cousins are people who my mother cut out of her life. I have kept the support I’m receiving from them secret from my mother. Every time I speak to or see one of them I feel a bit guilty. Actually, it’s more accurate to say I feel conflicted. These people love me and I need all the love I can get right now, but I feel – I’ve always felt – that being with them betrays my mother.
I’ve been trying for what feels like forever to accept that these pieces of my life have to exist independent of each other. Right now maintaining separations and keeping secrets adds a layer of complication to my life that is exhausting when I need to focus my energy on bigger things. I’m aware that I’m making the choice that perpetuates this internal conflict but I feel like the alternative would be worse.
Why does family have to be so complicated?
Avril Lavigne – Complicated (Official Video)