Wednesday, January 13, 2010


My Uncle died the other day. Today was his funeral. He was a wonderful, sweet man. He was a lovely man. And being around the family the last few days has been nice, though I wish it was for a different reason. As is often the case when I get together with family, I also get a little melancholy. You see, I just don't fit in. And I really don't know why. And I really want to because I really want Bam-Bam to have a connection with a family bigger than just us. And it's not that anyone has ever been mean to me and told me that I don't fit in. It's a feeling. My brother has always felt the same way, too.

So, let me go back. My dad and his two older sisters were several years apart. In fact 10+ years between them, so they were a whole different generation. So the two oldest sisters had in common that they were around the same age and their families just naturally spent more time together because they were closer. Also, our parents were divorced when we were young so we didn't spend as much time with Dad's side as the other cousins because we were always going back and forth between parents, step-parents...a whole bunch of different places. So my brother, though the same age as 3 of his cousins, was kind of always the odd man out. His personality was also a little hard to swallow which also didn't help. And I, because I was one of the younger cousins, would hang out with my cousin Becky, who was my Dad's younger sister's kid. I know this is complicated so it's ok if you're not exactly with me. My Dad's younger sister moved to California and there went my playmate. It was terrible for me. At family gatherings after that, I would mostly hang out with my Dad. He was my best buddy anyway. I always enjoyed being with him. I adored him. He was the love of my life before my husband. Because he was divorced and my brother eventually moved away, we became a two-some at family gatherings. We were like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump says. Sure, I would talk to people, but it was always a tad awkward.

The funny thing is that the "real" me is anything but shy. I mean, if you knew me now, you would think it was silly that I would feel awkward. In regular company I am a social butterfly. My job is to train people, for God's sake. I get up in a room in front of 10's or 100's of people. I'm confident, poised, even perhaps eloquent (at times), not to mention that I can be a stitch. But with my family it's different.

My dad died almost 11 years ago and when he died, a piece of me died with him. How can I be the peas without the carrots? So now it can be painful for me to be around everyone. I always feel like something huge is missing. And because Dad and I were a pair, I never mingled well with everyone. So now that I have a husband and a child, we are all on the sidelines. Or at least it feels that way. The rest of the family all seem so close to each other and I don't know how to break into that. I also don't want to force them to have a relationship with me if they don't want it. And I think I am always just a little cautious about putting myself out there too much with any of them lest I be let down and feel rejected. My brother doesn't come around anymore because he's still pissed about some stuff that went down with my grandma's will years ago when she died. While I supported him for a while, and still support his opinion and respect that he wants to keep his distance, I just couldn't stay away from this family that I love over something like money. It's not worth it. So, you see, I am still the odd man out.

I guess I got to thinking because of my Uncle's funeral today. He was such a great guy. Despite my own personal shortcomings or need to keep everyone at arms length, he never treated me any differently than anyone else. Did we have long conversations? No. In fact, it embarrasses me to say that I didn't even know what he did for a living until yesterday. But he always welcomed me. He always had a scratchy, bearded kiss for me. He was always sweet and welcoming and charming. And he was a beautiful person that, after hearing lots of stuff today at his funeral that I wasn't aware of, I sure wish I'd known him a whole lot better. I am ashamed that I didn't. We would have had a lot to talk about. We could have had some really great talks. But now we never can.

I want to know the other family better. I just don't know if it's too late. I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning. I want another chance. And I don't want Bam-Bam to be on the sidelines. I want him to enjoy his family. And to know them. But how?


  1. I know exactly how you feel. I'm only 18 years old right now and I've always been the odd one out too. My little branch of the family was always the odd one out. My mom never connected with the family and I'm not sure exactly why, probably something to do with her issues with drugs, and therefore I never really connected either. That probably doesn't make you feel much better about your son, but I feel where you're coming from. You're not the only one that's socially defective with the family.

  2. Dude I feel like an outcast in my family too. I'm not close to my aunts & uncles but now that I'm an aunt I want my niece to grow up thinking of me as a friend. It's never too late!

  3. I know how you feel. My uncle died a few years ago and I never relaised how much he helped ease me into family gatherings until he wasn't there to do it any more. I've never felt accepted by my family and if you've read my blog you'll understand what I'm talking about. the great thing I have come to realise is that you can have a birth family and a spiritual family. These are the friends that choose to be a vital and connected part of your life.
    I love your blog and I know how important it can be to help you work through stuff. It is for me so thanks for following me and know that you are never alone and Bam bam won't be either there are people all around you who love you and accept exactly as you are right now. xx

  4. My husband and I are kind of the same, but for different reasons. He's one of 5 kids, and we're the only ones that don't live at "home". The other 4 sibs all live within 30 minutes of my in-laws'. I got a job in another state, so we moved.

    It's been almost 8 years. And while we are still on excellent terms with everyone, it still feels a little weird when we get together at family functions. We don't know all the everyday drama that is going on with everyone (thank god).

    I just feel bad for my kids sometimes. They are 3 out of 17 grandkids on that side (obscene, I know.... but true), and they don't know many of their cousins very well. All the other kids are used to seeing each other a lot through the year, and we see them once or maybe twice a year.

    We've discussed moving home to be closer to family before, but are committed to the school we have our oldest in. Also, we like that we can handle ourselves and our family independently. Which is a lot more than I can say for some of the others. :)

  5. Maybe start with small family dinners or something. Invite them over to your place for a barbeque or maybe go the park for picnics? The idea is to get to know them slowly and take it from there. Hope I helped you a bit. Hugs to you babe. I know it's not easy.XO

  6. Dear Cousin. Firstly, I want to thank you for the kind and true words you wrote about my father. Secondly, I want to invite you to take the opportunity to get to know his widow better. She's so lonely now, and would love to get to know you better. My mom loved your dad, her little broter, so very much, and still hasn't gotten over his death. You are a connection to him, and she is a connection to him for you. It's a start, and seeing your aunt one-on-one may be the start of something great. We have always enjoyed and loved seeing you at the family gatherings, but perhaps now is the time to develop relationships one-on-one. That has always been the difference between your branch of the family and, well, the rest. We only ever saw you in large groups, while the rest of us spent huge amounts of time together just here and there, casually, with real time to talk and get to know each other. When you're in a house full of 10 to 25 people it's hard to dip beneath the surface. It's only been through the wonders of the internet that you and I have become closer, and know much of anything about each other. There simply has not been time to develope stronger ties at the parties. I won't speak for any other branch of the family, but please know that mine would be very receptive to "beefing up" the time spent together. Could we have done a better job reaching out to you? Yes. But that does not mean we don't all adores you, your husband and son. We just existed inside the nucleus, unaware that there was someone wanting in, but who didn't know how to get there. After reading your blog, I understand a lot better, and though I live hundreds of miles away, my mother and sisters do not. Maybe email my sisters what you wrote, and start real communications with them about spending more time together. You dad was a treasure, and while there is no replacing him, he does have blood family who will welcome your son into the fold of a loving family and serve as a kind of reminder of the grandfather he never knew. Equally important: you have a family. It may seem as though the larger group should have reached out more, but as in many situations, the group understands less than the individual, and we've just been living our lives, somehow unaware that there was somebody who wanted more than we were giving. We all continue to grow and change and learn with each passing year, and it's never too late to make a fresh start. Love you very much, and please consider taking a trip to see your old aunt Sharon. She'd love it, and seeing your son would lift her spirits so much. Her lovely daughters would probably stop by and situations like that will help form the building blocks of a strong, family bond, and real friendships.

  7. Oops, please don't take the comment about not speaking for other branches of the family the wrong way...editing problems. And please know that your other aunts and their families would feel the same. You are much loved, all around!