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The idea of Family

Discussion in 'Friends, Family & Social Skills' started by SimonSays, Sep 21, 2021.

  1. SimonSays

    SimonSays Time is an illusion I seem to have a lot of V.I.P Member

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    The idea of family has been a struggle for me all my life. From when I was growing up around my birth family, to those people I called friends, partners, wives, even people I worked with, were essentially my experience of family. I've seen the way other people’s families work, and it seems like, well, there's many variations of what can be considered family.

    When finding myself with people who are connected to other people, they became like family for a while. Spontaneous experiences of connection which are felt as family because I'm not creating it, not insisting on it, not deciding things. I'm just experiencing what I find and then something supportive and collaborative came out of it.

    I look after my family. I care about my family. I help my family; that's what family means to me. The family are my tribe, my clan.

    All those people I once experienced as family are not in my life now, for one reason or another. Relationships come and go, and I suppose friendships do as well. I used to imagine that once I found somebody I got on with, even if I didn't see them often, they always remained my friend. We liked being around each other and circumstances don't always make it possible, and sometimes long periods go by. Life happens; people get married or move to a different part of the country or even the world, and even though we can keep in touch easily, I still find that I naturally let go of keeping people in my thoughts; out of sight out of mind I suppose. Other things are focusing me in the present and as those people are not in my present, it's like they don't technically exist, until they do again. If I have something to say to someone, or I receive a message from them, then immediately I'm connected to them in the present and away we go.

    The fact that we tolerate people who are called ‘family’ just because we are related to them but don't get on or even like and generally avoid, yet sometimes can't help but see at family gatherings, is just something many go through, but they're 'family so we put up with it. I've never understood that.

    I only want to be around people I want to be around. I only want people to be around me who want to be around me, so when we get together, we connect, we click, we understand why we like to share things, can be open, speak honestly, talk about who we are, and listen to who the other person is, and we are interested in what we do and what we've done and how we think and what we say. To me, that's family, because to listen to somebody, to speak truthfully, makes me feel close to them; it's an intimacy thing and which for me creates that family feeling. It's not just that we happen to be related.

    In fact, my experience of the ones I'm related to, was always as if, well, I’m part of this so-called group of people, but they're not my family. They have no idea who I am and I can't understand who they are, even though it's typical behaviour for their world, but it isn't my world, and I don't know how to bridge the gap.

    I experienced so much of being peripheral while growing up. And yet I often feel that something is missing when I don't have people in my life, even if I always let the wrong ones go. I keep swinging like a pendulum; first completely immersing myself in an experience of family, only to find that it either blows up or I blow it up in order to experience a reality alone again; one extreme to the other.

    And when I feel myself coming back to a more balanced way, I realise that I need a combination of both. I need something in the middle. I need the feeling of solitude and aloneness, while having people that I absolutely love having in my life. I just don't know how to have that. I generally end up in the solitude camp where it's less complicated. I feel like I'm more authentic when I'm alone, even though I'm not expressing that authenticity around anybody.

    In any given moment I can feel like I’m performing, like I’m a kind of character and not a whole self, and I can feel the missing bits are there even though I can't express them. I need time to reveal myself, so that there is nothing interfering with my expression, because for me, because I spend so little time around people, I can't seem to avoid the masking protection mechanism I've deployed all my life, and yet without it I wouldn't be able to integrate easily at all. I don't know how to describe it. I can interfere with what’s taking place rather than allow what's taking place to take place.

    So in order not to let that happen, aspects of my character have to be suppressed or hidden and because they're not on show, they effectively don't exist, and all it needs is a number of experiences with people where they aren't revealed, making it almost impossible to then reveal more of me in a future moment.

    It feels incongruous with what was there before, and of course, if I'm not free to be myself, talk about myself, then I am not myself, and that's not going to work. I don't know if anyone is really ever truly themselves, but that's how I feel I have to be. I have to be real and it doesn't matter who it's with, whether I know them or not. I should be able to be who I am. And the more I know who I am the easier it is for me to be who I am.

    The issue has been, and still is... I don't know who I am. I only know how I am in different situations. If I've been that way before that's how I'm going to be next time, even if I don't necessarily feel like that, it's almost like that part of me is the most appropriate expression in connection with who you are, so I can't just appear to be someone else. You have a sense of me now, a familiarity, a label, a box to put me in; it just makes it easier to understand - this bloke is so and so, they like this, they like that, they do this, they talk about these things.

    So if you're with somebody who can be different, who finds it difficult to maintain the same form of expression, because he doesn't really know what that expression should be, any expression of the idea of me is only an idea that isn't actually true. I've just done my best in this moment. I will need to be somebody. It feels very limiting.

    I’ve not met many people who handle me well, and I've only come across a few people that I really like to be around who don't make me feel uncomfortable, and who appreciate the creative freedom in who we are. They're not hiding anything. I don't have to be anything. They are who they are and they do it the way they do it. I don't have the same freedom because I'm too aware that whatever is being perceived is only a reflection of their own level of perception, and it is not my intention to be perceived that way.

    Often I think I'm being real or having a good attempt at it, only to realise I've been perceived completely differently. I can understand how that comes to be, but there is nothing I can do about it. There’s no way to point it out. I can't try to explain how I’m ‘supposed’ to be perceived. Imagine trying to explain to somebody…oh you thought I was someone else…it's not possible to explain it.

    We would have to spend ages identifying and agreeing on our definitions and our understanding of certain words, certain concepts, our experiences of people, which gives us the feeling of knowing each other. But different experiences produce different states of knowing, and we have to reveal those so that we can compare and recognise inconsistencies that could create misunderstanding.

    All this can be done, but it would need a lot of time and willingness to do, and I suppose you could say that the people who have the most opportunity to do that are our partners, our best friends, people who live together, who have decided to make a life together, if they're the right people for each other, they can do that, it just takes time and would probably indicate a good match.

    I'm never around long enough to allow that to take place. I experience a powerful condensed version in the beginning, which seems to be enough to create the idea that we can do this, and then something gets in the way so that it doesn't actually continue into what would be a ‘good match’.

    I'm trying to understand why, and I think I'm closer to understanding, but also I accept that I might not be. It may be the only way to really do so is through relationship, which I don't have. So everything remains a theory. That's why I want to share this because it might trigger something in you to respond in a way that fills a gap for me; it's happened before and I really appreciate it. Something I hadn't thought about. It needs somebody else to do that.

    It is possible to realise quite a lot through reflection but at the end of the day it's really only in relationship that I get to see how things actually work in real life, and even if not all relationships are meant to be forever, I always learn a lot about myself.
     
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  2. Magna

    Magna Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I must admit I have not yet read your entire post. There were some key points that I identify with.

    I consider my "family" to be those who live with me in the same house (e.g. spouse, children). They are literally my family.

    I consider parents, siblings (none of which live with me) to be my extended family. I do not consider them to be my "family" any longer because I have my own family now.

    ^ My view on extended family vs. family is NOT shared by my father nor a sibling of mine. In their view, we're still just as much "family" as we were when we did live in the same house growing up; the only difference is that we just happen to live in different houses. < This view is fraught with problems because it's resulted in my father considering himself to still be the leader of our "family", the patriarch and he has always felt that he has liberty to order and direct his adult children to think like he does, act on his directives in their own lives. In short, his view of "family" has resulted in him feeling that he can direct the lives of his adult children as if they're still children. A sibling of mine (who views "family" the same way as my father does) uses that viewpoint to ignore and not respect healthy normal boundaries. Zero boundaries with those two.

    It's been very harmful to our relationship for many years actually.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
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  3. Au Naturel

    Au Naturel Au Naturel

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  4. Gerald Wilgus

    Gerald Wilgus Well-Known Member

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    Having a biological family that only muddled through my early life, not understanding or helping me besides just providing life's necessities and some enrichment, I learned that my core group of very accepting friends is the family I choose. For me it is as simple as that.
     
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  5. Ronald Zeeman

    Ronald Zeeman Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Wife kids, brothers sisters, cousins.
     
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  6. Wulven

    Wulven Active Member

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    Big family. Lots of cousins and relatives. Very few know me.
     
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  7. Ronald Zeeman

    Ronald Zeeman Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    My mother comes from a family of twelve more cousins than I can count , a number I have never meet. different county, language.
     
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  8. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    As we go thru life,we project our self. I don't perceive it as something that always changes except as we mature we project a different version of our self. These experiences with others shape our character and our outlook in general. You are the creation of all your experiences and the new ones you have yet to have. So you are redefining yourself regularly. It's kinda cool. I thank all those people who have helped me along in my lifetime.
     
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  9. Ronald Zeeman

    Ronald Zeeman Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I guess you could always argue genetics or environment influences whom or what we are.
     
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  10. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    Thanks for correcting me. Genetics, environment and those human things too add up to human alphabet soup.
     
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  11. Suzette

    Suzette Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    “Life is an illusion a dream; a bubble; a shadow… Nothing is permanent. Nothing is worthy of anger or dispute. Nothing…” ~ The Buddha

    And your perception of their perception is distorted from how they would wish for you to percieve how they percieve you. A mirror, relecting a mirror into infinity. Something familiar, yet distorted from the intentions you both set for yourselves.

    That really is quite a puzzle you have set for yourself.

    Might I make a suggestion? For your next meditation consider "Your opinion of me is not my business".
    There is incredible lightness in letting go of being responsible for the thoughts of others.
    I put that quote from Buddah up there because it gets to the heart of these questions of perception.
    You are the only person who will spend your whole life with you. No one else. Just you. These others come and go, friends, family, it does not matter. They are temporary players in your life. And their thoughts, to the extent that they think on you at all, is more temporary still. Fleeting, impermanent, distorted by their experiences (just as you say). And if anyone percieves you exactly as you intend to be percieved, you would never notice as your own attention is drawn into a new view of yourself, and thus a new desire to be percieved in a new way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2021
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  12. SimonSays

    SimonSays Time is an illusion I seem to have a lot of V.I.P Member

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    Oh I agree, but I think you may have misunderstood me here. Which is understandable given how long the OP was.

    It is not their opinion of me that is the problem. What I'm trying to get at is... in attempting to be in relationship, I am often seen as somebody that I'm not, and so if I'm going to make it work, if it is in my power to do so, I wish to be seen as myself. The issue is that I notice when I'm not being understood, and now I'm in a sort of quandary. Do I just accept it when there may be something I can do? Do I just accept it because this is how it tends to be? Is there something I can learn about the way I'm interacting that might avoid a similar situation in the future? Or should I just give up on the idea of relationship altogether and be alone?

    I often come to think the latter, but whether I am good at it or not, we are social creatures or at least we are meant to be. I feel like I'm meant to be involved with people and because there is a struggle in achieving that, it may come across as 'your opinion of me matters'. I can't tell you how many times that has been said to me. Just another example of the misunderstanding I experience.
     
  13. Au Naturel

    Au Naturel Au Naturel

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    You may have a very narrow definition of what constitutes "real." The narrower that definition is, the more difficult it is to adapt. The "real" you is always 50% what you bring to the plate and 50% what the world throws at you.
     
  14. SimonSays

    SimonSays Time is an illusion I seem to have a lot of V.I.P Member

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    I disagree. There is another saying along these lines...

    The trouble is, at least in my case, I won't let the world tell me, even though it wants to.
    Which means I have to bring more of me to the plate. I have to bring my true self. I have to know who that is.
     
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  15. Suzette

    Suzette Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    @SimonSays, I see. Yes, I did misunderstand that section of your post.

    But, after thinking on it, I don't think I can advise differently than I did in my first post. "What you think of me is not my business". I say this because no matter what people think of you, YOU do not change. You are as you will be no matter how another percieves you.

    Everything else is simply a matter of clarifying for better communication.

    I know a woman who seems to frequently twist what I say into something I didn't say and always at the detriment of my reputation (amongst others). For example, one time I told her that I don't drink much because, given my families genetic predispostion to alcoholisim, it was prudent to not play roulette with drinking.

    To me this is simply stating I made a choice.

    But at a dinner with another couple she told them "Suzette doesn't drink because she has a problem with alcohol". That makes me sound like an alcoholic!

    I simply corrected her. "I did not say I have a problem, I said I made a choice to not drink so I don't ever have a problem".

    I have no idea what the other couple thought of this, I didn't ask. I told MY perspective. What they did with it is up to them.
     
  16. Suzette

    Suzette Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Regarding knowing who you are: You are not at the whim of some will-o-the-whisp. You are exactly as you choose to be. The concept of YOU is self determined. You can pick and choose amongst infinate choices. I don't mean the "labels" that you offfer about yourself. I mean your character. That part is the "real you" and you get to make all of the desicions about who you are.
     
  17. SimonSays

    SimonSays Time is an illusion I seem to have a lot of V.I.P Member

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    Actually, I'm not sure that's true. Let me see if I can clarify...

    In my experience, I have a tendency, ever since I can remember being alive, to be able to calibrate to the other person. Which essentially means adjust my frequency. This may very well be a kind of character flaw, but it does mean that I can change based on who they are.

    I believe that I have always done this in order to connect in some way, because there is no point expecting to experience connection to come out of a conflicting position.

    It seems there are different levels of calibration... and if I'm lucky to be around someone where there is a good vibrational match, I feel like I can be more 'myself' then if I'm around someone whose core beliefs differ tremendously. In my experience few people match me, and even then not for long.

    Perhaps that's what drives certain individuals to live the hermit life. They are just better being on their own. It may be that I am too.

    I'm not sure that's true for me. I understand the concept of reinventing myself, but in order to make decisions about who I am, based on what my character is like, I have to know what decisions I can make. I have to know who I am first to make the right decisions to be who I am.

    Isn't character formed from experience? Is it a combination of nature and nurture? I feel like I'm a fluid, evolving, being, experiencing moments of realisation, while living in a world that rarely reflects it to me. If I just do what feels right for me, the more alienated and isolated I seem to become, as I deal with unexpected reaction or disappointment, when somebody discovers I'm not who they thought I was. Not that who they now see is bad, it just conflicts with their idea, which is jarring and creates a cognitive dissonance.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2021
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  18. SimonSays

    SimonSays Time is an illusion I seem to have a lot of V.I.P Member

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    I like this example. And in this instance you were to understand the level of her mis-perception. Strange as it might be that she could twist it like that, making it appear far different to how you had explained it, she revealed it in a way that allowed you to correct it.

    So I wonder how many examples could have been given that simply went misunderstood or mis-perceived without you being aware of them? I'm sure that in my case there are many such instances.

    I do come across them occasionally where I discover that something has been said or understood to be true that isn't and only I can correct it. The vast majority simply go unnoticed and just become the truth. That's why it can sometimes be hard to know where things originate from. A small deviation in our perceived understanding of the timeline and we are off in completely different directions without knowing why.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2021
  19. Bibliophile715

    Bibliophile715 host/main - first system member - any pronouns

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    I think that family is more than just relatives. I live with an older sibling, a mom, and a dad. My sibling I would die for since he's nice, even as we aren't friends anymore due to his hyperfixations being very different from mine. My parents like to know everything I'm doing, so I tell them (apart from going beyond basics of my interests), and I'm around my mom a lot of the time since I have more in common with her. I don't have other family nearby because they live far away from us, they would take over a day to drive to. The nearest one is my aunt, who is three hours away, and she doesn't even know I'm not straight because many of my relatives have very little knowledge of anything lgbt as they're of an older generation. Some of them don't like that me and my brother are autistic because some of them are neurotypicals who don't understand autistics.

    I have online friends who fully understand what I've gone through because they've gone through similar things, so I get the majority of your meaning of wanting to talk to others who are similar. I believe that family can also be found rather as well as being related to people because sometimes others don't have good family experiences. You should get to experience full communication with someone, who doesn't make you uncomfortable for how you talk and what you want to talk about. My family may not share many of the same interests as me, but I'm close to mine. I try to be nice to them because my situation could get a whole lot worse if I wasn't.

    Since I have chronic pain, my mom is more into natural remedies than prescribed medications. Which I'm thankful for because I don't want to be permanently stuck taking one that isn't absolutely necessary. If I ask to go to the ER during a bad pain flare for pain relief through meds that they have there, she feels really bad, so I'm nicer to her so she can feel a bit better. Sometimes I may draw things or be by her until she's able to fall asleep. I tolerate my family because I love them platonically, and if I'm away from them for over a few hours I start to miss them so badly it hurts my stomach even if I'm upstairs. I can understand those who are less close to their families, but I need to be around mine for hours every single day.
     
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  20. SusanLR

    SusanLR Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    This is why we wear the mask and try to calibrate to the other person.
    At least that's how I've felt about everyone in the world.

    I agree with the idea that YOU, yourself, will be the only one that you will be with from birth to death.
    So you can be yourself without thinking about what others think or how they will react when it's just you.
    But, the quandry is that there is a feeling of something missing that feels incomplete without others
    unless you truly are the hermit type that feels complete with just self.

    As far as feeling of family, for me it had nothing to do with blood relations. I have many of those
    that I've never met and those I have I did not feel I could just be myself around without the mask
    or trying to be what I thought they expected I should be.
    That is not comfortable and doesn't feel like "family."

    If you could have someone or more than one who has lived with you since birth and there were
    never any feelings of needing to mask or present as anything except just being natural,
    then that would be comfortable, feel like family and the feeling of HOME we have spoken of.
    I was lucky enough to have that with my immediate family, (parents).
    I was also an only child so there were no siblings to get along with or not get along with.
    The three of us were able to be just as we wanted without anyone being the ruler of the pack.
    No demands to each other and freedom to be and do as wanted.
    Imagine having 53 years of being in this state of being self without being alone.

    Now it is just me, so I feel alone in a world of people, because I don't know anyone from birth
    nor do they know me.
    This is why I never made a family of my own as you would call it.
    Living with someone who you will never truly know is like being with anyone you feel you
    need to mask to be around else expectations arise and time may find you were wrong in the
    way you see them or they see you.
    It never felt comfortable, like family or like home living with anyone else.
    Yet, as you state, there is an emptiness that only being with another can fulfill.
    I am not happy totally alone, but, cannot be comfortable or feel at home with any other.
    Yes, the conundrum!
     
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