Relationships are the strangest things people have to deal with. There are so many types and so complex, it boggles the mind that we can actually establish and maintain them at all!
Family: I come from a fairly large family, with 5 siblings: three sisters and two brothers. We all get along just fine and have never had the tensions and fights that seem to be so prevalent in so many families. There is a lot of love in my family, both immediate and extended.
My parents, both smokers, both alcoholics, but both loving and always there for me, and both are now gone. They both died much too young; my dad was only 56 and died of cancer; my mum was 71, looked 150, and died of emphysema from smoking, after having survived bowel cancer. I miss them both in so many ways all of the time.
My oldest sister was killed in a motor vehicle accident 2 1/2 years ago, which rocked the family to its core. She was 4 years older than myself and we were very close. We had been more great friends since our teens than just sisters. It was a wonderful and fulfilling relationship, which was never altered by the distance between our homes (which, on occasion, was quite large). Her death has torn a piece of my heart right out of my chest, to leave me forever missing her and not really believing she is gone.
Of my other siblings, the ones that remain, I am now closest to my youngest sister. We both have no kids, we both have dogs, we have similar tastes and perspectives on life. We talk on the phone and get together with the 'kids' for play dates at the dog parks in town. We go for lunch or just hang out. She is 5 years younger than me.
The other three, well, we love each other and enjoy each other's company but just don't seem to keep in touch all that often. Two live in Alberta, so contact is phone/email/facebook most of the time.
The weirdest thing is my youngest brother lives one block from me. I almost never see him or hear from him. Not because of any ill feelings, but just because his life and mine only ever seem to really cross paths when there is a family gathering or some other event where we both show up. He has his own business and keeps odd hours. I work shift work. When I first moved to this neighbourhood last summer, I would call him. Rarely was he home, and rarely did he return my calls. Just busy with his life. So now I see him when I see him and that is about it. Makes me kind of sad, in a way, because he's a great guy and we always have fun, but it just never seems to happen.
Friends: My oldest and dearest friend lives in Texas now. She's a nurse like me.... actually she is the one who kind of talked me into becoming a nurse, in an indirect way. I love her dearly and we have known each other for 36 years. We have known each other through lots of ups and downs, moves, relationships, kids, family crap, you name it. To this day, there isn't anything I would not tell her. I don't see her often but we talk on the phone for hours at a time whenever we talk. And I mean hours! Nothing like having to peel a hot phone off your ear after four hours of yakking. Thank the gods we both have unlimited long distance!
My best friend locally I met when I sold her a horse in 1999. We knew instantly that we would be friends. It just was.... And so we have become very close, especially with my move back to Winnipeg from BC in 2003. We see each other a few times a week and talk or email often. We both have horses (well, I am down to one and she is a trainer so has several), and ride and show and just hang out at the barn together. We have very different personalities but we mesh so well and know each other so well, it is totally amazing.
Intimate Relationships: This is where things are the most complex, at least in my mind. I have had a number of long term, serious relationships. All of which have ended and right now I am on my own.
I have been in emotionally and mentally abusive relationships that I struggled through and finally had the strength to leave. I have had the horrifying experience of having one partner commit suicide. I have struggled to keep relationships alive through talking, counselling, fighting, giving in, whatever I thought or hoped would work. I have been with totally different types of men and not been able to make those work for a variety of reasons.
I have also had the experience of meeting someone who totally stole my heart, so quickly it was breath-taking, only to have him realize I was not the right woman for him. For me, he was, in many ways, the type of man I truly wanted: intelligent, articulate, warm-hearted, very caring, silly, witty, and hugely attractive to me physically (damn those pheromones, anyway!). But it seemed written in the cards that it was not to be and so I had to deal with the emotional fallout from that, which was heart-breaking.
Every relationship I have had has formed who I am today. Whether good or bad, the experiences have strengthened my character but have also taught me things. I have become more self-reliant and self-sufficient. I have learned to look more closely at myself and my actions and behaviours. I have also learned to be true to myself. Because, if you cannot be true to yourself, you cannot be true to anyone else, and you cannot have any kind of a healthy, lasting relationship with anyone without honesty and truthfulness.
So, in all honesty and truthfulness, I am grateful for all of the relationships I have had in my life, and in spite of the amount of heartache I have endured, they have made me the loving, well-balanced, kind-hearted soul I am today.
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