Mend Fences: To improve or repair a relationship that has been damaged by an argument or disagreement.
In recent weeks, I’ve shared how my life looked as I was growing up. It feels so good to reminisce about the good times, but let’s face it, sometimes, there is an ugly truth that behind closed doors things are not always as they appear to be to outsiders. When I was growing up, we were told that whatever happens at home, stays at home and that was a motto that we lived by every day. My mother didn’t have to repeat it a million and one times because I got it the first time around.
Growing up, my sister, Pam, (who, by the way, is the middle child) and I were extremely close. No one was ever going to pick on her except me (and, unfortunately, there was a time where I did a lot of that). However, that job was reserved for me and me alone.
Sadly, over the years, our relationship was pretty much dead except for when she came to town or the few phone calls here and there or the yearly Christmas cards that I would send her. Our differences in lifestyles and lack of understanding and the unwillingness to agree to disagree got in the way of our relationship — our sisterhood. I don’t know what happened or why it changed (I’m grateful that it did), but over the past year we have been as thick as thieves. We share a lot about our lives, and even talk about the past — the good and the not so good. We talk about the mental scars that we incurred as growing up. Even though we have gotten over them, some of the scars remain; however, we don’t let them dictate our lives or the women we have become today. She now calls herself my “little big sister” because she has more experience about some of life’s issues than I do. Let’s just say, sometimes, I feel like I’ve been living under a rock as life passed me by. What I’m good at, I’m really good at. However, what I’m bad at… Where she was daring, I was afraid and would only go so far because fear held me back. We took separate paths and roads in life, but that’s what made us who we are today.
Bonding: The formation of a close relationship (as between a mother and child or between a person and an animal), especially through frequent or constant association.
When my oldest daughter, Gabrielle, was growing up, she and I never had a bonding for whatever reason. As a child, she wasn’t the huggy, feely type, and quite honestly, as her mom, I didn’t know what to do with that, so, sadly, I did absolutely nothing. I know it sounds terrible and some of you may be thinking, “Wow, what kind of mother does that?”. I would probably think the same thing if the shoe were on the other foot; however, I always want to be honest with you, my readers, with the hope that someone might benefit from my experiences Trust me, not having a relationship with my daughter is one of the biggest regrets of my life. After all, I was the parent and she was the child. It was my responsibility to fix the relationship. Whenever, I went to her school to volunteer, she would hide behind her friends or act as though she didn’t see me. Sometimes, I would call her out; other times, I ignored the situation. However, I was really hurt. My other two children were the polar opposite; they wanted everyone to know I was their mother and wanted me to meet and get to know all of their friends. The relationship I had with them was so easy, so I let Gabrielle slip through the cracks. Unfortunately, I don’t think either one is us knew what to do with the other back then; however, today, I can say that I thank God for growth and maturity on both of our parts. Hence, 20 something years later, we now have a relationship for which I’m extremely grateful. Do we talk everyday? No, we don’t. However, when we do get together we have very meaningful, thought provoking conversations, and thoroughly enjoy being in one another’s company. I told her the other day that I was proud of the woman she was becoming. She asked me why, and I spelled it all out. She smiled and said, “Thank you”. I texted her the next day and told her that I took pleasure in our time together at her place, and she said anytime and she would cook dinner for me. Woohoo! I never turn down food, LOL! This would never have happened in the past. I’m really thankful because some relationships are never mended and, when people pass on, the relationship remains broken. Gabrielle or “Gabby,” as people call her, has become a very strong woman. She doesn’t take any stuff and can be quite tough, when necessary. She has come into her own and has now taken her rightful place as the big/oldest sister, and, might I add, she is wearing it well! She has come to her younger sister’s aide quite a bit lately, and has even helped her brother in his time of need.
I don’t mention Gabrielle as often as I do my other two children, but it doesn’t mean that I love her any less. I’m pleased to put the spotlight on her today, and I am mighty proud to be her mom.
If you don’t have a great relationship or a relationship at all with your family members, it’s not too late, even if it seems as though it’s been a lifetime. I’m a living testament of that. We wish for things and we pray for things to be different, but I don’t think we always expect the change to come.
If you’re missing the relationship that you once had or the bonding is gone, reach out. You don’t have to be stubborn. Take the high road, as a counselor that I used to see would always say. If everyone leaves it up to the other party to resolve whatever differences that may have led to the tearing down of the fence, things will never be resolved. However, if you’ve reached out a number of times and the person doesn’t respond or isn’t interested in rebuilding the relationship, sadly, there is nothing you can do. I have a cousin that was like another sister to me. A number of years ago, she disappeared out of my life. I reached out to her via telephone, letters, and cards. About four years ago, I was given her current phone number. I called her and we talked and cried about how we missed each other. She vowed she would stay in touch, but she hasn’t. I reached out to her again roughly two years ago, and she said some things that I didn’t expect and weren’t true; however, they were her truth. At that point, I knew there was nothing else humanly possible that I could do. However, I miss her terribly. The funny thing is we had no argument. Everything was going extremely well, and then one day like a puff of smoke, she was gone — without warning.
I’d like to give a special thanks to one of my best friends who came up with the topic. As a result of me sharing things with him, he saw things that I didn’t regarding the growth and rebuilding of my family. However, as he broke it all down, I had what Oprah would call an “Aha” moment.
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