See the link for more: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/family-feuds-when-bonds-are-broken/
Where to start?
I recently caught the program linked above on CBS Sunday Morning a few weeks ago, and a handful of the comments made therein gave me fresh impetus to talk, to think new thoughts. But like many thoughts shared here, I don’t have either a clear conclusion or even well-researched questions and findings. However, I do have these new thoughts opening corners of my heart and mind not previously opened.
I wonder now if I’m not hardwired for estrangement.
According to the expert in the clip, 27% of Americans are estranged from their family. Also, according to the expert, Americans don’t talk about it much. There is a perception that divulging to friends that your son hasn’t spoken to you in ten years causes your friends to think, “What is wrong with you?” Which, they do.
What are the ties that bind? Where are they?
The clip lends some insight to such questions, but to my recollection it did not address them head-on. Apparently, estrangement is catalyzed especially with differences in religious views.
Did you hear that?
Yeah. Express a different view somehow attached to religion, and the odds of a break in fellowship shoot sky high.
I presume we could say that for politics too.
I sense this is particularly an American problem. Perhaps not uniquely, but still… particularly.
I was born approximately 100 years after the Civil War, born during the year Tom Brokaw called the most divisive since the Civil War. And though I am in no way contemporary with those who lived through it, I recall old people from my youth lamenting even still just over 100 years later that the Civil War had pit brother against brother.
As a youth, I didn’t appreciate that to the fullest. But now I do. Family members divided up over questions such as slavery, took up arms, and killed one another because of them. Then after the dust had settled, even after a whole century had passed, one of the remarks about that painful time was the way it pitted brother against brother.
That probably says something about something.
I am estranged from much of my family. I was estranged from my mother, the person I was closest with when growing up, however I patched that up before she died. I am estranged from my sister and her kids. My dad is estranged from my sister. He is estranged from his sister, and really, so am I.
I am estranged from my church. Most of my Christian brothers and sisters have shunned me and do not return emails, phone calls, text messages at all. The few who do connect suffer the connection (mostly). So do I.
It is a cold hard world when estranged.
The pandemic has put me in estrangement with my wife’s kids, and we used to be very close.
But you know what? I was once married to another who left me years ago when she announced she was agnostic. (Religious differences?) I did not shun her, leave her, or send her packing, but when she finally decided to leave me, some of my brothers from church quickly counseled me to “let her go,” citing I Corinthians 7:15.
I did, and she is thoroughly out of my life today.
Ironically, I think now that despite how biblical that counsel was, there is something more than irony at work in the fact that those same brothers shun me now too.
And how did I ever get into a marriage with an agnostic to begin with?
Well, that is a complex question, some of the details too personal to air out on a blog, but I will say this much: our little relationship was born, like a bad country song, into a culture that pit two lovers against the world. It was definitely NOT an arranged marriage. It was barely celebrated by our families at all. And, in fact, at one low point early on, my grandfather counseled her to leave me then because dragging it out for years on end would be more painful.
He was a church leader, and that was his counsel for my young wife!
What if it had been an arranged marriage?
We would not have indulged all the American freedoms of finding our own mates, and it would not have been some consumerist whimsical experience, but rather our parents would have come together in agreement, drawing the rest of the village into it to bear witness and support it too. We would have been given to one another as a special gift from God and our parents to be celebrated and honored by all present at the ceremony.
Instead, it was me and her against the world.
The world won.
But I am estranged from all my old school mates too. I can’t think of the last time I spoke to my best friend from high school. He lives in a different state, pays a mortgage, raises a family, works in a career I don’t understand, and I likewise go a different a different direction from him – and from practically all the others I valued so dearly 35 years ago. Some I have trouble remembering now.
Wow, come to think of it, I remember that camping trip at Quality Waters just down stream from the dam that last night of the summer after graduation. I think there was at least 20 classmates present still, and come morning light, more than half would be boarding airplanes, loading up in vans, or hitchhiking out of town to pursue American Dreams in college, the Army, or LA music scene. The next weekend, and all the rest would be gone too.
I remember sitting in Trent’s hot tub out back of his parents’ house one night the previous winter with a bunch of kids and talking about not seeing each other for twenty years. I remember the angst in our voices. We were so young, yet destined to split up and go our separate ways. I think Trish was there, Shawn, and at least four or five others now who I can’t even remember their names!
It makes me sad to think that.
We were hardwired for it.
And I went out and developed some religious ideas. Turns out they are not the ties that bind!
And lost all my friends to the world of American Dreaming or apostacy.
I bet there are some root causes of addiction and homelessness bound up in all that which no one ever talks about.