In the blood
For anyone that knows me, you know that I have more than a slight fan-crush on John Mayer. Ok, it's a huge fan-crush, but that's beside the point. And, I realize that he has quite the reputation for being the bad guy/ladies man and he gets a negative rap for it. But have you ever really listened to his music? I like to think it really shows the person that he truly is, which because I don't know him directly, could just be that he's a great storyteller. I think it's more than that but I'll let you form your own opinion.
For a great example of his amazing storytelling, you just have to listen to Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967 from his album Born and Raised. I spent quite a while trying to figure out if this was based on someone's real life. There is a truly fascinating story in this song. Go ahead, listen to the words. You won't be disappointed.
But fast forward to his latest album, The Search for Everything. When I first heard the song, In the Blood, it stopped me in my tracks. Why? Because it hits all the notes of what I, and perhaps, a lot of other people experience when they're trying to navigate their lives. Who am I becoming? How responsible are we for the people we ultimately become? Are we doomed because our parents get divorced and we're left to look for other examples of happy, fulfilling relationships? We're left to figure out if a happy, connected family exists beyond our own personal experience. Or, are we permanently broken because of the blood line of our own family. Are the life choices that we make in the blood or is it really up to us?
Bam! Hit me like a ton of bricks! This song brings up everything that those of us with divorced or broken families think - all the time or at least on occasion - when we're trying to navigate our own relationships. And it's not just about finding that one true love. It's about the dynamics of family and what makes a family, well, a family. It's about relationships, any number of them. Even the one that you have with yourself.
I need to preface this next part to protect those that may think this is about them. I have a beautiful, loving family and 99% of you are NOT included in this personal exploration. I have a large family. Some I talk to everyday and some I connect with on Facebook or exchange Christmas cards and some I rarely see but when we do, it's like family "magic". I'm thankful for all of these relationships. This next part is about those that were supposed to be nearest and dearest to me and, in my case either just left or destroyed the family that we once knew.
Now, I certainly don't have all the answers but what I have realized for myself is that no family or relationship is the same. What works for one person does not necessarily work for the other. The true challenge is to identify what works for you. And well, that can be hard.
You have the pressure to, as some people say, do the right thing. What does that even mean? If someone hurts you but they're related to you, are you still required to continuously put up with the hurt? It took me a l-o-n-g time to figure this one out for myself and well, I don't think so. Of course you're forgiving but do you have to go back for more? Do you have to repeat a negative pattern that, possibly, generations of families have lived through over and over again? For what? Certainly not for happiness. And guess what? I'm here to be happy. I'm here to teach my children that happiness and love are all that matters. And if it breaks the mold, if it goes against the grain, if it's in the blood and it doesn't work for you - change it!
This bridge is a hard one to cross. Whether it's finding the love of your life, creating your own family, or at times, walking away from those that deeply hurt you. You have to trust and be honest enough with yourself to figure that out. It was the hardest thing I ever did.
It doesn't have to be a complete loss or tragedy. My true family? Well, I have a dad and a sister that have loved me through it all. No matter what. They may not agree with every one of my life's decisions but they always support me. It's all I need. My husband and kids - well, they mean everything. We created a life, a family together. A family that I treasure and fought hard to have (I'll share that another time). All of this is now in my blood and that I will not seek to change.
In the Blood can be the greatest gift or a ghost that can haunt you. I found that you have to be honest enough with yourself to choose your path, your bridge, and ultimately your happiness.
So, thank you JM for saying what so many of us feel.