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Day 8–Residue

We all have it from birth. I believe we are born with residue from our parents and the families from which we come. This residue can be called genetic but I see it as more encompassing. It does have a physical component, emotional body, spiritual body , mind-body, soul body. It is on all that we are. At different points in our life, the residue is thicker than others.  It can impact choices of careers, partners, and how we replicate the mistakes or dysfunctions of our family of origin. What is your residue? What consistency is it? How has it impacted your life? How is it the same residue from your family of origin and how is it different.

I was watching the new Rosie O’Donnell show and she had Jane Fonda on. These days, Jane is everywhere—at least for me during this time. Both were discussing, the process of letting go of the pain of childhood and blaming parents and reframing their lives and breaking cycles of dysfunction.

Currently, the residue my sister and I share from both my parents is why we are not talking. I don’t blame them, I am accountable for my actions for my residue. My sister is younger and has been angry at me for most of her life. I am now 37 and she is 30. On the surface, she tells me it is because I have not taken care of my mother and treated her well.  While my mother and I have talked through these issues, and continue to do so my sister has broken off all communication. I have offered to bring in a therapist. I have asked that all three of us sit down with one and talk it all out. I got a resounding no on all fronts.

My sister and I grew up with parents who did not talk with their own siblings and constantly fought. At this point, little is left of the extended family relationships.  A part of me wants to stop trying. Stop communicating and just let it be. Another part thinks I should. The concept of feeling like one should do anything is a flag. It needs to come from the heart. I love my sister and my mother and that will never change.

The amount of time we spend together in this life, in this configuration is not clear. All I can do is love them whether they are close or far. Forgive them and clear my own residue.  In different stages of my attempts to work things out with my sister, I wrote a poem about being sorry. Sorry for not protecting her from whatever happened that she blames me for. Sorry for not being the sister she wants. Then I started to list every time I teased her when she was little. Then I realized that it just doesn’t matter.  One has to be ready to accept forgiveness and accept who each other is and isn’t.

I vividly remember a wake for my mother’s Aunt Helen. I remember back at the house when everyone was eating and drinking. My mother screaming at her brother for calling her “brown teeth” when she was little. My mother was 43 years old and still hurt and we had to abruptly leave.–Residue

About Joy Rain

Joy has been a diversity and inclusion consultant and mediator for over ten years. Prior to consulting, she was professor of Psychology and Women Studies. Joy has a Master of Arts in Psychology (Boston University) and a Master of Education in Social Justice Education (UMASS Amherst).


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