Since I'm on Spring Break, I seized the opportunity to go home to Connecticut for a few days. I never thought I'd reach this point in my life where I actually enjoy visiting my family, it isn't that I don't love my family, it has been a real struggle to get where we are today and believe me, we have a long way to go still! As some of you may know, addictions of any sort are not fun to have around, in fact it can make life unbearable and very unhappy. It has taken me many, many years to figure this out, but it wasn't until last fall that I just accepted the fact that I can not change the situation, I can only change me and how I respond to it. This has been a very liberating experience for me and in my opinion has helped my relationships, especially with my family. By no means am I encouraging enabling the addict-for I have always refused to do that.
In my family everyone carries a title; Uncle R, Auntie N, Cousin M, Nonni, Grandma D, etc...and in some cases we use these familial titles with some whom we are not even related, which signifies our special bond and closeness. I'm blessed with two very beautiful and smart nieces and so far, I thank God for them seemingly being able to be well-adjusted. They are not full of themselves, nor do they do the status-quo, they are individuals-they think! Once of my nieces is a freshman in hs and the other is in the 6th grade. My first night in CT, I took both of them to Barnes and Noble for a Frapp, some conversation and to check out some books. We had a great time, I love to hear their stories and see them interact. I'm often reminded of how my older brother and I often fought, but at the end of the day I knew he had my back and I his. I asked by brother if he'd cook a nice dish of macaroni and have my mom, aunt and me over for Sunday dinner since I can't remember the last time we did this. The older I get, the more nostalgic I get. While at dinner a family friend stopped by, Uncle R. He is not biologically related to us, and although I've known my nieces refer to him as Uncle R, it bothered me when in my presence they'd call him "uncle," since I'm the only one they call uncle, at least when I'm around. I adjusted and abdicated said title and in my selfish way knew that "uncle" is much more profound when meant for me. In comparison to my aunts and uncles I'm a terrible uncle to my nieces. If it weren't for my father's sister I may not even be where I am today. She was my everything-my mother, my advocated in some crazy times. My mother's sister also is and was of great influence to me and was more emotionally there for me than perhaps my own mother.
On the way back to DC, I FINALLY stopped in NYC to visit my cousin M. She has been inviting me for years to come and spend the weekend and even trying to get me to move there. I met M at Grand Central Station and her first words were, "awww....my handsome cousin." A greeting with my title "cousin." For us, it is not a formality, but a recognition of love. You are not just anybody, you are MY cousin, MY brother, MY uncle, MY niece, the titles concretize what we all know and make real our relationships-these relationships are unchangeable not matter what. I will forever be cousin, uncle, brother, son; I will forever be called "love."