Blood is not thicker than water.
Many times over the years of my life, I hear from time to time, that blood is thicker than water. I have always understood this to mean that the blood of family is a stronger tie, than the water of any other connection that is not family.
Well basically, this is just bullshit.
It’d be a nice thing if it wasn’t bullshit in a sense, that you could actually always count on your family standing in the gap for you. That you could know, no matter how much you get it wrong, how many times you make the same mistake that the love and care of your family would hold. And I suppose in some families it does, but I don’t believe it is anything like as common as what the neat little maxim of blood being thicker than water leads us to believe.
I made a choice to go non contact with my immediate family nearly 20 years ago. I can count on one hand the number of times I have had contact with them since. The blood in my family has never been thicker than water, not least when it has come to me personally.
My father, is a mean, nasty, abusive, angry, and horrible man. The decision to go no contact with him was not such a hard choice. What was difficult, was the resultant non contact with the remainder of my family my mother and two siblings. That was a lot tougher.
My mother, became in many respects very similar to my father, my relationships with my siblings were always fraught. I had hoped that somehow the remaining members of my family would somehow be able to compartmentalise and maintain some relationship with me without an expectation of relationship with the horrid human that is my father.
I was completely wrong about that. No contact with my father meant no contact with any of them. It’s something of an impossibility to unpack what is going on with that, all the whys and how’s and co-dependencies and everything that goes on with all that.
Going no contact was the absolute best thing I could do in the situation I was in for the preservation of my life, the preservation of my mental health and the ability to grow as a human and become a better human unfettered by the chains of connection with a toxic family.
The thing about no contact though, is it’s really real, and it does in fact really hurt. And life as we know it shoves in our face on many occasions throughout every year we exist that because of the choice we made we have to grieve that loss all over again.
Blood is not thicker than water, not a chance, but it is thick, and it does tie us strongly to a group of other humans, whether we like it or not.
Going no contact, the act itself was not that hard. It was in fact an easy choice to make, when that thing that happened, that thing that made it abundantly clear that the situation was irredeemable. That act of saying do not contact me again, that in itself was easy.
Over the approximately 20 years of no contact with these people I have learned a few things. One of them is that the grief of losing that family is relived again and again and again.
And so the list could go on. It is as though the pain of the loss of a situation where blood really was thicker than water, rises itself up again every time one of these significant events occur. And these are just a few of the predictable situations, the situations you can be ready for, with an answer when asked about those situations by others.
The really had part, at least for me, is the unpredictable moments. That moment in a cafe or restaurant and looking over and seeing multiple generational gatherings of family who clearly care for and love each other.
Those situations where acquaintances and friends, are able to ask their family for help, when it comes to childcare, financial help, being there when you’re sick or injured.
Those situations where you see your friends receive cards and gifts randomly from their families.
Those situations where you see sisters having relationships that are healthy, supportive and mutually beneficial for each other.
Of course, one only looks in to these situations, as through a rose coloured glass, but what these situations tend to do, well for me at least, is to slap me again with the reality that my family is and was an experience of abuse and pain and that I don’t have what I see others have. That I never did.
In a sense, it is like re-experiencing a cycle of grief in a short compressed space of time on a regular basis.
It’s not the same as when a person physically dies, it would be presumptuous to think it was, it does have similarity, death and finality of a relationship, a connection and a shared future.
And so, yes, I do think it is a grief experience, and a grief experience that is reencountered often and with regularity. There’s a difference though, and I think that difference at least in some way, is the presence of hope.
Hope, hope for and hopes dashed. Time and again. Every. Single. Time.
When each birthday comes around, hope longed for that it could be different, that change could have occurred. But no every single time that hope is dashed and I plunge back into the grief swirling with images and memories of all the painful past, yet again.
Blood is thicker than water, it’s a nice ideal, but in reality it’s bullshit, a line used to keep people in line, to sell a lie that just because your related to someone you owe them more than someone you have chosen to develop a friendship, relationship, love for.
No blood is not thicker than water, and everytime I hear that line, it conjures up memories, images playing on the screen of my mind, not images of joy and fun and care and safety, but of trauma, pain, loss and realisation that this thing called family, that was supposed to protect and nurture and grow me into the best human I could be in every sense failed abysmally.
When people go no contact, they don’t do it lightly. It is a decision to protect themselves, to promote their wellbeing and growth, to escape toxic situations.
We don’t need to be told blood is thicker than water, we don’t need to be sold a false hope that maybe things could be healed. We do enough of that to ourselves on a regular basis.
When someone tells you they have gone no contact, just accept that it was a thing they needed to do. Don’t question it, criticise it or try to suggest it might just be for a little while and people change.
Really, just don’t. Accept that the person made that decision for very real reasons, and understand that it is an easy thing, it’s actually very fucking hard to see it through.