Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rebuilding Bridges (Hopefully)

I consider myself blessed.

My wife is beautiful, the cooling breeze for all my soul's dog days. My children are healthy, intelligent and curious. We have a home; I've got employment. We're well-fed and able to pursue our interests.

But one thing is missing: peace.

Don't get me wrong, our home is peaceful. From the beginning of our relationship Lily and I both insisted upon a policy of "no yelling" when we disagree or argue. We deliberately stay cool. And after 5 + years of no contact with any members of my family whatsoever, I'm on the road to resolving the internal and external conflicts that created the rift. A peaceful existence and repaired relationships are two of my highest priorities.

Then why do I still fly off the handle in certain situations? Why do I still react so emotionally whenever I feel I have been slighted in even the most minor way, only to regret my angry words later? Or why do my children's naughtinesses - normal for their age - get on my nerves so badly?

The answer is obvious: habit.

I grew up in a family of four. My brother was always a go-getter, a thrill seeker. I was always described as the "calm one." But all that changed when he got in that infamous wreck of his. Whenever I became angry over the least little thing I made no effort to control the emotion. I let it rip and picked up the pieces later.

In the long run it led to many broken friendships and family relations. Now I want to mend my ways and make peace with anyone and everyone I hurt in the past.

Why?

Sometimes I'm ruled by emotion. When that happens, it always turns out poorly, and I end up regretting things.

In the past I rarely considered the feelings of others. But in 2004 I met a girl who made me feel that life was truly worth living, and that I could overcome any and all obstacles, not the least of which is myself.

Living with someone and truly loving them means that you lose yourself in them. Suddenly the thoughts and feelings of others are precious jewels you want to possess and take care of. Your actions and the effect you have on others are illuminated.

In 2009 my first child was born. The following year we had another. When a parent commits to raising children, he truly must learn to live for someone else. And though it can be frustrating at times, a true parent is able to put aside his or her own wishes and wants for the sake of what's best for the children.

Earlier this year I stopped working in a plant (a manufacturer of electrical distribution devices for theatrical lighting) so that I could become "my brother's keeper." Once again I feel blessed. I am awarded the opportunity to truly work for someone else's good.

All of these experiences have made me think more about family and the choice to commit to it. Again I am blessed, for I have a large family with many aunts, uncles and cousins. After this long absence, I want to be a part of my family again and hope they will forgive me of all my past offenses. I want to be there for them emotionally, to offer whatever support I can. I don't have any advice to give.

But I'm a good listener.