I love my extended family. Sometimes though I really don’t understand them. I have refrained from talking about my extended family on this blog, despite, at times, really wanting too. The reason for resisting discussion is that I know some of my family read this blog. I also know how easily the written word can be misinterpreted. That, without facial expression and nuance, it is all to easy to take offence.

The second reason for holding back is that, at times, I would have been writing from anger. It is my experience that writing in anger and publishing those words on the internet is a bad idea. Jobs have been lost, relationships irreparably damaged, just not a good idea, ok.

However today I am going to talk about my extended family. I am the daughter of an alcoholic father who eventually drank himself to death. He died when I was in my early twenties leaving me with a whole mess of reactions to deal with. For most the seven stages of grief, for me I think it was about fifteen.

Then there is my mum. My mum and I have never really been close. This is strange because we lived  alone together for ten years. She and I are very different people with a very different approach to life. I love her very much but I don’t really understand her, I suspect she feels the same way.

I have a sister, she and I don’t get on, and we are no longer involved in each others lives. Its for the best, but its sad that this is the case.

I have a brilliant relationship with my grandmother. I think it is reasonably easy to have a great relationship with a grandmother. You never lived together and they only see the good in you, and you in them. Also it is their job to spoil you and this is bound to lead to fond memories. Add to this the fact that my Granny is pretty awesome anyway (open minded, loving, young spirited) and it has been pretty cool being her granddaughter. I am glad for the things she has taught me, and the confidence in myself she instilled.

I used to think I was particularly unfortunate having such complicated relationships with my nearest and dearest. I have shed many tears wishing that those closest to me, genetically, understood me better. Recently though I have realised that the phrase ‘you can choose your friends but not your family’ is entirely accurate. Families are groups of people thrown together by genetics often with very different temperaments, and beliefs.

You have shared experience, and love which bonds you together but if you agree on things you are particularly lucky. I’m not alone in having a complicated family, I’m in the majority. This makes me feel better.

So if your fighting with your Dad or your Aunties haven’t spoken for years , don’t worry. If on the other hand you have great relationships within your family, cherish them, they are very valuable.

My Granny with my boys.