I grew up in a small suburb of Detroit and then when I was in grade school, we moved to Houston, Texas. And of course, right after my college graduation, I moved to LA myself and the rest is history.
I have incredibly fond memories of my childhood in Michigan. My mother has a ton of family there, I loved my school and loved my friends.
My father’s family was much smaller, but my grandparents lived in Canada and I loved to visit them and their place on Lake Erie (I believe it was Erie? My Michigan studies are failing me). My grandmother had an affinity for flowers and gardens and hers would have put most to shame. I miss my father, his sister and my grandmother deeply as they all died too young. I didn’t know my grandfather very well.
We lived on a little street right down the road from my school, so we walked to school each day. We played outside with our friends (shocking!) until the street lights came on and throughout my many activities in school and Girl Scouts, I actually sold items door-to-door consistently.
As a child, you imagine how things “will be” when you’re older. You wonder about the future and once everyone is grown up, married, have their own kids and the events that we will all take part in and celebrate together.
What you imagined and the reality has a tendency to differ. Greatly.
The friends you had at that age, as we grew older we realized we didn’t really have much in common. I always wrote letters and really tried to keep those friends even after we moved to Texas. But after time, they slowly leave your life. But I never forgot them. I envy (in a healthy way) those that have had the same friends since they were young. That is a gift.
With my family, I never imagined things being as they are today. I expected that friendships may grow apart, but family is supposed to be different.
My immediate family is great. And I am still quite close to a few relatives. And there are others that we exchange photos and jokes on Facebook, which seems to be the new norm.
Everyone has their own day-to-day and on one hand Facebook is a godsend to remain in-touch, even if it’s as simple as a “like”. Who can afford to travel across the country to various states each year? I certainly can’t, so Facebook is better than nuthin’.
But for the most part, I have dissolved a lot of my relationships with some relatives because I found them to be quite unhealthy. And more than anything, disappointing.
These are the specific people I expected to be a part of my life at this stage of the game.
When you’re young, things go over your head. I have always been a Polyanna at heart and expect the best. And I tolerate a lot. Until I don’t.
Just because you’re related to someone does not mean you’re obligated to continue to tolerate their toxic and hurtful behavior.
If these were individuals who had a desire or awareness to change their ways, it would be different. Most people when they have wronged someone will have regret, apologize and maybe even attempt to change and make amends.
I’m referring to individuals that double-down. Like a cornered animal they continue to protest too much.
Their guilt should propel them to do better and to be better people. But it does not. Their guilt brings on defensive behavior and unprovoked attacks.
Yes, I took psychology in school as well and I can break it down, analyze someone and throw out some fancy terminology for their behavior.
But, life is too short.
I talk about this in my book, “ACTING…It’s Not For Sissies”. I urge actors to clean house in their life in regards to the company they keep and that goes for friends, family and fellow actors. “A stranger can’t really hurt you. Betrayal comes from someone you know well.”
I do not believe you can have a happy and healthy life if you’re surrounded by negative, horrible people.
I found their behaviors more than anything disappointing. And at a certain point it’s all frankly unforgivable.
They will answer to a higher power, I do believe.
I miss my grandmother, my mother’s mother a great deal and think of her often. At the same time, I am grateful she is not alive because her heart would be broken.
The current reality may not match what I imagined when I was young, but that could describe just about anything, right? And that’s more than okay.
In the meantime, I choose to be happy and surround myself with healthy, supportive people.
Let’s celebrate those people and appreciate their role in our lives.