Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Isolation of the Single Emigrant


Familial isolation I talk about. Of a long term emigrant with family back in the old country or scattered in other global faraways.

I had a long chat with my sister who lives in Cork, Ireland, the other day. Very long. Catching up. Pondering travel to a nephew's marriage in April. In Argentina. Updates on family and politics but nothing too deep or serious and a few good laughs.

These familial threads are very slender indeed. Unless I put a lot of effort into them. i.e. be the emailer all the time, be the caller all the time instead of taking turns at these roles of emailee and callee. And I find as I age that the health and spark deplete a little until I don't have that kind of energy to throw into the black holes of no response anymore. I conserve it for those who do. For instance my daily emails to my lifelong friend in Dublin and hers to me. She knows more about me than any of my family does and I feel the love all those thousands of miles away. As I hope she does from me (Hi, H----!).

My friends in Toronto still call/email regularly and those ropes are very strong. I've thought for years that family is an illusion. We create our own families of love, trust and mutual support and admiration. And my family of choice is large.

I observe the blood families around me, see the emigrants from Newfoundland return regularly to land in their tribe of origin and dig right in. And weep when they leave.

And feel the loss of mine. And wonder if it was ever there to begin with.

And no, I'm not sad about this. At all. Just reflecting on what human connections sustain us. And mine are very rich indeed.

But there's always the what ifs of the fragile ties to loved siblings.

18 comments:

  1. I know where you are coming from. I suppose as siblings marry and have their own families we are moved to the outer circle. A week without a call or email can so easily become two... or three, and before you know it six months have passed.

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  2. Yes, GM, even my emigrant friends who go back home every year have much the same story, if the emigrant is not willing to put in the effort, time has a way of zipping by.
    XO
    WWW

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  3. I feel much more connected to friends and even some acquaintances than I do to family. Blood ties are no guarantee of any other kind of ties, in fact they may bring mutual incomprehension.

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  4. One by one, my UK connections are slipping away - even the annual Christmas card gang is smaller than it once was. Family all gone before, apart from cousins who care little for one another - and me.

    Like you, WWW I'm not sad, though occasionally nostalgic for the connection with those to whom I was closest. It's all part of that "Rhythm of Life".
    :-)

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  5. Yes, Nick, blood ties are an illusion, a myth that was certainly fed by my father.
    "Mutual incomprehension". LOL~!
    XO
    WWW

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  6. T:

    I was brought up in a family were blood ties (siblings) were very strong so this was modelled for us 6

    I do see sisters in other families being very close.

    Brothers not so much.

    XO
    WWW

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  7. Although sad it is very true that we grow in different ways from our siblings. I being the one who moved away has to make an effort, those who stayed in the place we were brought up remain close, going home is like time stood still. I am happy to see them but I am always happier to arrive back home.....:-)Hugs

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  8. Bernie:
    Yes, I love seeing my siblings too and I think it is because that I am the one 'away' that I feel this distance.
    I wuoldn't change where I live for anything!
    XO
    WWW

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  9. Enjoying all my family is a favorite thing for me. We have a bit of everything and then some. All are interesting in their own way. Life is good.

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  10. Brighid:
    Lucky you, long may it continue!
    XO
    WWW

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  11. Thanks, I hope it does too.
    Maybe it's because I have moved so much that I work to keep them close.

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  12. Family is made from relationships, not blood.

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  13. Having recently moved away from all familial connections, I think about this a lot too. Aside from the relative strength of the various family relations, I do feel that there is a certain loss in severing (or reducing) ties to family and land of origin. But among other things life is about how we deal with loss, not about what is lost. I think about the what-ifs too, but try not to dwell on it, you just never know what the future holds.

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  14. Maybe it is really about how much we actually like our family members and how much we have in common with them apart from being born into the same nest. I don't think blood ties are necessarily the tightest. Nor ought they to be. You may be complete strangers to each other after a while.

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  15. Marcia:
    I totally agree with you firmly believe that home is where the heart is.
    XO
    WWW

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  16. Annie:
    I don't dwell on it too much at all, just now and again it hits when I am talking or emailing one of the sibs and I then ponder on how slender the threads.
    Though I have to say when a catastrophe struck a few years ago, my elder brother was the one I first called and he was amazing.
    XO
    WWW

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  17. Nora:
    I just adore all my siblings in their various manifestations. I really do. I have learned a lot from them and get tremendous joy out of their accomplishments and struggles.
    I wish we all lived closer.
    But I am fortunate in that the community I have built sustains me.
    XO
    WWW

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  18. Losing touch with people is what happens with some relations and friendships. On the other hand, with new technology a little effort can go a long way to making bonds. I have found that with the internet I correspond with one of my Canadian cousins fairly often. She keeps a blog and posts photos and description of travels in an rov - I comment and keep my own blog. With Christmas Card friends it seems to be accepted that the yearly tenuous link is all there is. Then, sadly, we meet up at another funeral.

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