Facebook Rekindles Family Dynamics Once Forgotten

I’ve not spent a lot of time going through my family history on this blog, as in the most part it is rather boring, and not overly eventful. If I think hard enough, I’m sure there are plenty of anecdotes that I could recall about the oddities of my family (we all have some), but I’m not about to start today. What I am going to do is post a series of dialogs that I have recently had with my (former) sister-in-law (FSIL).

A little history first. My eldest brother, Peter, married Sonia a “long time ago” and after four children they divorced. It was not the most ideal of situations, and there was a lot of anger at the time, and as it turns out, there still is … but I get ahead of myself.

Over the last few months I have been making connections with family members back in Australia. Among those has been – to my delight – Facebook friendships with my nieces and nephew, the children of my FSIL. I’ve had the opportunity to re-meet these amazing adults (as they are now), and share in the joys that have occurred in their lives with their partners, spouses and children. It has to be one of the highlights and true benefits of social networking sites like Facebook.

Anyway, earlier today I get the following message on Facebook from Sonia (direct cut and pastes are here):

why do you want to be friends with me none of you even bothered with us for thirteen years now you all want to be my friend it like your so called brother he did not even want to see his own children now all of a sudden he wants them as far as l’am concerned we have nothing in comom sonia

to which I replied the following, thinking that this would be the end of it:

Hey Sonia,

I didn’t ask to be your friend on FB, so not sure where the request came from. If you received it, then you are very welcome to disregard this. I’m actually very happy with the arrangement we have. You have moved on with your life, and it seems that you are much happier now, and I’m glad that you have that. I’ve moved on with mine. Our lives needn’t connect at any point directly.

For me, I’m excited to be making contact with my nieces and nephews again after being out of the country for nearly ten years. I’m equally excited that I may get a chance to meet up with them when I return to Australia later this year for a visit.

Please don’t misinterpret my recently established friendships with my nieces and nephew to imply that I am seeking a friendship with you as this is most certainly not the case.

Thanks for the note, and I wish you the best in your future.

James

Sadly, there was a response shortly after, which was more direct.

you tell me why is so important that you have to have contact with my children and grandchildren not one of you had bothered for thirteen years now it seems that because that tthey are older all of a sudden you want to see them not once in thriteen years any of you wanted to know about them they are all asking me question why when nobody wanted to know about them yes l’am verey happy l have a woderful husband and we are verey happy now we want some answers as to why none of you wanted to know them before thanks sonia

Needless to say, I was a little disturbed that she appears to be very angry still at what she perceives to be a decision made by me to have nothing to do with her children. Without going into the details – which I won’t – the decision was not mine to make. So I responded in what I hope will be the last communication with my FSIL. Perhaps I’m being a little naive.

Sonia:

I am not really sure what answers you are looking for. 13 years ago we didn’t have social network sites like Facebook, which have made connections with relatives and classmates a lot simpler. The advent of Facebook has created an insurmountable number of connections that many people considered long lost. I’m grateful for this, and especially grateful that family members have been able to reconnect without any of the boundaries that once existed. Of course, for the last ten years I’ve been living in the USA, so that only complicated access to all of my family.

I’m not sure that it’s accurate to say that I didn’t want to know my nieces and nephew more. I think for a period of time it was very difficult to connect with any of them, and rather that create unnecessary stress in their lives, it was simpler to take a step back.

I think the circumstances surrounding your and Peter’s divorce contributed to a great deal of stress and anger, which I am sensing from your communication that you may still have to a degree. That is your right to hold on to that, but it is not healthy in the longer term. Just an observation from personal experience.

As I have said, I am extremely grateful that my nieces and nephew wanted to make the reconnection with me, and I have enjoyed sharing my story with them, finding out about what has happened in their lives, and seeing the remarkable beauty of the children they are raising. I know how proud you are of them, and I know how proud Peter is of them.

Now that I have made connections with nearly all of my nephews and nieces, I look forward to continuing to share their joys and trials in the many years to come. I am not sure that this should really bother you as much as it does, but that is the reality.

Thanks again for the email. I hope you continue to enjoy the life you have, but I don’t really think it is beneficial for us to really continue a dialog at this point.

Peace,
James

Who said Facebook was useless?

2 Comments

  1. Ruth

    Jamie, this is the first bit of your blog I’ve read and the words that spring to mind are “pure gold”. It certainly is a good read, particularly as it highlights the impact of Facebook on families and the way we communicate. I’m looking forward to reading more. Thanks for sharing :-).