During a recent phone call with my family, after I had left and traveled far away to study abroad, my mother and I were about to end the call as tears streamed down our faces, and I started repeating the same words over and over again, "I love you so much Mama, I swear", to which she'd answer in the same sad tone while trying to hide her flowing tears, "And I love you more, darling, you're the light of my eyes", a nickname that my mother recently came up for me. Then suddenly my father entered the call to interrupt us sarcastically with the words, "Why are you crying, Nourhan? Wasn't it your mother who used to yell at you and fight with you every few minutes?"
His words surprised my mother, who then said, "Me, Nourhan?" And here I tried to calm them down so that they would not quarrel after the call ended, but deep down I knew it was the truth. And the question that has been bouncing around in my mind since then is: Why does our relationship with our parents improve after we leave home?
Me and my brother
On the other hand, my relationship with my little brother is one full of bickering and sibling rivalry, but I think it has surpassed this stage in the last year, that we now both have an inner certainty that we hate each other, and that life would have been better if the other did not exist.
Just two days ago, during a call with my brother, I was checking on how he was doing with his exams, which seem to have exhausted him, when he suddenly says to me, "I miss you so much, Noura, I swear, the house without you is gloomy and very lonely, not like it was when you were in it."
Simple unexpected words with a deep meaning that I never imagined I'd hear from the same brother who we used to waste half our day fighting with each other, and raising our voices getting in each other's faces.
Hearing my brother's words, I couldn't give any reaction, and at the time I couldn't help but think of one question: "Since we love each other like this, why did we spend our years together screaming and fighting, and should I have left my house so that my family and I would discover these deep feelings and hear each other's sweetest and most tender words?"
Human relationships are very complex, but their most common features depend on the idea of distance, and most relationships without distance are toxic, even with parents
When I tried to analyze these situations that I had faced with my dear family, I could only link them to one thought: "Healthy relationships need distance".
"Healthy relationships need distance"
Human relationships are very complex, but their most common features depend on the idea of distance, and most relationships without distance are toxic, even with parents. They become relationships that will never be free of problems and fights, even if without any good reason.
I once read of a married man who said that he cannot see his wife or deal with her every single day, and that he is grateful for his job that allows him to travel from time to time. He stated that he doesn't mean that he hates his wife by saying this, on the contrary, he loves her very much, and they are both in love with one another. But for him, his regular travel from time to time is what keeps this love present, and both of them miss and long for the other while this distance exists, which is the same as what the singer Amir Eid once mentioned: "The thing I love the most in Layla my wife is that she knows how to be happy without me, and we both have our own personal space and distance."
It's the very same distance that fixed my relationship with my family and makes us – every time we talk – not say anything that may be harmful.
We must all start working on respecting distances with others, and setting some for ourselves when dealing with others in order to have healthy relationships
We distance ourselves and forget the negative images
During my extensive research on this topic and talking to many people in my new academic environment, there were many opinions on this idea. Yasmine (Yemen) said, "My relationship with my family really improved after I left home. In fact I have always had an idea related to this concept, which is that with distance, a person's feelings towards the one who left increases, and this is what happened to me."
After we leave our homes, our parents feel an emptiness of sorts, and thus we also face at the same time a reality full of regrets. Both parties feel remorse regarding the complicated relationship full of disagreements that we had. Now we are trying to compensate for this through sweet and gentle words. Also one of the reasons for the relationship improving following some distance, is forgetting people's flaws and negative traits, as proximity within the same house and under the same roof makes us always come into contact with a person's negative image and our defects without the need to hide anything.
Healthy relationships need distance, just like Gibran told us: "Let there be spaces in your togetherness.. Stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow"
Contrary to Yasmine's opinion, Roaa (Syria) said: "I am an introverted person by nature, I have always been used to isolating myself in my room, so I prefer to isolate myself from my family so as not to cause any problems with them, despite the attempts of my mother and siblings to approach me by coming to my room on a regular basis. I will not deny that my relationship with my father improved slightly after I left the house, and the intensity of the outbursts between us decreased. In reality, I feel like I have mentally prepared my family for the idea of being away from them by preferring solitude and isolation while we were under the same roof."
We have always heard phrases such as "human relationships are complicated", but we didn't pay much attention to such words. It was difficult to imagine the relationship of a mother who brought a child into this world and had all this love for him/her, and yet their relationship has many problems, or imagine a couple in love that doesn't stop quarreling, but we must all start working on respecting these distances, and start setting some for ourselves when dealing with others in order to have healthy relationships
* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22
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