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  • Jill Louise Foley

Family is Unpopular

Updated: Mar 29

Did you know that one of the most unpopular Instagram posts is a family photo? We are in a day and age that bypasses one of the truest treasures into which each of us are born. We'd rather be visually stimulated by a half-naked filtered meat suit or a make-up covered face instead of doing some genuine connecting; learning the stepping stones of what makes someone’s story their story. We are too 'busy' to investigate truth so we only read the bold-printed headlines, assume, pass ill-informed judgement, and browse instead of read. I've been guilty of all of these shortcuts. Now I'm questioning how I ever got so far from the truth.

Where am I?

What planet am I on?

How did I get so mixed up on my priorities and sense of value?

I've attempted to live in a world so completely consumed in busyness that I'd forgotten to breathe--physically breathe. A gift given to me by the creator; but then, everything given without a price tag holds little value. It seems only things worth paying attention to cost money or are worth something... right!? That's exactly what my consumer brain washed mind suggests: keep going, keep going, I need to get to the end... and quickly. Busy-busy doing everything and feeling nothing. I didn't want to live like that anymore. I don't want to pretend I'm important. I want to stop without a time frame, reminisce with the elderly lady who holds the capacity to breathe life into my learning soul as she is taking her dog for a walk. I want to receive moments that fill me with life instead of chasing my delusion on a hamster wheel having my life taken from me.

Just over a month ago I moved from a well-established job, amazing network of friends and clients to a small town in the mountains. The force pulling me into this vision was my aim to rebuild my heart’s foundation on love: love for God, love for my family and love for myself. Through the pandemic I was blessed to join my family in reading a few studies. Over the past decade I had fallen pretty far away from a genuine relationship with my family members. All the resentments and painful experiences I experienced from infancy into my teenage years haunted me, stunting my ability to want to enter back into relationship with the very source of my pain. To cope with my feelings of betrayal and neglect, I overcompensated by building walls of muscle and flaunting my half-naked physique on a stage. Bronzed and bedazzled, I begged for their judgment. I asked to be ranked on a visual scale whether I was 'better' than the woman standing next to me; what’s worse, I literally paid all my earnings to join this experience, not once but eight times! My inability to communicate my deepest feelings of abandonment left me searching for a space wherein I’d find validation. I changed everything about myself in order to answer the call of what others felt I was gifted at:

You're a great athlete.

You have a great physique--have you ever thought of competing?

You should take these supplements to help you lose fat, gain muscle etc.

You looked good but your posing wasn't great.

You have a great work ethic and structure but you should try performance enhancers if you want to be competitive in this sport.

You should get a coach.

You should get a fitted suit, a professional tan, a makeup artist.

Oh, you can't lift like that, you shouldn't lift heavy, your traps are too big, your quads are over developed.

You look great but that varicose vein is really distracting.

Eww, your skin.

Are you sick? Your voice sounds funny.

Are you transitioning?

Slowly down the rabbit hole of wanting to be a recognized 'athlete' I went, losing my focus on what I love to do the most... TRAIN. I initially fell in love with sports/training because I got to spend time with my Dad. He was my first coach, instructor and cheer leader, seeing the athletic potential in me earned his attention. I got to play sports with my friends, family, my brothers, my brothers friends, soon my love for play turned into a hunger to be the best and then playing wasn't fun unless I won.


Now in the mountains, with my dog Moose jumping in the snow, my inner child’s love for play comes out. Watching Moose become free along the endless space ignites my joy to run along with him. Being close to my brother and his beautiful family I get invited regularly to play--for hours I might add! I love to move! I love to create; watching artistic flow spill out of the hearts of my nieces onto a canvas leaves me speechless. I love being present in the process of bonding with my family, listening to what each of them has to say, even if it takes 3 minutes to get out a sentence due to the level of excitement.

The pandemic, which enforced less connection, drove me to dive deeper into the connections I really cherish. I began exploring 'The Compassion Project' with one of my sisters, her husband, and my parents. The course broke down viewing God as compassionate over judgmental, attuning into the pain of our past and shedding love onto the shame over condemnation. The course also shared structured communication tools to confront your abusers; if we felt that confrontation was essential for future reconciliation. Before putting your glasses of compassion on to see everyone in a view of understanding, you must recover the main foundation of Self Compassion which requires humanizing the person in the mirror. Look into your own heart, voice the hurt, look at the root; you must investigate when you left trust because pain blinded your sight. Voicing your hurt validates your feelings and your feelings are real!

Link for the compassion project which I highly recommend:

https://justinandabi.thinkific.com/courses/thecompassionproject

This invitation was the first step to me feeling wanted and missed by my family. Now, I haven't communicated directly about some of my resentments. I was able to free myself from self judgement, rebuild my view of God and I've been equipped with compassion to aid in rebuilding the structures of the relationships I've longed to have. This course has saved me from reaching for my protectors; instead recognizing the roots of my personal triggers and I am able to address missed communication without need for pointing blame. Fear stands alone as the one barrier to conversation; for assumption builds the wall before I even fathom opening the door. Instead, what if I delivered my message with the intention of healing for both parties? Trusting that love will always win over hate. What if I saw both parties as hurting? Would this encourage me to put my finger down? I'm tired of tip toeing around my words in order to keep the waters calm. I think we are all in dire need of a tidal wave roughing up the shores to wash away what no longer serves us. Life without waves isn't living at all.

Amidst this study I began another called 'Experiencing God,' I was also invited to take part by my family, this was another invitation I decided to take. I learned alongside my brother, his wife, and my parents. This book spoke directly into how I've been living my life: why and who is leading my activity and reasoning? Pretty quickly into my personal reflection I realized that I was being lead by the need to be needed, praised and receiving a title. This awareness revealed that I wasn't quite ready to detach from feeling like a leader and being well known for my physical accomplishments. These worldly desires diluted my relationship with God, my family and my fiancé because I put more of an effort in my clients and responding to strangers than I did spending quality time in prayer, obedience and pure love. My client relationships have always been authentic; they stem from my deep appreciation for each individual’s story and the generosity with which they share. In the end, I measured my value on productivity; to feel needed on the daily quenched my thirst for validation. With my work life hitting my fill of 'love', I heightened my expectations in my home life. ‘These people love me so should you. My clients listen to my advice so should you, my clients speak highly of me so should you!’ But where was I putting my time? Was it into my family or my work? This was a hard one, and it continues to be a daily challenge but timing is everything. Covid forced gym closures and group class restrictions, and moving challenges lead to Sean and I being asked to move from our rental home in Sooke, BC.

My prayers of being more connected to my fiancé were being answered, but...God doesn't give us what we exactly want; the creator of the Universe has a sense of humour and a perspective only he can see. So here I am, alone in the mountains with my love (I say that with strong feelings) and my dog wishing I wasn't being called to spend so much time in self-reflection. BLAH! But...I need to. That is, right after I peel myself off the floor from my temper tantrum, which I can only assume is triggered by lack of comfort. I brush myself off, look at where I am, who I'm with, how far I've come, and I sing praise.


FAMILY. I want a family. I want a love so strong nothing can destroy it, for it is built on a concrete foundation. So, that is where I am. Humbled by mountains, finding peace in the stillness, reminding myself each step to breathe in God and release myself. Yesterday I opened a small (fanny pack-sized) note pad that was gifted to me to find a drawing I had made 2 years ago on the back page. It's the view of the mountains from Dallas Road in Victoria, BC, underneath I wrote: 'In front of you is the only space I can truly breathe'. The oceans have taught me a valuable lesson in letting go; now here, I wonder at the mountains and I am humbled--breathing in all they have to offer.

I no longer thirst for selfish praise, for I am nothing.

Everything I build won't last in eternity.

I am no lion, no king, or god of my own.

I am just a servant of the Lord.

All that is asked of me is this: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'

-Luke 10:27

If I hold love as the number one, then everything that flows from me will in turn influence the same in others.

My priority is breath and family. I don't want to take these gifts for granted. My heart weighs heavy with the knowing that family is unpopular as independence is what’s trending. Just like trees our roots are essential to our growth. The more we are surrounded by the same like-minded sources, the larger our breath becomes, the stronger our communication becomes, and the more fulfilling our lives become.

We've always been better together.

It's worth it to reach out.

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