Family ties. When I was living in Boulder I got a letter from a Vermillion cousin I didn't know. Both my parents had close to a dozen siblings in their depression era families and everyone had kids. I doubt I ever met even a quarter of my first cousins, let alone those more remote or removed. She probably got my address from one of the Christmas letters my folks sent out every year. She was inviting me to a Vermillion family reunion somewhere in Arizona the coming summer. She'd written in plenty of time. It was still months away. I had less than no interest in attending such a gathering. I wrote back something vague about commitments and summer being a busy time but thanks anyway. I got a reply that flat out flabbergasted me. She took a downright menacing tone, warning me that if I didn't make time for this once-in-a-generation event there would be dire consequences. I would be drummed out of the family or some such. I never replied, and I never heard another peep out of her or any of them. I couldn't have asked for a better outcome.
Better than booze. I had exceptional parents. I have my siblings to thank for that, to some degree. They gave my parents a wealth of experience in parenting and softened them up. I endured very little of the draconian discipline they grew up with. Being seen as a replacement for the dear departed Stevie strongly reinforced that. I came in wearing the disguise of god's gift sent to ease their broken hearts. Little did they know. My siblings had all moved out by the time I was ten leaving me the only child. I liked it that way. I loved my sibs (well, Tim…), but the extended family seemed awkward and pointless. I went along for the visits for as long as I had to growing up then dropped them all like a hot papa. My dislike for families extends to fake families, i.e. clubs and organizations of all kinds. My only membership is in the guild of partner dancers, and guilds are different because they're based on skill. I had to earn my place in the guild of partner dancers through hard work that was often agonizing. Partner dancers are my family of choice. There are plenty of weird uncles and dubious cousins in my dance family, but I feel related to all of them, savory and un-. I find I enjoy some group socializing with dancers as long as there's dance involved. That's a change for me. I used to avoid any social contact that wasn't one to one even at dances unless I was good and soused. Normal for an introvert. My introversion is healthy. It supports making progress with love. Drinking was slow suicide.
Wrongheaded family ties. Families can be breeding grounds for wrongheadedness, promoting loyalty and sentimentality. There's nothing good about being sentimental or loyal. Hitler, mafiosi and serial killers are all famously sentimental. The apex of loyalty is my country (or abusing spouse) right or wrong. Those are good clues. Sentimentality and loyalty are mental, based on memories, words, images, conditioning. They're in the realm of emotions, not feelings. I have to overcome both of them in the course of making progress with love. They're both cheap generic imitations of real connection with other people, real love. Love is mutually created between two people who choose to connect. Automatically loving someone because they're a parent or a child is duty, not love. Love is never automatic.