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January 10, 2023

What Meghan & Harry can Teach Us All about Family.

*Waylon’s perspective: My reluctant take on Harry & Meghan & Spare & all the Royal & public blowback.
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If you immediately feel an urge you can’t control to post a negative comment about Harry and Meghan, or even me, by simply reading the title of this article, I ask you to stop for a moment.

Sit. Breathe. Relax.

Rewind through everything you have ever read in the newspapers, seen on the news, read on social media, or watched in a Netflix series or Oprah interview. I ask you not to think of them as members of the royal family but imagine them as you. Your spouse. Your children.

I just finished watching the much-talked-about Netflix documentary yesterday, but I honestly didn’t need to in order to understand some of the challenges they have faced. I can relate to Meghan Markle. Not as an actress, a Duchess, or a wealthy and famous individual. I can relate to her as a person, being young and in love with the same hopes and dreams we all have.

Let’s start with saying that many people around the world loved and adored Queen Elizabeth. Here’s someone who at only 25 years old dedicated her life to her country and service to the crown above all else.

But where it gets complicated is if someone else makes a different life choice, why is that considered wrong? The truth is that it was due to someone else’s decision to choose love that led to her becoming Queen at all. Her uncle, Edward Vlll, abdicated the throne when he fell in love with and decided to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite and divorcée. If this situation had happened today, Edward VIII would’ve been allowed to marry Simpson and the royal family would look much different than it does right now.

Was he wrong for daring to choose love? And why do family members, or all of us as complete strangers, even have an opinion other than wishing Harry and Meghan well on their life’s choices?

I can also relate to the couple making these tough choices while having two young children. You see, my husband and I walked away from members of our family decades ago—and not because we didn’t love them. For us, race was not a factor, though it would’ve been reason enough. What was a factor was the rather dysfunctional, complicated systems that continue to impact my family. And this is where I lose most people.

My family.

How do you define family? I used to define it the same as most of you: your mom, dad, siblings, husband, wife, and children.

But sometimes, circumstances happen in our lives that force us to evaluate the relationships that are no longer good for our health, our happiness, or our spirit. And sometimes these relationships are with the people we love most in this world.

I’m not talking about not getting along or the idea that “every family has issues.” I’m talking about toxic, unbearable circumstances where you have exhausted every possibility to create boundaries or find common ground, yet nothing works. And the constant turmoil and stress takes a toll on your mental well-being and your marriage. Often these are unhealthy dynamics that continue generation after generation, yet the person who finally speaks up is to blame.

In Harry’s case, some say that he is attacking his late grandmother and the royal family. But is someone’s courage to speak openly and honestly to blame, or should we blame the behavior itself? To him, this conflict is between family members, regardless of royal titles, just like our own relatives. He doesn’t seem to expect more from them, but he shouldn’t expect less either.

We have different stories, but like me and my husband, Harry and Meghan had to choose their definition of family. And like me, they have decided it is wife, husband, and their own children. What they need comes first. That is not something they need to defend—it is something that should be admired.

I believe our first priority should always be our partner and children. If we all saw it that way, I think we’d be happier, particularly our children as they grow up, and we could keep more marriages together. And I don’t think this idea makes Meghan narcissistic or Harry selfish. Even their desire to continue on in public service to the crown part-time was denied, which speaks volumes about the no-win situation they were in.

If Meghan and Harry can’t find a healthy boundary in their relationship with their families and continue to be estranged from them, that does not mean they do not love them or believe family is the most important thing. But most people can’t understand or empathize because they have never had to choose.

As we begin this new year and Harry’s memoir is released, my hope for them would be continued love, light, and strength when they need it on their unique journey.

I have been married to my husband for more than 32 years. He loves me deeply and makes me feel it every day. We still hold hands and communicate more than anyone I know. After all these years, when he looks at me he still thinks I am the most beautiful girl in the world—we are madly, deeply, passionately in love. My husband inspires me every day, and my life is the way it is, in part, because we made the painful, hard decision decades ago to choose us and our own family.

I hope that is something Meghan and Harry can say decades from now when they look into each other’s eyes.

I read a comment just this morning that resonated with me more than all the others I have read and I think sums up this situation perfectly:

“I’m seriously over these two in a HUGE way. They want what they want, how they want it, and in their own way on their own terms. Life does NOT happen that way. Sorry. Reality kicks in.”

Meghan and Harry do want to live life on their own terms. And this commenter is correct in that, for some people and for an abundance of reasons, life isn’t like that—and that is incredibly sad. Living life on our own terms is how it should be for everyone.

You can’t live your life for someone else or their expectations of you.

Not your mother.

Not your father.

Not your brother.

Not your sister.

Not your grandmother either. Even if she was the Queen of England.

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