People make movies about it, comedies about it, books about it, self help books, songs and therapists make billions of dollars sorting through family conflicts and turmoil.
There is not a family alive that doesn’t have some level of conflict and challenges. However there are also some on the other end of the dysfunction scale that requires some very difficult but important decisions to be made. It can take decades to wade through.
The holidays are a particularly difficult time for families in conflict or trouble as we are all fed the story of ‘family comes first.’ Or ‘family is blood.’ And. ‘Family is everything.’
You feel like a complete failure as a person if you can’t or won’t suffer the abuse, cruelty or rudeness from ‘family’ members for the holidays.
So… Many people torture themselves and suffer untold pain for the rest of the year OR for a lifetime, because of an Uncle, Aunt, Father, Sister or brother whom we are told to suffer and endure because they are ‘family’.
This is not how I feel. This is not what I do or recommend.
At an early age I learnt that family is not like the TV versions. Some people can be cruel, rude, disrespectful, undermining, insulting and uncaring AND they can also be your closest relatives. They can rob you of your rights and your plans for your future and that is not acceptable in my book.
This is also hard because they are also our first relationships in life. And can set the tone, leave lasting scars which can take us decades to face and heal.
I decided quite some time ago, at an early age, that I don’t need those cruel and destructive forces in my life, no matter who or where they come from.
Respect and loyalty is earned. Love is grown. Closeness is built over many years and with the little things people do and say.
I am at an age now where I can choose the people I share my life with and so that means there are family members I have let go and have no relationship with.
We would not expect a person to continue to associate with an abuser or encourage a person to “bite their tongue” if they were attacked on the street. But when the attackers are a relative we expect them to accept and take it. Nope! Not me. Not ever.
And not at the price of my own emotional and physical wellbeing.
When we start adding physical illnesses and diseases to the mix, I am just not willing to sacrifice my precious health on someone (whom ever they are) when I need that energy to survive and enjoy the life I have.
No one has the right to ruin another person life or jeopardize their health. No matter WHO they are.
At the same time, I also let go of any resentment and angst that I felt towards those people. It’s only fair on both parties. I wish them AND me all the best. I let go with dignity and respect. Even to the artackers and cruelest of family members.
It might mean that holidays and life events are not filled or surrounded by large amounts of family members but it also means it is not marred or damaged by enemies and cruelty.
Life is too short to spend with pain and anger in your life and heart.
Sadly support groups are littered with the posts from the hurt and inconsolable victims of rude, cruel, calass and competitive family relatives who have shown no kindness, empathy and encouragement from ‘family’ and continue to be targets of their hurtful and uneducated comments. Simply because they are sick and don’t meet the demands or expectations of family members.
Today I use the word family for people who have shown me character, respect, kindness and courtesy. Today the word family is given to those who are as close to me as any bond could be. Regardless of whether we are related or close friendships. But there is love and respect and that’s the difference.
I can’t and won’t accept anything less.
Call it pride or just plain common sense but I don’t need nor tolerate that behavior from anyone as I may be many things but I AM not a self harmer and I value myself and the life I have left too highly.