What if making a choice changes your life forever, and sets into motion a long festering wound that initially feels raw and painful, but over time mellows to a dull ache? What if hurting those you love is the only way you have to express the deep pain you feel that goes unacknowledged or worse, misunderstood, by those who are old enough to know better? What if saying goodbye to unhealthy patterns of behavior that keep you repeating old, worn out relationship scenarios that need to be stopped helps to make you feel more settled and whole? What if being perceived as unkind is indeed the only means you have to gain back the focus you need in your life? What if it means walking away from those who you did not choose to be forever connected to in life, but through some random DNA and the reproductive “rolling of the dice” landed you with the nuclear family you wound up with, but never truly felt like you belonged?
Saying it’s complicated is an understatement, and patterns long established, where everyone plays their respective parts is inevitable. The “victim,” the “martyr” and the “bad guy.” It was and is for my family a pattern long established dating back decades to childhood. Everyone falling into their respective rolls, and this as a result of a family dynamic that was at best, dysfunctional, and at its worst, pure chaos.
Over the years as children, teenagers and young adults, we learned the easiest way to survive our family life was to seek out every chance to laugh. We buried inside the feelings of hurt, confusion and disconnection that were being deeply grooved into each person’s psyche that resulted in a highly intelligent, self preservationist mentality along with a “functionally dysfunctional” family dynamic.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom. Not by a long shot! There were such wonderfully fantastical times of fun, laughter and a lightness of being that lifted the gloomy fog of our mothers seemingly incessant unhappiness and my fathers nonstop discontent with home life . Two people who found love in their youth, remained together over the years despite all the repeated drama and threats of divorce over a fathers’ cheating, drinking and a combined unhappiness until their death a few years back. Proving in death, that sometimes it’s better to stay with the known, unhealthy patterns, then to look for newer and yes, a scarier means of finding happiness in life by living apart from one another.
It is down right impossible to be raised in the shadow of so much sadness and pain and not be forever impacted. It seemed like a never ending ride of disharmony. Never really knowing where you stood and always trying to be heard but often, as the youngest, overlooked in the midst of everyone trying to make sense of their own lives. Understandable, but none the less, lasting scars were formed that thickened over the years like a vine creeping along a fence looking for the sunlight as it destroys the very structure supporting it in the process.
In my early 30’s, when life brought me to my knees with panic attacks, and a deep, pervading sadness about the direction of my life, I sought out the services of a psychologist. She forever changed my world and outlook by helping me discover things about myself I had never understood or knew how to manage. One such nugget of wisdom from her allowed me to comprehend the healing power of forgiveness. I learned to forgive my parents for all the difficulties and anxieties they directly and indirectly caused in my life. This allowed me to lift myself up, not rely on others to do it, and feel more in control of life. Sure, there were still hiccups along the way. Each and every bump in the road of my life has allowed me to strengthen my resolve and purpose in life.
When my parents died, I felt such sadness down to the marrow of my bones for a very long time. I also felt the vibrational energy and imbalance of a sibling dynamic not strongly bonded. There sometimes was a sticky, murky awkwardness to our interactions with one another that was palpable, perhaps only to me, but there none the less. Trying to maintain some semblance of “family,” especially in the hopes of developing a changed and long lasting friendship with my siblings, I buried a lot of my pain and discontent yet again, as I did in my youth. I truly and wistfully hoped for the best, but hoping and reality are often two very different things. I wanted to also forgive them, as I had my parents. I wanted to not just make nice and pretend all was OK, but work hard at fostering positive relationships. This seemed to all work for a bit of time, but when a home is built on a weak foundation sometimes it is better to move.
A friend recently said to me that “families cause us the most pain because we are so invested.” Truer words have never been spoken. But like all investments, knowing when you have to let go of the false hope that things will ever be any better or improve can be so difficult. When the effort to bring intention and purpose to improving things just becomes a sad, tired repetition of the past, it’s ok to say “enough is enough.” Now, as a woman who has reached the tender and wiser age of 56, I feel the need to let go of a bond with my siblings, that has left not only me, but them , feeling unheard, misunderstood, misrepresented and stuck. The distorted lens of our upbringing prevents each of us, at times, from moving forward. So, when the same sad, redundant story line gets played out, and any attempt at showing there is more to this relationship then just the fact that we all grew up in the same house, enough is enough.
We all have had our feelings deeply hurt, but it’s time to stop distorting facts to elicit sympathy causing proverbial lines in the sand to be drawn among extended family who also have their distorted lens through which to view our lives. I no longer want to play the games that were learned so well in our youth. They did help us survive at that time. I want to thrive! Breathe!
Supportive, non judgmental relationships that don’t come with a lot of “excess baggage” are very hard to come by and need to be treasured when found. I have that in not only my husband and son but in the many people who I have come to know as the adult, grown up version of me. These are people who are united in both drive and determination to be the best we can be!
To forge a healthier dynamic sometimes you have to let go of those things that keep you held in check or have you continuously caught in a mental loop. Its called becoming an adult. And it’s painful…..but in the long run, a healthier place to be!
Change hurts but its the only way we learn to let go, let be and trust in the process.