Family Doesn’t Mean Everything

I have a friend who has some deep and painful issues with her family that we’ve been talking about quite a bit lately and it reminded me of all of the work I’ve done over the years to overcome some similar familial challenges. I won’t tell you her story because it isn’t mine to share, but I thought I would go into some of my story and some of what I shared with her from my experiences. 

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Won’t You Regret…

…pushing your parents out of your life?

Yes. No. Maybe. Probably not.

I know so many people who have wonderful relationships with their parents, or at least one of their parents. I know people who wish they knew their parents. I know people who have bit the bullet and tolerate relationships with their parents. I know people who, like me, have chosen to not associate with their parents at all.

I made this choice early on. I cut my mother off after I wasn’t required to use her taxes for my student aid. Even after I moved out of her house at 17, I rarely talked to her or saw her. I cut my mother off in my mid-twenties when I could finally get it across to my grandmother that I didn’t want to see my father.

My mother died almost three years ago from early-onset Alzheimer’s. It brought up a lot of emotions that I wasn’t prepared to handle at the time. It absolutely brought up regrets.

But her death also brought a lot of clarity to my life and my decisions. I am where I am today because I protected my peace and did what I needed to for my own sanity. I truly believe that if I hadn’t cut either out of my life, I would be on a completely different path in life.

So no, no I do not regret cutting either of them out of my life.

I absolutely wish I had those relationships. There are many times that I mourn the loss of those relationships knowing that it was my decision. I even tried to fabricate a relationship with my mother-in-law to replace my mother. It was a cry for love and attention and it didn’t go well. At least not in my opinion or for me. I am not sure her view of it. It wasn’t until I realized what I had been doing and stopped that I feel like my relationship with my mother-in-law got even better.

I won’t ever have the type of relationship with a blood-parent or parental figure that I want. I know that my view of that relationship has been highly skewed by movies and my childhood. Either way, I still don’t regret not allowing either parent in my life.

I don’t regret it now and I doubt I ever will.

You Are in Control of What You Accept

Each and every day we control what we allow into our lives and what we don’t. We allow that boss to be a dick to us. We allow the person who cut us off in traffic to get on our nerves. We allow ourselves to be nitpicky at our spouses for not taking out the trash. We allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the number of emails in our inbox.

We are allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed and burnt out as long as we don’t take any steps to change it. We are allowing people to be asshats and be disrespectful as long as we don’t stand up for ourselves. We are accepting it because we think we can’t control it.

We can’t control other people, that’s right. But we can control how we respond to other people and situations that we face.

I used to be queen of accepting others being complete bitches to me. I didn’t have a clue how to stop accepting their shitty treatment. All I knew was that I didn’t like confrontation and didn’t want to cause any problems. So I let other people roll over me again and again.

I still don’t like confrontation and I still suck at standing up for myself. What I have improved at is directing a conversation away from topics that will cause someone to bully me or disrespect me in any way.

One such way I’ve done that over the years is by cutting off all communication with my father. I really don’t even like admitting he is my father, it just feels wrong. He is a drug addict alcoholic who only cares about himself. I stood up for myself and didn’t allow him at my wedding. He didn’t have my contact information for years. Then one day, he got into his mother’s phone and got my phone number. In fact, he took it a step further and texted me from her phone telling me he was going to text me from his phone and that he acknowledged that my grandmother told him no.

He did text me. He sent me some very hurtful messages. Hurtful for me and hurtful for my grandmother. Those texts challenged my resolve. They challenged me to give into his, most likely drug-induced, self-pity rant that he was trying to spin as caring-ish about me. Those texts challenged my anger control.

After reading and rereading the texts and meditating on them, I shared them with my husband and sister and was able to simply have the reaction of ‘wow, he is going there.’

I was not willing to accept the self-pitying, cry for attention that he was exhibiting. I didn’t respond. I archived the text and moved on with my day. I was not willing to accept that kind of hell back into my life.

I am really good at controlling what I accept with some things and some people and really horrible with other things and people. I don’t have it all figured out. I still can get into an emotional or angered state depending on specific people and situations. But I have gotten better at protecting my peace and what I accept with quite a few people and situations.

For me, it all started with breaking free from those who continued to bring me down as I was trying to start my life. I stopped accepting so many things just out of high school. I worked really hard to stop accepting more over the years by building up walls. Once my walls were shattered, I had to relearn how to protect my peace and really determine what I would and would not accept in my life.

I’ve stumbled over and over again. For me, it always comes back to wanting to feel loved and needing to be shown that love, and my impatience. These two topics are what challenges my resolve on what I accept.

I have only gotten to where I am today with knowing what I will and won’t accept by doing the hard work and cutting people and things out of my life. One step at a time. One day at a time. One change at a time.

Today I can say with 85 percent confidence, I am absolutely in control of what I am accepting. The other 15 percent is me allowing my lack of control to go through the growth and learning that I still have left to do. My growth and my learning will never end, but controlling what I accept will become easier and easier.