This is going to be a weird post, I’m just saying. You might feel like you’re reading my journal. However, I’ve had a really hard couple months dealing with family issues and it has made me ask some really tough questions of myself. I’ve had to do a little evaluating of the relationships in my life, and after doing some really tough thinking, I thought it would be a good idea to post about it because it really applies to what I talk about on here.
We say as minimalist’s we strive to live life based on what’s important. Most of us have decided that means faith, relationships we spend time in, and investing in our community to make it better. What if the relationships we spend our time on are toxic? What if they leave us worse off than had we not pursued them? Even though we want to make things work (with family members, etc…), do our relationships with certain people become more of a burden? And what I’ve really dealt with recently… Are these people I want to spend a lot of time with when I have children to think about? Do I want this person having negative influence on my own daughter? These are the tough questions we have to ask, and the questions I fear I’ve found the answers to in my life.
Last week, I lost relationships with my Mom, stepfather, two older brothers, and sister. The only family members that love/have contact with me are my father and future step-mom and my younger brother who has to see me when I’m in town because my Dad has partial custody of him. That’s a really tough statement to chew on. I have loved my family so deeply over the last ten years since my parent’s divorce and have tried so hard in my adult years to be fair to everyone. I’ve tried to hear all sides of everything and be there for everyone. Until recently, I really felt like I was making progress. I truly believed there was nothing my family could do that would make me want to discontinue a relationship with any one of them. I was on speaking terms with everyone over the last couple years from time to time and my Mom and I were even planning a day of sewing when I go home in April. Things were really looking up and I felt like my hard work was starting to pay off. And then, we got some news that we just couldn’t get through. I won’t go into details because it really doesn’t matter. But everyone had to choose a side, and when I chose the “wrong” one, I was cut off from most family members. I chose to stand up next to my Dad, just because I didn’t want to see him go through anything else alone, and it was made clear that I would no longer be able to be in relationship with my mom, sister, and brothers. We went to court and it was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do. All I wanted was to go back in time 15 years to when we were just kids and didn’t know about the legal process. I wanted to be able to hug my Mom and tell jokes with my brothers, but not at the expense of my Dad. I just wanted us all to be able to be in the same room without glares and nasty comments. It was a very intense time, but going through it really showed me what my future needs to look like.
Throughout the three days we were in court, I realized more and more each day how bitter and angry my family was. Each time I was called a “Princess”, I realized how easy it was for my family to make me feel alone. Each time it was said that my Dad bribed me to be in a relationship with him through offering money and gifts, I knew how far my family had come to knowing reality. And each time I heard bitter persecution of my Dad and the lies they told of our childhood, the more I knew I needed to let my family go.
As a Christian, I know about love and forgiveness. I’ve always thought I had to forgive everyone who hurt me AND continue a relationship with them for the rest of my life. Through the events of the last week and some serious evaluating, I know that’s not true. I can love and forgive all of the members of my family who have treated me badly and I can say from the bottom of my heart, I do. And I wish them the best for their lives. But I can also say that I will not be spending my time with them any longer. I’ve seen the depths of where they will go to get what they want and I want nothing to do with it. I’ve always said I don’t want to cheat my husband and future children out of our lives together by dealing with my siblings and mother’s issues. I believe my husband and future children deserve that. Just like that, the decision was made. On a regional jet, 30,000 feet in the air, somewhere between Boise and Denver. I need to move on from the relationships that hold me back.
I realize my family issues are very extreme and you probably don’t need to evaluate as much as I have, but I would challenge you to think about who you spend your time with. Seriously. Do you come home from hanging out with certain friends and find that you are more on edge than normal? Or do certain friends put pressure on you to say or do things you don’t normally say or do? Do you change who you are based on who you are with?
Minimalism is all about focusing on what’s important. Relationships are not just important, but essential. Make sure you are using this short time you have in life on the ones that truly matter. The friends that lift you up and speak the truth to you. The family that knows you better than anyone and looks out for you. The spouse that always leads you back to love and forgiveness.
**I want to thank you for hearing my heart. This was a hard post to put into words, but I know there is healing in the written word. And I also know I’m not the only one who deals with this. Thanks!