{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Primrose May 10, 2014 at 7:46 am

I would second the value of communication. after a major family bust up some years ago one of the things that really healed the rift was speaking regularly on the telephone. I now understand much better that the rift was helped on its way in the first place by the fact that we didn’t already do that. that we can drift apart and misunderstandings can arise if we don’t do that.

and the other phrase that hit home for me was that our inner critic is usually programmed by our families. ouch. like treading on a tack.

thanks for another long and lovely post. YOU are a shining star! with or without the sunglasses 🙂 xxx

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Rebecca A. Watson May 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Awwww thanks my dear 🙂 I appreciate your kind words. Yes, communication is key isn’t it? And also, even if we’re not feeling particularly close, we kind of know what’s going on in other people’s worlds, which I think is an important part of healing. Yeah, the inner critic thing … ouch indeed. But also nice because knowing that means we can reprogram 🙂 hugs to you and thanks for stopping by!

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Olivia May 11, 2014 at 12:06 am

This is very familiar.

A few years back I stopped talking to my sister… because we were just hurting each other, over and over. I told her I thought it was best if we just didn’t speak for awhile. She was shocked at my request and I remember her saying, “Whatever makes you sleep better at night.”

So it stopped for half a year. It sucked, but it was needed to heal ourselves and forget the words we used to wound each other. We are close again today. A bit more guarded and a little bit more wise.

I feel like it’s when you feel the room getting tense, and you know you should probably walk out for the sake of keeping the peace. Some may not understand it… but you do.

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Rebecca A. Watson May 12, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Hi lady! Thanks for sharing this. I do think it’s good to take a time out from people, especially when it seems you can’t help but hurt eachother. Good for you for doing that, and I’m glad to hear you’ve been able to work it out. You’re right, not everyone gets it, but that’s OK, right? Peace and harmony within yourself are the most important.

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Furtheron May 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Hmmm… family…

After many years I’d drifted so far apart from my brother we were like strangers. This was due to many things, one my drinking and then my getting sober created a dynamic that broke some part of us somewhere. Also his ex-wife – I now know she was a part of this distancing as she didn’t like me… well to be fair I never liked her much either – a feeling enhanced when she dumped my brother out of the marriage and then was a total bitch about the break up – which she wanted!
Anyway – we’ve come back together now. I was best man at his second marriage and we’re off on holiday together as a foursome in the summer.

My mother-in-law… bless her… well what can I say… here is an example.

in 1986 my wife and I bought our first car together as a married couple for the preceding two years we’d not had one as we got married, bought our house, decorated and furnished it etc. My wife proudly picks her up in it. She sits in the passenger seat as my wife goes to back out of the park space and promptly moves the wing mirror. My wife said “Hey what you doing I need that to reverse”. My mother-in-law huffed in a manner she’s perfected and said “But I want to look at myself in it – you’ve one your side for you”. I mean where do you start? She is the centre of her universe and expects everyone else to consider that she is the centre of theirs… aforementioned holiday with my brother. She has the right hump since she isn’t coming along. She couldn’t understand why I only bought tickets for my wife and I to go to Rome recently. “I’d love to go back there” was all she said expecting me to book another ticket.

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Rebecca A. Watson May 15, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Wow, your MIL is a piece of work! But yeah, there are people out there and standing your ground sometimes means looking like the “bad guy” at least to them. When I read your story about her, I couldn’t help but laugh. Humor helps although I know from experience that it can be hard to find it funny when it’s that close to you.

Thanks for your story about your brother. It helps to hear things like that, the it can get better type stories. There are so many of the other kind they can drown out the ones that have happy endings. And thanks for stopping by! 😀

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Alex December 10, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Thanks for writing this, it summed up a lot of my feelings in a much more articulate way than I could have done. I severed ties to my mother 2 years ago and it’s been tough dealing with the default criticism and disapproval from people who don’t even know her (‘whaaat? but she’s your MOTHER!’) as well as the guilt and ‘shoulding’ (great word!) that I did to myself. I hoped for a long time that she would get better and that we’d be able to communicate and have a relationship but I finally came to terms with the fact that it would never happen no matter what I did…it was sad but it was a huge relief!

But in toxic family situations it’s really true that it’s sometimes the only thing you can do to keep your sanity and happiness. I wish I’d listened to my inner voice and cut her out of my life way sooner, honestly. People really freak out when they find out you’ve ‘broken up’ with your family though…at least that was my experience.

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Rebecca A. Watson December 10, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Alex, I totally know what you mean that some people can really be judgmental and weird when they find out you’ve broken up with family. Key word in that sentence is “some.” I find that people who act like that are generally folks that have their own unresolved issues with family. They live in denial most likely, and you dealing with your family in a healthy way for you makes them uncomfortable, to say the least. So they let you know how they feel so you will, under no circumstances, bring it up again. That way they don’t have to think about it.

However, I have met many good and kind people who have wonderful, “normal” relationships with their families who really really try to empathize and sympathize with my problems and why I broke up with my family. Even people whom I’m not close with and haven’t shared my whole story will say something like “I’m so sorry you went through something so terrible.” And then there are the brothers and sisters, the yous and mes of the world who have gone through it and understand. These folks are blessings because they get it and will listen and never judge. They also help with your “shoulding” on yourself.

Super glad you got out of a toxic relationship. It doesn’t matter who it is, you don’t deserve that treatment. My heart goes out to you that you’re going through such a loss. Having a mother who can’t love you the way you need is a special kind of pain. But that makes you a special kind of person too. BIG hugs <3

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ben December 15, 2014 at 5:20 pm

hi there-

found ur blog whilst consulting google for the meaning of ‘sanguinity’ – a lot of nice insight here…agreed that people are generally trying to do their best and pain is easily transferred when we can’t see eye to eye. Currently in a similar situation but ‘shoulding’ on myself less and less…feels better every day!

thx 🙂 ben

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Rebecca A. Watson December 16, 2014 at 5:42 am

Hi Ben, Glad you’re feeling better every day. Honestly, that’s all we can ask when we walk away from a toxic relationship. And I think that healing is a very nice sign that we have done the right thing, and that shoulding on ourselves only hurts us more. Hugs to you and thanks for your comment!

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Ashley October 13, 2015 at 12:24 am

It’s interesting that we’re all for getting away from unhealthy and dysfunctional partners, but we seem to think that we need to stick it out with family. I’ve come to see that dysfunction is dysfunction no matter who it is. If a relationship doesn’t come along with warm and fuzzy feelings, then that’s a neon sign telling me it’s time to evaluate things. The “obligation” of blood is no reason to spend time with someone that drains us or frustrates us. Yes, it’s important to offer a shoulder of support and to understand we all have hard times, but sometimes relationships need a break so that we can heal and stop old patterns.

I feel the most important thing is that we’re true to ourselves. I don’t believe in doing things just to do them. I believe in doing things that make me happy, get me excited, and feel right. If I don’t have those feelings then that’s because something’s wrong. I’ve stopped talking with my mother, but I’m not really angry with her. It’s more that our relationship is superficial. I need it to go to another level, but my mother is insistent on staying stuck in the past and blaming everyone for everything over taking responsibility. This wasn’t clear to me in the beginning. At first I found myself making phone calls less and less because I seldom felt compelled to talk with her. I just stopped thinking of doing it all together. I eventually began evaluating this, and I came to see that this relationship was more about obligation and making my mother feel good than it was about me having a fulfilling relationship with the women who brought me into the world. The day I feel compelled to call my mother, I’ll do it, but until then I focus on doing what has me feeling right and balanced.

On another note, I don’t discuss my relationship with my mother with anyone. A few people, sure, but only with those who can understand where I’m coming from. My sister thinks I’m going about it wrong, but I don’t go into it with her. I simply let her know that this is what I feel I need right now, and I drop it at that. I don’t feel the need to explain or defend because this is about doing what I know to be right for me. No reason to feel guilty. I’m simply listening to my heart and allowing myself the space I need today. I would hope that no one else would let themselves feel guilty for stepping away from a broken relationship. This isn’t about cutting ties. If anything, it initiates thought and evaluation that gets us to think about why things aren’t working and how we can address it. Important boundaries, ideas, and approaches are able to be developed. This is a VERY good thing, and it’s precisely what SAVES relationships. I don’t doubt that my lack of words gives my mother more to think about than anything I’ve ever said.

If our relationship is important and has a place in the future, then the both of us will venture down a path that makes this possible. If not, then we’re both freed from the frustration of our differences. Bitterness and resentment can be quite ugly. It’s seems pretty obvious to me that distancing ourselves from this negativity is not only wise, but necessary. The only constant in life is change though, so we’ll see what I have to say this time next year. 😉

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