My sister and I used to get along but not nowadays. We have very different world views and opinions. We approach differences completely differently to each other. The relationship was strained anyway and then we didn’t speak for a several years after a minor incident which escalated. We were and are furious with each other.
Things improve. Now, years later, my sister and I are able to be in the same room and be as polite as we would with anyone else. We can share a joke.
The difference of opinion significantly impacted other close familial relationships too. People were quick to divide up. A large Irish/English family fractures quickly.
From my perspective those who gossiped did not stay in contact with me or help Missy when she needed Aunts and Cousins the most. My pulse just elevated remembering how they didn’t offer so much as a kind word to Missy when they knew she was a 12 year old in her most sorrowful and darkest hour.
The people that stayed in touch were those that recognised how hurtful the whole situation was, shared with me that they were sorry we were having difficulty and then filled the sister-void in small ways.
There is a great deal of judgement from acquaintances when they try to talk about the situation. They say we were very close as children, they try to gossip and take sides but I make them stop. They tell me they just don’t understand such a failure because they’d never fall out with their siblings like this. “They” are not my close circle.
It separated the wheat from the chaff, and I was completely ok that the chaff blew away.
The intense feelings of upset lasted for 16 weeks. It took 16 weeks to go from ouch to ok. Then another couple of months to get to “huh, this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be”.
Within the year I would have a few moments where a situation reminded me of the difficulty or even of the fun we used to have and I would be emotionally moved.
Watching Wicked – The Musical made me break down in tears when the two witches sang about how even though they were estranged, because they’d known each other they’d been changed for good.
This leads me on to the idea of self worth and self determination. These are not selfish nor lofty ideals. They are a protection in a difficult world.
It is a persons right to listen to their intellect and instincts. If someone is hurting you or causing you harm, and if it cannot be rectified, you have the right to be away from that damage. It doesn’t matter if you were born into the same family, if it is causing injury feel free to manage the relationship in a way that causes you no further harm.
The benefit of difficulty with the family for me was it encouraged me to broaden my friendship group, to look out for those that were in the buddy market, to accept invitations and to begin inviting people to events myself. Having the opportunity to meet and get to know new people was a blessing in disguise. Having breathing space away from contention was good for the soul. Taking a break from alt-facts and comments which invariably ended up at my ears was the respite my emotions needed.
Becoming more comfortable with being completely separate and independent from family was difficult but achievable.
Now, when we visit with each other it is because it firstly causes no injury and secondly is enjoyable. Then Missy and I get back in the car and head home. It is a great feeling.
A few of the relationships which were damaged improved. However, I didn’t need them to improve to make me feel better. It is just a by-product of being ok with the decisions made and giving things time. If the relationships had never improved, that’d be ok.
People will say what people say, that’s ok, that is not your problem. It is ok to have the courage of your convictions, it is ok to say “I see things very differently to that”. Try to see the other side, if there is no healthy alternative, take the break you think you need. It is fine to advocate for yourself, be humble enough to say sorry if and when it is your fault, have the courage of your convictions even if that means a fair and frank exchange of ideas.