When I was 15 my parents started to get divorced. At 16 my mom and I moved out of the house after a pretty fucked up situation that made me respect her even more than I already did. To some it up, she threw herself to the wolves instead of letting me ruin my relationship with my dad. What also came out of that was she lost my brother. It has been 10 years since my brother stopped talking to my mom. It has been 6 years since he stopped talking to me and while the reasoning for why he stopped talking to her makes sense, even though he only knows half of the story and he wasn’t actually present like I was to see what actually happened. Why he stopped talking to me doesn’t.
The thing that frustrates me about this whole situation is that when he stopped talking to me, he cut himself off from my whole family on both sides. While a few family members on my dad’s side still see him every once and a while the vast majority only know what I do, and that’s nothing. Every holiday I now expect to be asked about him, to be told to keep trying, to tell me that it is up to me to bring him back.
In reality it isn’t.
My brother is an adult. If he wants to not have contact with his family that is his choice. If he doesn’t want to have contact with me that is his choice. It is also my choice whether or not I should put myself through the emotional mess of dealing with the fact that I have someone out there who shares the same DNA as me and wants nothing to do with me. I throw that box on the top shelf of my closet and hide it behind all of my other baggage.
I am often told that I should just contact him, write a letter every once and a while. This again ignores that I am doing all of the emotional output in this relationship. I care about my brother, I care that he is well, I care that he is happy but at what expense should I care about him when he has little regard for my own wellbeing?
If you know someone who is estranged from their sibling stop giving advice and just listen. You probably know very little about what actually happened. Shit I was involved and I still don’t know exactly why he stopped talking to me but I’m sick of sitting around and caring. If he comes back then he comes back, if he doesn’t well then he is missing out.
The idea of New Year’s resolutions to me has never seemed like something I wanted to do; it was in a way saying that I need to wait until a new year has begun to do the things I wanted to with my life. The truth is that if you want to change something about your life do it when it feels right. Don’t wait until everyone changes something that they want to resolve to do but change it because it has become important to you, or you see that it is necessary for your own happiness.
A few weeks ago I had a discussion with my roommate about the way I live my life, I am so comfortable being an activist for the politics that I believe are important, but find it difficult to be an activist for the life that I want and the relationships I want to have. I often allow others to choose how I spend time with them, being ok with the lack of caring they have for me when I would go to the limit for them. I am that type of person, you ask me for something and I will do it, no matter what.
What this comes down to is that it is draining for me to continue on like this. There are certain people who make me feel mentally drained when I am around them and that is not ok. I want to actively pursue my own happiness and with that it means that sometimes I have to choose to do things my own way.
With all this in mind, I have created a list of points that I want to work on from now until whenever I master them. They are something that can be used a a guidebook in how to have a successful relationship / friendship etc.
- Create standards that others in your life are aware of – Tell people your belief system, the things that hurt your feeling (proudly), and what are topics that you don’t want discussed in your presence. An explanation might be necessary to let them know why you don’t enjoy what they are talking about, and this is where preparing a speech beforehand works perfect. While you might not be able to declare that certain subjects are off topic, I find the most insulting are the use of words that I clearly am offended by used in my presence. These are no goes.
- Surround yourself with people who wholeheartedly support your passions and interests – I say this without stating that they have to agree with them. The truth is that if someone truthfully cares for you, the differences between you can be put aside most of the time and should be if they respect you as a person. If they truthfully care for you, they will want to know what your doing, and actually allow you to talk about it.
- Set standards on how you expect to be treated – This again comes down to personal respect, the only way others can understand how you feel is if you communicate it to them effectively.
- Make yourself number 1 – In the end if this doesn’t work, or a relationship is too stressful to make it worth it for you, leave. It doesn’t do anyone any good if you hate being around people, but refuse to tell them or yourself that you don’t want to be there.
I have come to the conclusion that I know this will mean certain people in my life will probably no longer be there, but if they valued me as I valued them I think theses simple terms shouldn’t scare them away. Sometimes it takes someone, such as my roommate or another outside source to give you a truthful perspective of the situation. What that means for me is that I don’t communicate to people about how I expect to be treated, so they have no clue that it is even an issue.
Mastering effective communication for one please…