The latest trend in self-care is to walk away from those things that are toxic in your life. Whether that is work, people, family – if it creates issues we are advised to cut all ties. It seems to be such simple advice. It promises you that you won’t have all those problems ever again and life will once more be unicorns and rainbows with sparkly starts.
What we do not talk about is the journey that we go through to get to that crossroad. We definitely do not discuss the road after that choice. I am going to share mine, because above all I believe in honesty, in delving into the why and the consequences and understanding more about myself. In this case, this will also be my catharsis so that I can go from being spun glass petrified that the next hit will shatter me to the person I know I am.
So what got me to today?
I have never made my family life a secret. I was the unwanted child and that was compounded by not being male. My parents were 19 when I arrived, and my stubbornness to ensure that I have some say in my life, meant all the attempts to boot me before my due date failed. They did the best they could – two people who were really not suited for each other. A mother desperate for the continued attention and pandering. A father who sought anything in a skirt to lose himself for a few hours.
I was never quite enough. 90% on a test and the question was why not 100%. In a sports team, and why didn’t I try a little harder. I was not to own anything of my own – my sister had preference on all things. By the time #3 arrived it was clear that my place in life was to look after the family. Of course when #3 passed away, the family unit disintegrated and I was left to hold the pieces. Balancing school, teenage hormones and angst and running a household never makes for good self esteem.
Naturally I too was looking for my way out, and luckily (?) found that in setting up my own home at 19, and in my parents footsteps, also with someone incompatible. That was the next chasm that opened. Suddenly I wasn’t available to handle the family issues, I wasn’t available to help my sister. If anything I was the reason she did everything she did because I set the bad example. It was my fault she was in an abusive relationship, my fault they got divorced and my fault she remarried a man that was also incompatible.
I moved on. We were family after all, and since I wasn’t important enough to visit often, I could suppress the hurt and pain.
The next sin was to move 1/2 way around the world and become totally inaccessible. I have been here 13 years now, and I can count on 2 hands the number of times my family have reached out. We started off by me sending a monthly update, my sister was in the UK for a short period and the family reacted so well to that, that I thought I would copy the same. I never once got a response. So I stopped. If I don’t reach out, I hear nothing. But we carried on, because family is the most important factor in your life – isn’t it?
That happened last week. The final strand that I could not tolerate. I know my parents made many mistakes and in my own growth, I understand that they were doing the best they knew with the resources they had. I may not be enough for them, and my children may be also by default not enough, but that is ok, since we made a life here and made ourselves enough for ourselves. We didn’t need their validation.
But back to that straw. My sister berated my mother and basically told mum that she wants nothing to do with her, that she wants nothing to do with her will or estate and my mother should just remember she is nothing. This is after my sister and her son used my mothers car for 6 months and handed it back damaged. After my sister has gotten my mother to uproot multiple times to “help” her (which is more of an “I need you around so you can take the blame for my poor choices”). This was done in front of other family.
Never any consequences for the words that are uttered. The view that the world owes her (and my father) something because they have been hard done by. Ignoring the fact that this happened due to their choices. The world MUST revolve around them, and woe betide anyone who does not jump high enough when they want something. Don’t try reach out until they want something, because that is frowned upon.
My mother is not innocent in this, but I have made a commitment to her retirement facility, so that channel has to stay open. I am her ATM and that has taken years to accept and get over.
The path of no contact
This weekend, I blocked all those that I could no longer allow access to my life because of the state in places me in. It wasn’t the easiest decision by any means. For 24 hours I felt free – I no longer had to watch the hypocrisy on FB or read those fucking inane memes about how “love laugh live” and “inner peace” is the path to a good life. Even the ones trotted out about “treat others as you want to be treated”. I may be naïve in this respect, but it really confuses me how people do not see the difference in what they say against their actions.
Then the emails started. I refused to be drawn in and yesterday was spent feeling very low but sticking to my decision. I was leveraging the consequence and I was doing it for myself and my health. This morning’s email just swept my feet out from under me. The level of lack of self-awareness and inability to see what they were doing just destroyed me. I have had my character vilified and I am told I am worse than the lowest form of life.
I am not allowed to own my pain and hurt. I am not allowed to react to the pain that those around me cause. I am not allowed to walk away and villainise someone – which I never did. I never pointed any fingers. I never said a bad word. All I said was that I owed no one access to my life and I didn’t have to explain myself. I was tired of everyone playing voyeur and coming up with stupid conclusions.
Continuing on the path
Going no contact is hard. Especially when your whole life you are told family first always. Today I sit here and I really feel like spun glass – one more hit and I will shatter. R is watching me super carefully and I feel bad for placing this extra burden on him.
This post may come across as bitter but I am not. Really not. I have made the choice and I am aware of the consequences. I will accept those. I have built a life here in Aus. A damn good one. My work is really starting to take off – I am appreciated, I am utilising all my skills and learning some new ones, I am building locally and globally and my voice is heard. My children are doing ok. My ex and I are good friends and we spend time with each other. R and I have a good relationship and even being under each others feet 24/7 hasn’t damaged that.
For all those who walk this path, I feel your pain, your guilt, your anguish. This is part of the consequence of our choice. I am not sure if this gets better – I have just started on this path. I know there will be many days that I will want to reopen those channels, but I cannot. It will be another one day at a time scenario. I still believe in unicorns, rainbows and sparkles and hope that one day they will become self-aware and see the damage they have caused.