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Posts Tagged ‘forgive’

For my sisters and the rest of my family. I love you, but I can’t let your love make me who I am.

I would love to tell you that I don’t care what people think about me. I admire the rare few who truly can brush off  what other people think and move forward in their lives. Specifically, I recently realized, that out of all the people in the world, I care so much what my family thinks of me.

In the last couple of weeks I have experienced conflict from some family members. Some of it was small and seemingly insignificant, and some of it was a bit larger in scale. I have spent a few weeks trying to process the feelings that I have had since these conflicts and I have come up dry. As an aftermath of this conflict, my days are filled constantly with disturbing thoughts, sleepless nights, nightmares when I do sleep, and a general apathy in life. Call it temporary depression.

Part of what I have been trying to process is if my family really knows me at all. I can think back to when I was much younger and I can remember censoring myself any time I felt like there would be a conflict. I don’t think my sisters would agree with this because I was also very passionate and emotional. And of course conflicts still happened, especially with my sisters. But as I have grown older I think the only difference is that I am more clever at masking myself. I do this simply, by keeping my mouth shut. A couple years ago I had this huge revelation that when my sisters hurt me I would completely dismiss what they had done and I would keep letting them hurt me. The problem, I realized, is that I would forgive them without ever telling them how they hurt me. And I would forgive them because I was so afraid of what would happen if I didn’t. My sisters are everything to me and I finally realized that this attitude wasn’t exactly healthy. So I started by letting myself feel angry when they did something that angered me, feel pain when they hurt me, and in my own small way I started setting boundaries. But soon after this revelation I moved away from them. Our relationship didn’t seem to be any different, in fact I think I may have gotten closer to them.

After I moved away I had another revelation. This is when I figured out that I cared so much about what my sisters thought of me that I was blind to who I really was. I went through a small identity crisis. I had been removed from two people whom I deeply cared for and respected  and whom I have always wanted to be like (sometimes I hate being the youngest sister). Things started to change in small ways. At first I had a real problem shopping for clothes. I had always gotten approval from my middle sister on what clothes to buy, and when I didn’t get exact approval I would pick something out that I knew she would pick out for herself. Well, all of a sudden I didn’t know what she was wearing and I couldn’t ask her to tell me what I should wear. Things with my eldest sister didn’t seem to change much, for the six months before I left we lived just minutes away from each other. This allowed us to grow much closer and we seemed to always be around each other. When I moved, we would “hang out” on the phone. We talked for hours and hours. For the first year I was gone we would talk like this once or twice a week and then that slowed down, which is ok. She even has taken the time out of her busy life to visit me. I have seen her more than any family member or friend since I have moved away.

But I digress. Recently I have been forced to re-evaluate our relationship with one another. And I have discovered that I am not sure my sister really knows me. This isn’t all her fault because, once again, I have allowed her to only see what I wanted her to see. The other half to the equation is that I think my family still sees me as that broken, awkward, angry, twelve year old whom they have to “appease” just to have a decent relationship with. I wasn’t the easiest to grow up with. I always demanded my own way, little things would set me into a rampage, all the while confused and wondering why my parents weren’t together anymore. Well I have news to my family, I am not twelve anymore.

I don’t really know where to go from here. Any time I have been vulnerable I seem to be met with opposition. I care so much about how my family feels that I still censor who I am to them. My parents, my sisters, my cousins, my aunts, my grandpa, etc…. Only know pieces of who I am.

Recently I have been prompted to think about “community”. My conclusion is that being a part of a community means being supported, accepted, and walked along side in life. It means compromise. It means vulnerability. It means truth and grace. And for the first time in my life I feel like I have found a healthy community. but I find this somewhat sad. I can’t seem to figure out why I can not have this with the people who are closest to me. Family has always been the most important thing to me. When my other sisters dreaded visiting my extended family in New York, I was ecstatic. At least until I was in high school and I realized that most of my family was rude and I shouldn’t have to put myself in that position. But I digress again. The point is, I love my family. I basically bring myself to tears when I think of my grandparents, my aunts and uncles and my cousins, my sisters and my parents.

I guess I am slowly realizing that my feelings for my family are not exactly healthy. In fact I think they are somewhat co-dependent. I don’t think that three weeks of feeling disturbed just because of a conflict is natural. Especially when the conflict is because the person basically just misunderstood me and judged me. Either I should have had the confidence to respond honestly, or I shouldn’t have cared what the person thought in the first place, since they were wrong about who they think I am.

I am moving forward from this point on. Acknowledging my unhealthy behavior and co-dependency is the first step. I am at peace knowing I have a God who knows me and calls me His beloved. 

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I am not a perfectionist. I have a high tolerance for messes, when I try something new I don’t follow the instructions thoroughly, and when I do cook, I don’t like to make sure the measuring cup is exactly even and measured. I can’t stand watching people in distress over spilled milk, a pile of laundry, or something not being lined up perfectly. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling after the clothes are folded and put away and when the kitchen counters are free of clutter and dirt, and I don’t find it easy to relax when when there is a lot of clutter in front of me.

I have aways been reprimanded at my job for working with dirty counters and for spilling whatever it is that I am working worth. At first this response shocked me because I love to organize and I do love the feeling of everything clean and put in it’s place. I have been processing this for years (really!), all the while finding it irritating when a co-worker would comment on the “mess” in front of me (especially when they wouldn’t give me time to clean it up and would just do it for me).

Here is my conclusion… I am A-OK operating around a mess until I have time to take care of it. And I really love organizing and putting things in their place. When I am done doing all that, I can sit back and relax and enjoy the reward of my hard work. I appreciate the process.

Compare this to the healing in our lives. Healing isn’t all rainbows and roses. It hurts. Healing brings up the dirt and the grime that we have let build up while our issues are sitting on the shelf collecting dust. And healing doesn’t happen right away. Sometimes, we have to even work around our issues while we live our lives because we are dealing with another one. And this is all OK. Even though the spilled milk will rot if it isn’t taken care of, the dishes that need to be put away are going to be just fine until I can get around to it. The anger I have in my life will hurt those around me, but my sensory defensiveness will be ok until due time.

Healing is a process. We might have to work on one thing at a time, little by little, we might cry, we might be completely confused. That’s just how healing works. When we think we have it all under wraps, we might just be done with only a piece of it for now.

We should rejoice when we have small revelations, when we figure out a method for dealing with something in our lives, when we are able to talk things out with a friend or counselor, or when we are finally able to forgive someone for hurting us.

The process is beautiful.

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