Family Woes and Wars

Ah family. You love them, you hate them, you want them around, but not too close. When you’re down, sometimes you can count on them to bring you up, but sometimes, the only thing they do is bring you down lower.  They can be supportive, but they can also be the most insensitive people in your life. You go to them for food, but sometimes, when you need emotional support, you just need to get away from them.  Sometimes, they are the source of your strength, but sometimes, they can also be the source of the stories you have in your head. What stories? Stories like “oh you can’t do that,” or “you’ll be overweight because it’s in your genes.” Well it’s not. It’s in your habits.  Some of them you want to be with all the time, but others you could do without.  They are the double edged sword that God created and put in your hands.

You love them, there is no doubt about that, but what happens when you want to put up some boundaries between yourself and them? I had this conversation with a friend the other day, and we both felt that that was one of the most difficult things to do when it comes to family. Remember, apart from being people you love, these people also know you well enough to play with your emotions and make you feel so guilty that you actually believe that you have no place on earth.  However, because they are connected to you by blood, sometimes your family does feel like there is no distinction between you and them.

Of course in yogic concepts, there is the belief that everyone and everything are interconnected. However, we are only human, and sometimes, we just need space to breathe.  Sometimes, you really need to put boundaries up. But how do you do it? How do you let them know that sometimes, you just don’t want to do this thing that they want you to do. Sometimes, you don’t want to go to so and so’s wedding.  And it’s not EVERY time that you want to give things a miss, just the very few but you’re made to feel so bad about it. I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I just feel helpless and powerless in the face of family. In face to be honest, sometimes, I feel a bit like my space is violated.

The problem with this showdown is that you really can’t change anyone else.  You can only change yourself.  There are times you can communicate things, but what happens when you do communicate things and are faced with even more guilt? Go back to that line about only being able to change yourself.  You’ll also hear it come out from the people you’re trying to communicate your dissatisfaction with.  So what happens when your family isn’t particularly supportive, but leans on you when they need it? What happens when the give is expected of you?  What happens when you only hear from them when they want something? It’s hard to swallow but it’s what family is like sometimes.  Many a time I have gotten a sappy message from a relative and asked my mum, “so I just got a message from so and so, are they planning to come over here?”  8 times out of 10, the answer is, “yes.”

These are the people who have a lot of power in your life, and sometimes although you feel that you should be giving them all, or putting them before all, they might not feel the same.  Sometimes, it’s hard when you’ve been accommodating all along, but you decide that you’re done doing that.  There will be guilt, and sometimes you will be made to feel like such an awful person because you choose to meet them half way instead of bending backwards, but for your own peace of mind, and personal growth, sometimes that is just what you need to do.  I’ve learned that relationships start with family.  If you start bending over backwards there, you will bring that backbend into your friendships and love relationships.

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