It is 12:30 and my mind has yet to shut down. It has been a little while since I have had to deal with the issue of a wakeful mind in the middle of the night, I think I have become spoiled by slipping easily into slumber these last few months. I still have bad dreams regularly, as I always have, but I recover quicker and am usually able to fall back to sleep with ease. I have a lot banging around in my head tonight and so far my techniques to help silence my mind have not worked so here I am hoping to give a voice to anything that needs it so I can eventually rest.
Last week was emotionally heavy and although I am proud of how I showed up for myself tomorrow it will be time to revisit all of it and process it with my therapist. I don’t want to. My boundaries were tested really hard last week, my family of origin fell into minor crisis due to one family member’s crisis that spiraled. I felt like the whole family was looking at me to pull everyone out of it, especially the main person experiencing the initial crisis. I want to support my family when they need me and would love to welcome their support in return but right now I am cautious. My family has a history of boundary issues, that most people in my family ignore and deny, and ultimately as much as I love my family being involved on that level is not emotionally healthy or safe for me right now.
I create boundaries within each relationship and in a few cases they are repeated violated. Some of the time I feel it is because the individuals just do not understand boundaries on any level and it is not a malicious violation, other times I feel like the person is deliberately attempting to manipulate me. Either way I have to protect myself and take care of me first.
I had an honest conversation with the person in crisis about my boundaries explaining that ultimately it was no one’s responsibility to save them or take care of them. They are an adult and have to be responsible for their own well-being. I know that sounds harsh but this person is involved in multiple co-dependent relationships within put family system and has a history of being enabled. I will not take part. And that was my truth, I cannot make you feel better, no one can. You have to love yourself enough to show up for yourself and take care of hurting pieces. This led to a very deep conversation that I was not prepared for but that ended with this person requesting a referral for a therapist who specializes in trauma. I reached out to my therapist who offered a few options.
After this talk I was emotionally spent but balanced it all with self-care and recovered quickly. It did not absorb the rest of that day, it existed in that moment, I took care of me, and moved on.
Later in the week another family member called to check in with me about the first family member- I did not want to be involved on this level. I do not want to talk about this person’s well being with other family members, I am not responsible for this person’s well being, I do not want to have family pow-wows about it. I tried to keep the conversation short and to the point. The family member specifically said that I need to follow up with the family member in crisis and make sure they are okay etc etc. I said No. I did my part, they reached out and asked for help, I helped in a way I felt comfortable but that is it. I am not going to follow up, I am not going to hold them accountable for taking care of themselves, I am not going to insert myself into this person’s life.
I could feel that the family member who told me to do this was taken back a bit. This is not the first time I have asserted these kinds of boundaries with this person but each time it seems to come as some kind of shock. Not my concern.
I felt okay about how everything ended up. Now I have to go and really process all of it with my therapist though. The thing about setting boundaries with people who have none is that event the smallest boundary can feel like a ten foot wall. Every time I have to do this with my family I feel a deeper connection to myself and my own well being AND I feel a fracture with the family member.
In my family I do not feel boundaries are understood, I do not feel they are welcome, and they are often tested and violated. It feels like going into battle all the time. I constantly have to have my shield up, it is exhausting.
Something that I really struggle with too is that people are not honest about how hard family dynamics are. All families are hard! I have never ever ever met someone who did not struggle with their family from time to time, we all do, but we hide from it in public spaces. And you know I get that, I don’t want to air my dirty laundry anymore than the next person.. I think it is back to the high light reel I struggle with. People putting up the perfect photos and only presenting one way, never acknowledging the whole truth.. It is fake and completely invalidating for everyone else who knows families are hard work.
I was at internship recently and someone I was working with read a quote to me that talked about how sometimes poisonous people come disguised as family. Immediately I was like, Yeah- I totally get it. This person went on about how cynical that quote was and acted like it was a lie. Um.. Hello denial. I mean I am an idealist but even I can’t rose-colored-glasses family dynamics, they can be super messy. I shared my truth about the quote which is that it is an important perspective because it allows people who have been hurt by their families to be recognized as well and have a place at the table. We have to stop allowing things like this, difficult family relationships and dynamics, to only exist in the shadows! It is something we all deal with but we make it so taboo that it makes us feel shame.
I am not a bad daughter because I need distance at times, I am not a bad family member because I recognize my own worth and make my own well being a priority. I am also not a bad family member because I am honest about how overwhelmed my family makes me feel at times. I know I am not wrong or bad because at the bottom of all of this is love. Love for myself and love for my family. True love is being honest. It is doing your best. It is using assertive communication to express what your needs are while respecting the needs of others. Love is empowering those you love to show up honestly in relationships as well.
I love my family. I am grateful to be apart of the family I belong to. I also recognize all the times in my life I suffered at the hands of my family members and refuse to abandon the pieces of myself that need love as a result. Being honest about how you feel around touchy topics such as family relationships does not make you bad or unlovable, it just makes you honest.