I took off photographs from the wall. They no longer serve their purpose.
I also unfriend someone very important. Until just recently.
It is sort of liberating.
Everything is crystal clear now.
I never mattered.
So, why should they?
When blood is thicker than water, but it’s so thick and so toxic, it’s drowning you.
Most everyone has a family member, friend, colleague, neighbor, or some person who is a strain to get along with.
Getting on a mutual wavelength just doesn’t happen. Communication is clunky, awkward, and uncomfortable. You find yourself making excuses to stay away or cut contacts short. You can never seem to enjoy being in the presence of one another. Your connection with that person becomes weaker and weaker until sometimes, you avoid or fade it out completely.
Yet something lingers. Perhaps you could have done better; maybe there is some key to connecting that you couldn’t figure out.
Family, by definition, is a group of people related by birth, marriage, and legal parameters. The expectation existing all around us is that these relations are a good thing or meant to be a good thing. Blood is thicker than water and all that. The simple reality I encounter is that no matter the birth lineage or inheritance of relations, it does not necessarily mean these individuals relate or fit with one another. Some families are like jigsaw puzzles whose pieces got placed in the wrong box.
Figuring out how to navigate differences, misunderstandings, and balancing individual needs in a group environment is a lot. It takes so many skills to get good at it while also requiring the temperament and constitution to tolerate the ruptures. When problems multiply, affections become deeply alienated; we can become estranged. It is painful when people you expect to support you don’t. Unexpressed, unresolved feelings can wreak havoc.
Estrangement, by definition, is a relationship that has soured and turned distant, even somewhat hostile. An estranged relationship causes discomfort. No one likes to run their fingers along splintered wood, and unless you find an emotional lathe, there is almost always some hurt.
AUTHOR: MARTINE J. BYER
Though this article in my personal opinion is somewhat incomplete, there are some points here that resonate with what I’m going through that, in the end, I decided to share it here. If I am the one who wrote it, I would elaborate and go further with details and give it a proper closure which seems to be lacking. Just a thought.
… that’s what I always say to myself when I feel so bad I want to give up.
When it hurts so much I literally double up from the pain.
I tell myself every time I encounter injustice and people treat me bad because of who I am.
It’s okay, don’t cry.
I say to myself when people that matter to me forget I exist.
And I miss them terribly.
It’s okay to feel sad, lonely, miserable, isolated and misunderstood.
It’s okay not to sleep. It’s okay not to eat. It’s okay to suffer and it’s okay not to feel safe.
For years I tell myself it’s okay. What’s happening to me is normal. It’s okay.
Yesterday I thought:
It’s not okay.
It’s not okay that I have so much pain physically.
And emotionally I’m empty.
Psychologically I’m a wreck.
It’s not okay that my family betrayed me, my ex abused me and people took advantage of my generosity.
It’s not okay that I don’t see my children much and it’s not okay that the person I care about the most is taken away from me.
It’s not okay.
In fact, I feel bad and some days I want to end it all.
And today I am really convinced that it’s the right thing to do.
I have only one wish:
That I see my Sunshine once more and hold her again in my arms and kiss those soft cheeks.
Then I’m going to sleep.
Twilight is here again the sun is sinking down
Another day had passed soon it will be dark
Tomorrow in the East the sun will rise again
But without you by my side, nothing really matters.
The garden is empty devoid of all flowers
I know they will be there again come next Spring
But whatever season as long as you’re not here
Believe me, in my heart it is always Winter.
Birds always come back to their nests before dark
Will you be home again tomorrow? Next day perhaps?
I’ll be waiting for you every day all my life
I hope you will return before I close my eyes.
__ Your Glam-Ma
I still think of you every day.
But I’m trying not to let it hurt me with the same intensity that it used to.
And as painful as it is, it still kind of warms me to know I will always carry a part of you inside of me.
Everybody wants their own little place in the world. And maybe mine is here… Loving you from a distance…
This is me since I decided to stay away. Your absence created a giant hole inside of me that can never be replaced. I tried to patch the gap but nothing fits. Only you can fill this special place. I think of you every single second I breathe and it hurts! It hurts not seeing you grow up. It hurts not being part of your life but I’m helpless. The price I have to pay to see you is something I can’t afford. What can I teach you if being with you means I have to give up my self-respect and dignity? How can I be any use to you if holding you in my arms means I have to forget the person that I am and abandon everything I believe in? No, I can’t do that. Not even for you. I cannot compromise my self-respect for love. I have to keep my integrity right down to the end or otherwise what is the use of living? My pride is all I’ve got. I will not surrender my self-worth. Never. So, I will love you from a distance and hope you will have the freedom to grow up to be your true self, not the one society and your upbringing dictates. You will never know how much I long for you but it doesn’t matter because I know. It’s for me enough. Be happy always. Be safe.
You will always be a part of me.
I hope someday you will have a chance to read this and know that I care. In my mind, we share a lot of happy moments. In my dream I watch you grow up to be a beautiful person I know you will one day become. On your first Christmas, I imagined I gave you a little box, a present, and watched how you’ve tried to open it and kissed the smile on your innocent face when you succeeded. I would love to take you everywhere with me and teach you the importance of little things and share with you my love for nature and freedom. I realized it is far-fetched but I imagine we are kindred-spirit. Perhaps you will not even know me but I love you just the same. Fly free and soar high my Oona. You will always be loved.
~ from your eccentric but loving Glam-Ma
by Grace Furman
We all have family members we butt heads with over our taste in music, life choices, or politics. Typically we choose to put in the required effort to work through the problem or, depending on the issue, just smile politely and let it go.
A toxic relationship, however, is a relationship in which one person is emotionally and possibly physically damaging the other on a consistent basis.
Just because someone is a part of your family does not make this behavior acceptable.
Your top priority must be your own health and emotional well-being. If someone else is jeopardizing those, then you need to make changes to remedy the situation.
So how can you determine whether someone is toxic?
Here are some examples of things that toxic family members might do:
Clearly, these behaviors create an unhealthy environment and can have many negative effects on your health and well-being.
If your relationship with a family member is toxic, the only thing you can control is your response. You must decide what to do in order to take care of yourself.
Here are 10 ways to cope with toxic family members:
1. Set Boundaries.
Determine what are acceptable and unacceptable ways for you to be treated.
Everyone is worthy of respectful treatment, yourself included. You deserve to be happy, healthy, loved, and safe.
Decide what your specific needs are and how others can or cannot treat you in order to meet those needs. You can then ensure that they will be met by implementing number two below.
2. Stand Up For Yourself.
When toxic family members cross the lines of the boundaries you set, you must stand up for yourself.
This can be scary and challenging, but it is important to be upfront and honest with them about your needs and expectations.
You can take charge of your life and the way you are treated by letting them know when they have done something unacceptable.
3. Stop Making Excuses.
Do not make excuses for someone else’s unacceptable behavior.
While they may try to blame you or others, the truth is that they alone are responsible for their choices and resulting actions.
When you make excuses for someone’s behavior, you are supporting it and allowing it to continue. If you have set reasonable expectations and been upfront with the family member, then it is their responsibility to act accordingly.
4. Experience Your Emotions.
Dealing with a toxic family member will bring on uncomfortable feelings and difficult emotions.
It is normal to feel anger, sadness, fear, confusion, and more. Instead of trying to push these emotions away, allow yourself the time and space to sit with them and experience them.
This way your body and mind can work through the feelings instead of having them build up inside. It can also prevent unhealthy coping mechanisms from forming.
5. Don’t Take It Personally.
This can be difficult, but try not to take a toxic family member’s words or actions personally. They clearly have their own wellness issues, and that is where this hurtful behavior is stemming from. It is a reflection on them, not on you. Believe in yourself and your worth regardless of anyone else’s opinions or comments.
7. Seek Help.
Dealing with a toxic family member is mentally difficult and emotionally draining, so it will be important for you to have sufficient outside support.
Share your struggles with close, trusted friends or family. Read books about coping with toxic family members to hear other people’s stories and gain further insights and strategies.
8. Practice Self-Care.
Practicing self-care is vital to mental health, and it becomes particularly important while going through an emotionally challenging situation.
Take time away from everything else to spend meditating, journaling, soaking in a hot bath, or whatever you enjoy most. It is helpful to implement daily affirmations.
Speak to yourself with encouragement and self-kindness. Focus on the positive by listing things you are thankful for each day.
Remember that your worth is not lessened just because someone else cannot see it.
9. Be Compassionate.
While challenging, it can be helpful to have compassion toward the toxic family member.
This does not mean you excuse their behavior though. It is simply a recognition that they are not inherently a bad person. Every human being is imperfect.
Their own difficult life circumstances or lack of skills have gotten them to this dark place. We all have our own pain that we are trying to deal with, and we all make mistakes sometimes. This is a part of our common humanity.
10. Cut Them Out.
If the above strategies have not helped to remedy the situation, you will have to decide whether or not you want this toxic family member in your life at all.
Ask yourself if you are getting more pain than joy out of the relationship. If the answer is yes, you may want to cut this person out of your life until they have shown the ability to consistently treat you with respect.
It could be for a couple of weeks or it may be much longer. If nothing changes, it could be permanent.
Relationships are built on respect, trust, and honesty. Everyone deserves these things. Just because a person is related to you, does not mean you owe them anything or that they can treat you however they like. This is especially true when the relationship comes at the expense of your own health and well-being.
Use the above strategies to build up your self-esteem and make the changes you need to ensure you can be happy and healthy. People can change which means that the two of you may be able to repair this relationship.
It will be hard and take a lot of time, but it can be done. However, notice that it is “the two of you.” Both parties must be willing to work together.
Unfortunately, in some cases, it is best to let the relationship go. After you’ve put in as much effort as you can, you will have to decide what’s best for you and your well-being.
Grace Furman is a writer and blogger at Heartful Habits. Heartful Habits is a place of inspiration for what Grace calls living mindfully and heartfully. She loves learning and sharing about wellness tips, natural remedies, beauty DIYs, green cleaners, healthy recipes, social issues, and more. Grace will be regularly contributing to Live Bold and Bloom.
Let me be clear, my love is unconditional, but your presence in my life is not. The moment that you prove that your value of me does not measure up to my sense of self-worth, I’ll have no problem unconditionally loving the memory of you and moving on.
It’s called self-Respect.
Setting boundaries and refusing to be a victim.
It takes courage to say no.
No, I will not be your puppet.
No, I will not be blackmailed. Emotionally or otherwise.
No, you cannot use me.
No, you cannot manipulate me.
I am responsible for saying yes to what feels good and no to what doesn’t.
You don’t own me.
Sadly, there are people who will tell the world that you leave them, and they will say the reason behind the desertion, but they will not admit what they have done to make you decide to walk away from their lives. As they speak the truth that only themselves know about, they are also cleansing their names to wash off the wrongdoings they once made to you that really forced you to abandon the love and friendship you once shared with them.
No. I’m only joking.
I mean shock.
Shock that the person I thought was a role model and a loving dedicated mother could say on the national TV things I would never expect to hear from her. And to think that I used to copy her style back in the 90s. She was fashion-forward, quite unique, creative and out of the box. Now, this…
She is one of the three hosts of a noontime program that centered around family life. No, I don’t follow it. Nor watch. I just know. From time to time a segment would pass through my feed and sometimes I click on it just to see what’s current from the other side of the world and the other day it’s about choices, priorities. Who is more important, a husband or children? That’s the topic. I thought it was old news. Everyone knows that children first and if push comes to shove and a mother has to choose, no second thought: children it is. A partner you can replace. Easily. But your own kids… c’mon, they are part of you, your own flesh and blood. You’ve carried each of them for nine months, take care of them till they are old enough to attend to themselves and even then, your task as a parent will never finish till you are dead and buried. How could you prioritize your partner over your children? It’s for me unthinkable.
I know there is an exception in every rule. Like if despite all your effort your child becomes so toxic to your existence that there is no other choice but to cut the umbilical cord. But that isn’t the same as choosing between your partner and your offspring. You are choosing for yourself and what is best for your well-being.
Apparently, not everyone thinks the same. At least, not that female host. Her co-hosts are on my side but she is adamant that she has to put her husband first before her children. Like I said I was shocked! And what surprised me, even more, was the fact that their guest expert on the topic was with her 100%.
It’s like saying if your partner and child are drowning or trapped in a burning building you are going to save your husband first instead of the other way around?
I can’t wrap my mind around that ridiculous idea. In my book, if someone thinks this way she doesn’t deserve to be a mother.
How about you?
What do you think?
Probably you will argue:
Always remember that once kids grow up they will leave you and you will have only each other.
Are you sure?
How would you know that he will be there forever?
On the other hand, even when worse comes to worst your children will always be your children no matter what.
I am not saying neglect thy husband. Just don’t make him your priority especially when the children are young and needed you most. And when the time comes to choose. Never choose him above your children. Never. No matter what.
The legendary tumbleweed is really a nurse crop that protects the growth of prairie grasses under its shade, and then sacrifices itself and blows away.
Almost everyone I know has something of an ancestral house. Somewhere they can always go back to from wherever fate decided to move them across the globe. A place where they could reunite with their families and friends and talk about childhood memories. Somewhere they feel safe and truly belonged. Most people have hometowns, alma maters, reunions, people they grew up with and neighbors who know them from babyhood. I know people who married their childhood sweethearts, the next-door neighbor or a sibling of their best friend. Their children know each other and go out together forming the next generation of youngsters who will follow the footsteps of their parents. Most people have a family and a home where their roots are firmly planted in a solid foundation, where their history lies and written. I don’t have those.
I don’t even come back to the place where I was born since we left before I was even a year old. Alma mater, what is that? I changed school like I change underwear. Same with hometowns. If I would like to visit where I grew up I have to go to hundreds of different places and meet thousands of different people who may not remember me at all since we leave before everything gets too familiar. Roots? What’s that? I was a tumbleweed rolling where the wind blows, no destination, without purpose.
Family is something alien to me. Not only I don’t have a place to go back to, but I have also no one to come back to. Don’t ask. It’s just the way it is. Likewise, with friends, I don’t have them either. What I had were familiar strangers whom I shared a one time experience with before I move to another chapter of my existence. Go back (even for a visit) I can’t. Somehow I always managed to burn bridges one way or the other. If I don’t someone will do it for me. It’s just the way it is.
Family, friends, hometowns, alma mater, childhood sweethearts, ancestral house, roots, If you have them, I envy you.
You’re growing so fast Sunshine
Your clothes are getting smaller
Your face changing
You are getting bigger
Not in a conventional sense
But you are growing alright
Growing into Oona size
Compact slight petite
Tiny slight pint-sized
All elfin features perfect
A miniature person
Small beautiful Unique
I love the way your toes curl when I kiss them. I love how you look at people with your scrutinizing gaze as if you are studying them weighing knowing understanding. I love the sound of your voice when you are trying to convey your feelings in your own way, without words. I love how you smile when you hear your favorite song and how you listen attentively when your mother read you stories. I love the way your big eyes light up when you are happy and the way your eyelashes touch your cheeks when you’re asleep.
I want you to be happy and healthy Sunshine. I want you to be safe. I hope they are taking care of you properly. You will always be in my heart. I will always be here when you need me. I love you my Oona. My ThumbelOona.
Children are knives. They don’t mean to, but they cut. And yet we cling to them, don’t we, we clasp them until the blood flows.
My daughter always said that when the time comes she will be a better mother than I am because you see when it comes to motherhood (among so many other things) I am a failure in her eyes.
Well, she’s a mother now and her baby is four months old, so far, she didn’t manage to take care of Oona on her own yet. Every day she needs someone to be there because she cannot stand being alone with her daughter. Too demanding, too energy-consuming, too tiring too difficult too scary too everything according to her. She got a list of people (cleaning person maternity help and such not included) in her network and she shuffles their schedules to fit in hers. No questions asked. Just do what she says and everything will run smoothly. That simple. That easy.
She complains that Oona cries a lot and taking too much of her time. In fact, she said she has no life anymore. Duh (eyes rolling) you wanted a baby, suffer the consequences. In fact, Oona cries because she is making her nervous, stressing the baby (and everyone around her) with her regimented rules and schedules. Babies fall asleep when they want to, no need to force them to lie in a darkened room because you find it is time for them to disappear. In my country, we leave them to drop down whenever and wherever they please no matter how unconventional that might be. Like my father said if they fall asleep in a strange position whichever corner they choose, it means they are comfortable there so let them be.
Babies cry when they are hungry so please don’t force-feed them in the hours that you deemed right. Oona is not even allowed to hold her own bottle. Against the rules. The other day She said that Oona is under the weather and agitated. I would be too if I don’t take a bath for four days. She cannot put Oona in the bath alone. Too scary. Besides, Oona doesn’t like water. I wonder why. Probably the same reason why Oona doesn’t like to be dressed up. She squeezes her into clothes that way too small it restricts the baby’s movements. I can imagine how painful it is to wear a romper that there is no room to stretch your legs without putting pressure on your neck. She said she suspects that Oona has pain in the neck. Another duh. If you are a perfect mother, you will notice that you are squeezing your baby into clothes that don’t fit. No?
And if you are too scared to put her in the bath for whatever reason, at least freshen her up a bit, give her sponge bath, start with playfully wetting her hands and feet in lukewarm water either in a basin or under the softly trickling water from the tap. You can apply the same method to wash the hair. Hold her head under the tap but not the face or you can use a plastic cup so you can pour softly and slowly while talking to her describing what you’re doing to distract her. Do it playfully and lovingly as not to scare her. And if you are really worried you might drop the baby or something, do it if necessary in bed putting a waterproof sheet underneath the bath towel. Anything but leaves her unwashed for days!
Not sure what to do? Google it for crying out loud. For sure there are loads of materials out there to get ideas from.
During one of my visits, I had to take Oona for a walk (and Mary the dog) so my daughter could take a rest she said. It was cold, I wear a double hoodie but Oona didn’t have a cap. My daughter either forget to give it or didn’t find it necessary. I know better than to question her judgment. Any question raises about her choices is guaranteed to be met with hysterics that lead to teary arguments and finger-pointing. We had disagreement already over the cap of the perambulator. She wanted me to close it completely sealing Oona in the darkness. What is the point of walking outside if she is not allowed to see anything? A few meters from the house I opened the pram’s cap halfway, picked some yellow flowers that were bending over the fence and hang over the hood where Oona could see them. She liked it.
When we came back, my daughter commented about Oona’s sudden change of mood. The baby looked healthier and obviously happier she said. I think to myself: Of course, she is. Any fool with half sense would know that like with anybody, babies need to go out too. To relax, not to party like my daughter seems to prefer upsetting her own structured schedules for Oona whom she claimed a hypersensitive baby therefore susceptive to too many stimuli. But that’s another of my daughter’s many amazing characteristics; putting her wants and needs first above anyone else. A modus she practices from babyhood with her brother who learned from the cradle it is best to give way than be subjected to teary confrontation. Wonderful.
She’s suffering from post-natal depression ( she said) which costing them money going to a psychiatrist (or is it psychologist?) and all. And guess whose fault is that, her being depressed, mine of course who else. Me and my ex failed to give her a proper upbringing (emotional blackmail anyone?) and all that jazz. Excuses I find. She’s 31 years old. She is married to the boy she had been chasing all her life. They now have one of the four babies she planned a long time ago to have and bring up perfectly, they have a decent house and okay relationship, man up for God’s sake! She practically living her dream. What’s the problem then?
Sometimes I suspect her of using Oona, deliberately agitating the baby and God knows what so she can justify her claim of how difficult her situation is and how brave how wonderful how good how perfect she is to withstand the ordeal of motherhood.
Look around for God’s sake! How other mothers are doing. Are they being overly dramatic? And I mean mothers who had survived a more traumatic experience in their lives than her. There is one among her circle of friends for example. Are they using their history as an excuse to cover their inadequacy?
When I gave birth to her I was barely in my twenties, alone in a foreign country where I didn’t understand nor able to speak the language, living in a tiny studio in the marginal part of the capital with little else to go on. The only view I had was an abandoned building that put fear in my soul. My drunkard thoroughly abusive husband disappeared on weekends leaving us alone with no food and locked me and my daughter outside in the middle of the winter whenever it suited him. I had to beg milk for her from the cafes in the neighborhood and ring bells of various apartments and pleaded to let us in even in the hallway so my daughter will not freeze to death. How’s that for a reason to have post-natal depression?
With all of the horrible things I had experienced, not even once I blamed anyone and feel nothing but love for my children. I never saw them as a bother, upsetting the balance of my life or costing me energy or blaming them for not having a life. Something my daughter is constantly talking about when it comes to Oona. One time, I asked her if she once looks into Oona’s eyes and feels that whatever troubles she’s having taking care of her is all worth it. She said; “I don’t have that. I don’t feel anything. I don’t enjoy motherhood, I don’t see her as all of you see her, she’s costing me too much energy and demanding all my time, I have no life anymore, yada-yada-ya.”
I can’t believe it. What did she expect? A walk in the park? First of all, she wanted to have a baby. So much so that when they cannot conceive the normal way they went to a lot of trouble to ensure that she gets what she wished for. Wish granted. What’s the problem then? The reality doesn’t fit in her perfect vision of how it supposed to be? Motherhood is not as easy as she thought it would be? Or the idea of her failing in her lifelong quest to do better than me terrifies her more than anything.
For the record, Oona is a sweet child in nature, calm, agreeable and happy. Only cries when it matters and not at all demanding. But like all normal babies who are in tune with their surroundings and susceptible to the moods of their mothers, Oona feels what my daughter feels and it makes her nervous, agitated and traumatized. She suffers under the constant quest for perfection, order, and control of my daughter who forces Oona to learn to roll over, lie on her belly, this and that because she finds it is about time Oona does these things. I thought: For God’s sake leave her alone. She will rollover crawl and walk in her own time. My son didn’t walk or talk till he was two and a half and turned out to be a multi-talented gifted individual. Each baby has a different pace when it comes to developing. There is no one size fits all (written or not written) rules for these kinds of things. If you are a perfect mother you ought to know that you can’t give your baby a textbook upbringing. Let them do their own thing. All in due time. And if there is indeed something wrong with your baby, no amount of forcing can change that so leave them alone.
What’s the problem then?
The problem is responsibility. My daughter cannot handle it. An aunt (and uncle) cushioned and pampered her for twenty-six years- something she never appreciates (what it is she appreciates anyway) someone devoting all their lives at her beck and call- something my daughter endlessly and shamelessly practice even now among her friends and family. I may not be the perfect mother but I don’t use and manipulate people to suit my needs. I’m afraid the trait comes from the side of my family. My mother was an expert. She thought she had everything coming. I called it Annalyn syndrome. Annalyn is my sister who unfortunately has the same character as my daughter. They love to put the blame on anyone but themselves and play the victim. Own your fucking mistakes for crying out loud and stop blaming people for your own failure. If everyone uses their imperfect background as a starting point (foundation) which to build their future, then everyone would be a criminal.
I for one have plenty of reasons from all sides but I don’t go on bothering people. I’m not saying I am better than my daughter or anyone else. I am probably worse in some areas. What I’m saying is the opposite. Don’t think you are perfect when you are clearly not. Don’t claim you’ve done it on your own and don’t need anyone when you can’t even take care of your own child and need an army just to survive a day. And appreciate the help you get and be grateful instead of acting high almighty I am better than the rest. And please decide what it is you really want to do with your life instead of jumping from one interest to the other confusing the people around you. And stop using your background and upbringing as excuses if you lost the motivation and don’t succeed.
My daughter spent 31 years of her life trying to decide what it is she really wants to do and achieve. So far she is in the middle of yet another endeavor with so many on the sides that it is unclear what is her ultimate goal and where she gonna go from there.
She said she wants to have a practice (a part of a conglomerate of experts housed in one building) giving advice to families on how to run their lives and bring up their children properly. She said she has the perfect background to do it. I told her practice with Oona first and at this moment she is the one who needs advice.
And that is another problem. My daughter cannot take advice or tips (especially from me but she will gladly pay a ridiculous amount of money to a stranger telling her what she wants to hear) on how to run her life without taking it as a grave offense and switch on to the full battle defensive mode.
I understand the difficulties of motherhood. I’ve been there, haven’t I? I know that each person has their own manner of dealing with any given situation, I understand that my daughter has some trouble coping with the responsibilities but she made the choice so snap out of it and shoulder on. There are people who are in a more desperate situation that she is right now. Millions of them. She has a supportive family, an understanding brother, willing in-laws, a patient husband, a network of helpful friends and a dream of a daughter whom I will gladly take on if given a chance. So stop being a ninny, step up to the challenge and show some respects where respect is due.
And most of all, stop the quest to be the perfect mother or perfect anything because perfect doesn’t exist. She had already a dose of reality check from every corner and had to swallow almost every word she once swears she was not going to do so learn from it instead of clinging on to her unrealistic ideals that exist only in her head.
I hope she man-up soon for the sake of Oona before it is too late.
I’m not holding my breath though.