There have been a lot of posts on Facebook recently about family and how if they are your blood, you have to support them. There’s memes saying that the reason the world is such a bad place, is because people “just throw away” their relatives and friends. Looking at it from a psychological viewpoint, I see more of how the person who posted it is feeling, they are saying; “I’m family, you can’t give up on me. I need love.” And while this is fine, and a round about way of getting it…it doesn’t work and it isn’t healthy.
I can already hear people arguing with me. But what I’m saying isn’t to give up on everyone because it’s too hard. What I’m saying is; there is a breaking point when enough damage has been done to where not being a part of someone’s life can benefit you MORE than being in their life. Let’s put this into simpler ways of thinking.
If someone hands you a dozen cupcakes, do you eat all of them? No, you eat until you are full and then save the rest or toss the rest (sometimes that’s 1 cupcake, sometimes it’s 3 :p). Emotional baggage is the same way. If someone treats you like you aren’t number 1 or even number 10 or 30, and you continually treat them as if they are number 2 or higher, eventually, you get tired of it. You are continually eating more and more cupcakes, even though it is clearly making you ill. You eat it all, simply because it is there and you feel as though you have to. Eventually, the pain of constant ignorance, selfishness, laziness, lack of trying to understand, lack of communication, lack of caring, lack of whatever, becomes too great of a burden. (you throw up too many times from too many cupcakes). This can take years. Everyone has their point where they look at the situation (cupcake) and say “why am I doing this? Why do I put forth all of my love and effort into someone who doesn’t care? Someone who treats me as if I am merely a decoration, not an actual physical being?” If you find yourself asking this question, and you decide to drop that person down a a few pegs or knock them off your board completely; I think you are doing the right thing. Why should you put yourself in pain emotionally when clearly they aren’t putting forth the same effort to you?
So what do you do? You can drop them out of your life completely, which can be difficult. Or you can drop them down to the same peg they have you on. If someone sees you as number 50 and you’ve had them on number 1 or 2, try dropping them down a few notches and see if your emotional state feels a bit better. This is not a case of treat someone the way they are treating you. This is a case of; if you hold someone in great regards and importance, and they don’t hold you in the same way; try another approach. Clearly, you are putting in more effort into it than they are, and there is a reason for it. If it isn’t enough and you are still exuding too much effort and resources, drop them down a bit more. There are reasons people treat people the way that they do. If you are treating someone better than they are treating you, maybe it’s because they just don’t see you the same way you see them. Try a different perspective. There are consequences to these actions, and they come in a few forms.
- The person may realize that you have dropped them down to the same level they hold you at, and will frantically try and “win” you back. This action is common but be careful. Has the person done this before? What were their previous actions like? Did they slip back into thinking you were too much of a burden? Be careful putting them higher on your pegs again until you know that you aren’t going to end up in the same spot.
- The person may realize what you are doing, and not care or even be grateful not to be up so high in your list of priorities. Sometimes people don’t know how to tell you that you have latched on in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Giving them and you space can help you both to feel better. Sometimes people just aren’t ready for the status you have given them, lowering the peg can give them time to change, and you time to reexamine their position in your life.
- The person sees what you are doing, and tries to become higher again, but you KNOW that game and stick to your guns. This one can end in a few ways as well. The person may give up and decide that being number 50 for them is not good enough, and start to back away from you completely. In this instance, you should be happy you made the first move and you can begin to heal. The second way, is they stick to trying to change and make you a bigger part of their life. This DOES happen, but it is rare. If it does happen, it can mean that all that person needed was a wake up call to see just how much pain you were in, and they decide you deserve better than what they had been giving you.
There are probably others, but I’m writing this quickly while my Little Man is preoccupied lol.
Remember, communication goes two ways. If you back off on communication (or withdraw it completely) they have the ability to try and regain contact or to let it all go.
Things change, people change, perspectives and circumstances change. It is ok if you change too. I think people keep the same friends and put up with bad relatives because of a feeling of “loyalty” or a fear of trying to find something better. But loyalty is a 2 way road, if the person isn’t treating you “loyally” but you are treating them that way, then it seems like a waste of your potential, your energy, your balance and well being.
Disclaimer; All of this is in reference to older people, NOT CHILDREN! If you have a child, and they don’t treat you the way you wish that they would, they ARE YOUR KIDS AND YOU NEED TO FIX IT! Children are not capable of adult thought, problem solving, rational or any other manner of being. They are simply children. I am talking about dealing with ADULTS!
Think about this in another way; if you had just painted the Mona Lisa (one of the most famous paintings in the world) and your dad said “I painted that masterpiece.” You’d be P*ssed, right? You’d think; “where were you when I had to beg for the money to take art classes? Where were you when I had 2 jobs to buy the paints? Where were you when I sat for hours doodling female faces? Where were you during the weeks I sat trying to finish it?” You wouldn’t put up with it, right? You’d probably call up every news station and show them proof that you had done it. So why is your emotional state any less important than a physical accumulation of achievement? If you have a family member who was none existent throughout your child hood, let you down in your teenage years, was less than helpful in your beginning grown up years, but still proclaims that you are “their” fabulous daughter, niece, cousin..fill in the blank.. while doing nothing to show that effort; when does it become enough to where you just STOP? When do you say; “ok, I’ve been your number 45 for ____years, while you have been my number_____. I need to leave that spot open for someone who views me in as high regard as I view them AND who has consistently shown me the same love and respect.”
Life is short and so are your personal resources (emotionally and physically). Give what you can, but make sure you take care of yourself. Sending love to anyone who needs it.