Obligations

We are all born with family, people who we are biologically related to or married into. In most cases we have good relationships with our family members. All families have their issues but mostly we all get along and life is pretty good.

But then there are those families who seem to want to destroy each other, who are at each other’s throats all the time. Families who ostracize one or a number of members because they don’t fit into a nice neat little box, or live up to impossible expectations. Some families have hidden secrets of abuse, neglect, cruelty, lies, deceit. And I suppose every family has its secret they don’t want the world to know. Mothers or fathers who just don’t measure up as parents. Siblings who cross the line. Alcohol and substance abuse, mental illness, etc.

In family situations like the latter, children often grow up feeling obligated to other members of the family out of a sense of duty. They have always been the peace maker or the care giver. They have always met the needs of others whilst their own needs are often neglected and ignored.

As adults we continue to try to meet these obligations in spite of bad treatment at the hands of these family members who we feel we must stick by because they are “family”.

We often are ignored and not invited to family gatherings and when we are, we feel always like the outsider. We feel like the grotesque circus act that everyone gawks at. There are whispers and stares and when you introduce yourself to friends etc; they had no clue of your existence. You are always on the defensive and feel awkward and out-of-place. You are uncomfortable. You are called a liar and an attention seeker. You are shunned and shamed for something you haven’t done or something you are not.

But still you feel a sense of obligation as though you have to care about these people because they are your “family”.

At what point do we decide that we have more than fulfilled our obligations? At what point do we decide for ourselves that we deserve to be treated better by the very people who should love and respect you, accept you for who you are. We are not bad people, maybe we made mistakes, but who doesn’t. Maybe it is the actions of the very people we feel obligated to, that should be brought into question, and not ours?

In these situations you can never win, because it is often more about the other person than about you. You haven’t failed anybody. It’s just some people can’t be appeased. Your very existence is a reminder of their mistakes and how they have failed as human beings and as a family member. As long as they hold on to their judgement of you and their idea of the kind of person you are they will never accept you. Sometimes walking away and leaving them be, is the only answer. As long as you know you have done everything you could to be the hero in this situation, to make up for the past, you can only do so much. Others have to meet you at least halfway.

Communication, respect, acceptance, forgiveness is a two-way street. And if other members of the extended family choose blindly to accept what they have been told without question or wanting to know both sides then they are just as guilty as the perpetrators of the falsehood.

HOW CAN YOU REPAIR A BRIDGE THAT WAS BURNED ALONG TIME AGO BY SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T WANT IT REPAIRED. WHY TRY TO BE A PART OF SOMEONE’S LIFE WHEN THEY HAVE MADE IT PERFECTLY CLEAR YOU ARE NOT WELCOME.

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