You must like only the people that I like, and the people who like me. Furthermore, if you are talking to someone that doesn’t like me, you must not let me know that you are talking to them, because that might make me feel bad. Or worse, I might think you are being disloyal if you have a relationship with someone that I don’t have a relationship with.
You know, as I type those words, half of me wants to laugh and the other half wants to cry. The part that wants to laugh is the seasoned, wiser and older part of me that understands that the stance above… makes no sense. The half that wants to cry understands that it has been the M.O. that I have operated on for most of my life. Because it’s what I saw over, and over, and over again in my own family.
I have friends that do not like each other. I have friends that have broken up, so by default I have to choose one of them right? I mean, I can’t still be friends with both of them now that they aren’t a couple right? Wrong.
I have a few family members I do not speak to. Those family members don’t speak to some of the people I speak to every week in our family. I don’t allow negative talk about family members because, whether you get along with them or not, they are blood. And getting along is more of a relational thing that has a lot to do with personality and less to do with measuring worth.
You may be a good person to other people. I may be a good person to other people. We are not good people to each other, and hence we do not have a relationship. The gap is a combination of a severe personality conflict coupled with bad experiences. Blood or not, at some point you get tired of the fighting and want to walk away from anything that is negative, angry, tug-of-war like… and aggressive.
I’m a walk away person. If you want to waste time and energy inflicting pain on each other, do it without me as an audience. And I absolutely have a limit to the amount of emotional pain I will allow someone to inflict on me. Blood or not. I haz my limit. But having processed the few relationships in my life that were not positive (and the ones I healthily transitioned past for my own sanity) I find myself very chill about things these days. There is no jealousy, anger or judgement.
People are going to love who they are going to love.
This is true in both romantic relationships and in platonic ones. You can’t make someone love you romantically. You can’t make someone treat you right in a romantic relationship or be fair and kind in the way that they deal with your heart and mind. What you can do is add up the sum of your experiences (good and bad) and figure out whether this is someone who CAN be part of your every-week, or whether distance is the healthiest thing for everyone.
I CAN fight. I CAN lower my defenses and gossip like the best of them. I CHOOSE not to. I CHOOSE to accept people in my life (and now some people who are not in my life) as having the right to live THEIR LIFE the way they choose. And rather than feel guilty because I have non-existent relationships with my bio-parents (or my step-parents) or feeling bitter about that, I’ve kind of processed it now that I am married, have the twins and a loving family environment. The one I always wanted.
What that does is allow me to accept that people are going to come and go in life. The ones that fight to remain (despite distance, disagreements and discord) are the ones who have really bonded with you. You mean something to them, and they very likely mean a great deal to you. The “Keepers” are the ones that find a way to work things out because things like anger, pride, arrogance, jealousy and other emotions that mess up great relationships… can be navigated if the person is important to you.
One thing I am clear on; I matter very little to both my natural parents because I challenged their hateful behavior toward others and competitive, aggressive and jealous personalities were in stark contradiction to my own, which leans more toward generosity and supporting others. And that’s okay… I’m proud of who I am because I can look in the mirror every single day and know that I am a good and loving person.
And sometimes… even when someone IS important to you, there comes a time where you have to let go. Or have the layers of your soul flayed by their anger, or personal unresolved issues. And sometimes… you are the whipping post that they direct their fury on for no other reason than knowing YOU are strong enough to take it. I’ve been the whipping post more times in my life than I can count. You come at me with a whip these days, and I’ll knock your teeth out. I don’t allow it.
Everyone has unique relationships. The friends I get along with, do not get along with other friends or family members. My sister has managed to keep a good relationship with our Dad, and for all the pain that should cause me, I am happy and proud of her. Because if you can manage to forgive and navigate what we experienced and still preserve the relationship, that is pretty awesome. My experience has not (and was not) the same. I never talk about my parents to anyone, ever. Sometimes I’ll take a pot shot at Terri in a conversation with someone who knows her (not Kim) when I revisit 2013… but it fades pretty fast from memory these days. I’ve got more important things to spend my energy on.
For my friends who are no longer a couple, I love you both. I choose not to choose ever because I always saw you as separate people. And if you need me, I am here for you, even if its just for a beer and a badly cooked burger.
Relationships are what two people put into them. And they are the sum of effort and intention. While I absolutely love and envy the people who can truly get along with everyone, I feel that is possibly a little dishonest. I am honest about who I like, and quiet about who I dislike, and find excuses to spend the bulk of my time with positive, warm hearted, fun and loving people. That is the environment I want to live in. That is the one I continue to create for myself, my husband and our kids.
I am happy when I see people I know in kind relationships, giving and receiving kindness. And I am proud of people who have learned (as I have) that there is nothing wrong with editing your social circle (family included) to remove any relationships that do not bring joy. My life (and health) did not start to improve until I isolated the relationships (some friendships included) that were taxing, negative and abusive to my kindness and generosity.
I think life is an exercise in distillation. Boiling it down as you get older until you get to the real thick, wholesome sweetness of the things that matter most to you and bring you the most happiness. You can be wistful (but not hateful) about the relationships that haven’t worked out in your life. You have to be able to “relate” to have a relationship. And sometimes… you just don’t speak the same language (and never will).
Supportive, encouraging, strong, loving, affectionate inlaws are “the new parents”. God answers prayers in unique ways, and Kevin doesn’t mind sharing his parents. And Jenny (my sister-in-law) and I talked at length in the pool on Saturday… about how blessed we both are coming from disruptive families but finding ourselves loved by two great husbands, and incredible extended family.
Jen is going to become one of my best friends… she just doesn’t know it yet.