On a Personal Note…

Good Friends Look Like This

This is going to be a weird post, I’m just saying. You might feel like you’re reading my journal. However, I’ve had a really hard couple months dealing with family issues and it has made me ask some really tough questions of myself. I’ve had to do a little evaluating of the relationships in my life, and after doing some really tough thinking, I thought it would be a good idea to post about it because it really applies to what I talk about on here.

We say as minimalist’s we strive to live life based on what’s important. Most of us have decided that means faith, relationships we spend time in, and investing in our community to make it better. What if the relationships we spend our time on are toxic? What if they leave us worse off than had we not pursued them? Even though we want to make things work (with family members, etc…), do our relationships with certain people become more of a burden? And what I’ve really dealt with recently… Are these people I want to spend a lot of time with when I have children to think about? Do I want this person having negative influence on my own daughter? These are the tough questions we have to ask, and the questions I fear I’ve found the answers to in my life.

Last week, I lost relationships with my Mom, stepfather, two older brothers, and sister. The only family members that love/have contact with me are my father and future step-mom and my younger brother who has to see me when I’m in town because my Dad has partial custody of him. That’s a really tough statement to chew on. I have loved my family so deeply over the last ten years since my parent’s divorce and have tried so hard in my adult years to be fair to everyone. I’ve tried to hear all sides of everything and be there for everyone. Until recently, I really felt like I was making progress. I truly believed there was nothing my family could do that would make me want to discontinue a relationship with any one of them. I was on speaking terms with everyone over the last couple years from time to time and my Mom and I were even planning a day of sewing when I go home in April. Things were really looking up and I felt like my hard work was starting to pay off. And then, we got some news that we just couldn’t get through. I won’t go into details because it really doesn’t matter. But everyone had to choose a side, and when I chose the “wrong” one, I was cut off from most family members. I chose to stand up next to my Dad, just because I didn’t want to see him go through anything else alone, and it was made clear that I would no longer be able to be in relationship with my mom, sister, and brothers. We went to court and it was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do. All I wanted was to go back in time 15 years to when we were just kids and didn’t know about the legal process. I wanted to be able to hug my Mom and tell jokes with my brothers, but not at the expense of my Dad. I just wanted us all to be able to be in the same room without glares and nasty comments. It was a very intense time, but going through it really showed me what my future needs to look like.

Throughout the three days we were in court, I realized more and more each day how bitter and angry my family was. Each time I was called a “Princess”, I realized how easy it was for my family to make me feel alone. Each time it was said that my Dad bribed me to be in a relationship with him through offering money and gifts, I knew how far my family had come to knowing reality. And each time I heard bitter persecution of my Dad and the lies they told of our childhood, the more I knew I needed to let my family go.

As a Christian, I know about love and forgiveness. I’ve always thought I had to forgive everyone who hurt me AND continue a relationship with them for the rest of my life. Through the events of the last week and some serious evaluating, I know that’s not true. I can love and forgive all of the members of my family who have treated me badly and I can say from the bottom of my heart, I do. And I wish them the best for their lives. But I can also say that I will not be spending my time with them any longer. I’ve seen the depths of where they will go to get what they want and I want nothing to do with it. I’ve always said I don’t want to cheat my husband and future children out of our lives together by dealing with my siblings and mother’s issues. I believe my husband and future children deserve that. Just like that, the decision was made. On a regional jet, 30,000 feet in the air, somewhere between Boise and Denver. I need to move on from the relationships that hold me back.

I realize my family issues are very extreme and you probably don’t need to evaluate as much as I have, but I would challenge you to think about who you spend your time with. Seriously. Do you come home from hanging out with certain friends and find that you are more on edge than normal? Or do certain friends put pressure on you to say or do things you don’t normally say or do? Do you change who you are based on who you are with?

Minimalism is all about focusing on what’s important. Relationships are not just important, but essential. Make sure you are using this short time you have in life on the ones that truly matter. The friends that lift you up and speak the truth to you. The family that knows you better than anyone and looks out for you. The spouse that always leads you back to love and forgiveness.

**I want to thank you for hearing my heart. This was a hard post to put into words, but I know there is healing in the written word. And I also know I’m not the only one who deals with this. Thanks!

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6 Responses to On a Personal Note…

  1. Tom Allen says:

    You are a courageous and strong woman of deep faith, justice and truth, Kate. Some favorite quotes/scriptures I know of are: “Right is right, even if no one is right. Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is wrong.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.”- Proverbs 12:26, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” -St. Thomas Aquinas, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” -Bill Cosby, “Telling the truth and making someone cry is better than telling a lie and making someone smile.”- Paulo Coelho, “A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”- Luke 6:45, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12: 9-10), “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.” ~ Mother Teresa, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”-
    Mark 8:36, “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”~Pope John Paul II, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” Mark 8:34, and “In the end, for all eternity you and I will be in heaven or hell…period!” -Fr John Corapi….I am sure that one cannot be the best version of themself if they are disrupted and disturbed by the toxic evil of others. Some evil is unavoidable and necessary to be exposed to as a way of knowing one’s own strength of faith and in bearing true witness to the Father. But, to choose more than is unavoidable is simple foolishness, and we are called to wisdom! God bless you, the peace of the Lord always with you and yours..and my love is with you always, Kate! Love, Daddy…

  2. Corena says:

    Kate, Forgiveness does not mean that you have to continue in a relationship that is not good. Forgiveness is for you to have peace within yourself, not for the person that you forgive. You do not even need to tell the person that they have forgiven they but you need to so that you can be a happy joyful person. Not the bitter “ugly” person, and we all know people like that. We also know people that have forgiven things that we do not know about because they have joy and do not dwell on the hard, horrible things that have happened in their lives.

    Kate,I love you, continue being that strong beautiful person that I know.

    Corena

  3. Felicia says:

    Kate, as a foster kid who has had her fair share with the revolving door of family members as an adult, believe me when I say that I feel everything you are saying. Knowing you on a personal level as I do thus far, I see what a compassionate person you are for *all people* and I can see why that compassion sees you struggling to decide which way the path of right or wrong is leading both for you and those on the path with you.

    Your father, from what I know, has not made you choose sides or punished you for participating the your relationship with your sister, as her sister–not with your mother, as her daughter. I do find it sad that your family is punishing you and ousting you for your relationship with your father, as his daughter. There is a depth to your particular situation that few ever see and there is rarely an occurrence in this scenario that doesn’t lead to lifelong hurt feelings or ended familial relations.

    From the beginning you have made it clear you do not choose sides, only speak the truth and that has always been the honorable choice–the only choice. You did not bury your head in the sand, you did not give in even when faced with the possibility of losing those you love as a result. My only hope is that you know in your head and heart and soul you told the absolute truth. And if you did, there is redemption in that absolution and that makes you a woman of conviction. And having conviction is really all that matters in this life.

    Up there, you wrote something that stuck out to me….you wrote, “I chose to stand up next to my Dad, just because I didn’t want to see him go through anything else alone.”

    As someone who thinks the world of you and does care about you, and who had a brother who chose my father against me because he “felt sorry” for dad and “didn’t want him to be alone”…..that’s a suspect thing to say and it raises my hackles a bit.

    I have never seen it as you choosing sides. Only you being called forward to share your truth. Only I and my father know what happened, know the truth, even if my brother refuses to acknowledge the things that he himself even witnessed.

    It took 15 years for us to come to terms with the sides that we were on and now my brother and I have a loving relationship. I no longer need him to “believe” me or be on my “side, nor he I.

    This end, for you, is not necessarily THE END for you and your mom and sis and brothers. Just be cautious of your thoughts, your motivations, and always be open to the the past being something that was different for others as it was for you.

    I hope I speak for all hearts involved.

    I love you kid!

    I think you should think about how natural it came to you to say that

  4. Felicia says:

    sorry for that last line, forgot to edit it out in the end!

  5. Gloria says:

    Hey Kate, hang in there. This kind of stuff is REALLY tuff to deal with no matter what age or what arena it plays out. Unfortunately it won’t end with this particular decision- for these are things we deal with everyday of our lives. Sometimes the feelings will sneak up on you when you least expect and sometimes you will be able to squelch their dirty tricks before they take over your day. None the less, stay true to yourself for in doing so you will remain accountable to yourself and God. Most of all, I pray that you find peace within even during the most difficult time. With God’s love and embrace– keep on.

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