Back in the 1950’s, there was a popular TV show called “This Is Your Life”. The host would surprise guests by taking them down memory lane. Appearances were often made by past colleagues and friends or family they’d lost touch with. And this was all done in front of a live audience so there was no editing of reactions to long lost Uncle Jimmy.
Just so we’re clear, I’m NOT old enough to have seen the original show but I’m old enough to have heard of it and looked it up on Wikipedia.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve basically been living one long episode of This Is Your Life. People whom I haven’t spoken to in years have been popping up via snail mail, text, FB and LinkedIn. Even if I wanted to hide, uhhhh which I do, I can’t. Thanks a lot social media.
I don’t know what kind of moon we’re having or what planets are in each other’s houses but whatever is happening, it’s been a lot for this introvert and as a result, I’ve been holed up. Unless I’m responsible for feeding, sheltering, teaching, or consulting you, you’ve pretty much gotten radio silence from me.
I have literally been hiding from life.
Why are all these people coming out of the woodwork? Some are just random requests coming at the same time. Fine. Done. Now, go back from whence you came.
But others aren’t so simple. A family member who has done nothing but speak ill of me for at least a decade reached out asking if I would have dinner with them next time I’m home. I was ready to close the door on this, no questions asked, and then on my other side of the family, my grandmother died.
My mother’s mother.
My mother’s family has always struggled with things like talking to each other and being in the same room State as each other. I grew up observing their jabs of anger masked by humor and their full on WWIII clashes. It was unpleasant to say the least and left me with a less than confident feeling about unbreakable family bonds.
Feeling betrayed by a sibling is a deeper wound than if they had simply been a friend. It’s a wound that often can’t be repaired. I know. I have one of those wounds and going to dinner isn’t enough to fix it.
I had considered closing the door on this dinner invite without any exploration but my grandmother’s passing gave me pause. I decided to at least ask “why” and “why now”. In fact, as I type this, I’m toggling back and forth between writing this blog and reading their texts.
I know as a woman, I’m expected and have been socialized to be the peacemaker. To forgive and forget. You know, for my own peace of mind. As a woman, I’m expected to accept the olive branch even if it’s flimsy and brittle and half-hearted. I’m expected to do this because it’s the polite thing to do and women are the keepers of manners and all things polite.
But you know what, I call bullshit on that.
Maybe my peace of mind comes from knowing I said hell no to forgetting all the terrible things they said and did behind my back. Maybe my peace of mind comes from knowing that I’ll never have to wonder whether that person is being genuine or fake. Maybe my peace of mind comes from knowing I walked away and never looked back.
Maybe my peace of mind comes from knowing that as a woman, I get to f#$%^&g choose how I earn my peace of mind. I get to choose to listen to my intuition and not silence her with social expectations and family pressure to be the bigger person.
Family is hard. You don’t get to choose whom you’re related to. As adults, some siblings choose to stick together like avocado and toast (nod to my Milllenial readers), others maintain polite relationships filled with obligatory holiday dinners and hugs (insert eye roll because, yes, my generation still does this) and some, once they no longer share a bathroom, decide to part ways.
I have three siblings. I’ve done all of the above.
Some of my grandmother’s six children will attend her service and some won’t. I understand both decisions and hope they are at peace with whatever choice they’ve made because here’s the truth, whatever any of us chooses, it’s right. I promise you, it’s right.
At the end of the day, true peace of mind comes from knowing, this is your life.
P.S. Dear Universe, I’ve had my fill of blasts from the past for 2019. Move on.