Updated: Jan 25, 2022
Bonjour, mon ami! Have you been avoiding your family to avoid your real feelings? I think on some level we all do. We think if I can create some distance, that somehow things will be better. All it does is isolate. My family has a pattern of this. We're all so sensitive, we shut down when the emotions are too much to process at the moment.
What is shutting down? Being mute, a frozen look or glare, eyes averted, fidgetiness, and quick answers to quickly end the conversation. This is what shutting down is. It’s the same as having a burned-out employee. The engagement is not there, the energy is not there, the person has the lights on but nobody is home.
What do you do when you're trying to communicate with someone who is unwilling to hear you or communicate back? Keep trying. Do not berate the person, but check in with them every six months (a twice a year minimum) to see if they've healed enough to begin to talk. Or you can always invite them to the important events like birthdays and major holidays, with the gracious understanding that they can say no. At least the person knows, the door is always open when they are ready.
Sometimes it helps to have a mediator or therapist to guide a much-needed emotionally-charged conversation. The point is keep trying new methods, techniques, timing, and mediums of communication. Don't let go of the family you want in your life. Sometimes people push you away to see if you'll come back. Sometimes the best way to be in someone’s life is occasionally because perhaps there’s too much hurt between you to be together all the time. Space is healthy, but we should stay connected as best we can. We have the tools to be there without physically being there. So, why not use them to say hello and check in once in a while?
If the relationship is completely toxic, as in it creates more harm and trauma when you see family, tell your family members that you cannot see them until you've properly healed, the process is indefinite, and you will reach out to them when you're psychologically ready. You do not have to play with your emotions if you are honest about your emotions. Also, this method leaves the door open and says I’m healing, instead of leave me alone forever. Don’t put people down forever simply because they are healing. Everyone needs time to heal.
My main point, communication is everything. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Only say the things you think will help mend the relationship. You do not need to rehash old stuff because it's not healthy. However, if you can vow to be honest about your feelings moving forward and others agree to do the same, then start fresh. Give each other the same grace of forgiveness and move forward.
We all want to run away from drama and our feelings. But we can't. We must address our internal demons head on, admit to the part we played in the relationship to cause pain, and forgive ourselves and others, recognize that we are all human and have limits. We try to be better with each new day.
For the longest time I tried to deny who I was, where I came from, and my back story, thinking I could start a new life to heal myself. However, I had to investigate myself and figure out what my triggers were and how they developed in the first place to truly understand the best way to heal and communicate with others effectively.
Don't run from your feelings. Do the work. Really do the work. Admit what you've done wrong, so you can really forgive yourself and grow. Would you forgive someone else who didn't rightfully acknowledge they did something wrong? Hold yourself to the same standard. If you're honest with yourself, you can be honest sharing your true feelings with others.
Merry Marie, Christmas Sprite