The Ties That Bind

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Ah, family. Nothing can make you as happy, or as crazy.

I have an extremely large and diverse family, as well as a number of friends whom I would consider family for all practical purposes. During my latest bout of Executive Escalation of Doom inspired insomnia I was considering - at what point do you cut loose those ties that bind?

Some things are obvious, of course. If I suddenly found myself related to Chester the Molester, I'm afraid Chester would find himself related to my Shovel of Doom™, with extreme prejudice. If my family spawned the kind of trailer trash that burned crosses on lawns, the decision would also be an easy one.

What has me stuck is other, more subtle kinds of bad behavior, at least as I define it. Willful ignorance. Emotional manipulation. Childishness. And my current, personal favorite, sure to get me wrapped around the axle - disrespecting and hurting people I care for far more than the person indulging in the bad behavior.

At what point does bad behavior that doesn't necessarily hurt me, but does hurt people I care about, become grounds for cutting someone loose from my emotional life? While I realize that the injured parties are grown adults who are certainly capable of managing their own relationships, I'm far less capable of forgiving someone for hurting someone I love than for hurting me.

I'm really struggling with this, as once these kinds of decisions are made, it's exceedingly difficult to unmake them.

10 comments:

Stacey said...

Is it worth a conversation or just a cutoff?

Jeri said...

What's really twisted is that I am willing to put up with endless crap myself (see: eldest child, and rather lengthy painful relationship with ex) -- but am utterly unwilling to allow others to abuse someone else I love.

Sigh. The problem w/ conversation is the old rule of thumb: is it necessary, is it true, is it kind? And my corollary, will it make a difference? If the recipient of said conversation is unwilling to talk, then it doesn't stand much chance of making a difference. :(

Janiece said...

Jeri put her finger on the sore.

I'm really over this particular issue, and my own decision is pretty much made. I'm just waffling because choosing to emotionally divorce a member of my birth family is a tough call.

Anne C. said...

Damn it. I just had a long comment that was eaten by the internet. >:(

Steve Buchheit said...

Life is to short to share it with asses. Breaking relationships are best done like removing bandages. One quick yank, a sharp pain, and then fading redness from the parting.

Although I've only had to do it a few times in my life, and it wasn't fun any of those times. Moving around a lot as a kid and in our early adult life made it a little easier to leave behind people. However, in this day of instant contact through social media, it's a lot harder to just escape.

Mrs. Bitch said...

I'm of the same opinion as everyone here -- hurt who I love and you're toast, especially if the family member who's being a douche is relatively removed, like a cousin or aunt or something.

I consider it a loyalty thing. The reversal would be if Mr. Bitch maintained friendly contact with a member of his family who consistently badmouthed me -- I'd be crushed.

You've really made me think about this because I'm very close to my parents and sister and brother. I would really, really be torn if one of them decided they hated Mr. Bitch, or vice versa.

Janiece said...

Mrs. Bitch, to be clear, this has nothing to do with the Smart Man, but rather my birth family.

Although I agree with your hypothetical scenario regarding Mr. Bitch, as well.

Anne C. said...

The most relevant part of my eaten comment was:

In the situations when I have been cut out of someone's life without explanation (both times by guys, big surprise there) it's been extremely perplexing.

I'm not saying I'd rather be hurt by one of them saying "I'm tired of hanging out with a bitch," but it's something that I wonder about sometimes in the small hours.

As a rejecter and a rejectee, I'd say you need to weigh the hurt of unexplained severance against the hurt of the explanation. Only you can make that decision.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

Rip that band-aid off Janiece. You have dealt with a pretty heavy load with "That Thing", and previous "Things".
Sure it is disappointing, esp. when it is your family, but (and I stole this concept from you) emotional blackmail is just straight up bullshit.

Juan Federico said...

Fuck'em