Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It's So Hard To Say Goodbye...

Welcome to day 2 of things stuck in my head. I don't know if all of you have read my last few posts, but if you haven't, I encourage you to go back to them. All of these are interconnected, as you will hopefully find as you read through them.

Today's topic is one that's been on my heart for a while now. I'm seeing a lot of people having to deal with others that are so toxic that it's making them either physically sick or emotionally so. I want to tell you my story.

About nearly six years ago now, I publicly declared myself an orphan which confused a lot of people. Both of my parents are alive and well. From the outside, I had always had a great family life. That was from the outside though. From the inside, things weren't so pretty. My parents abandoned me (and my sister) with my grandparents when I was very young. My father had left me with his girlfriend when I was a toddler and I was horribly physically (and emotionally) abused. My parents weren't parents. They were sperm and egg donors. Once that part was done, they wanted nothing to do with the actual raising and effort it takes to raise a child.

Fast forward a lot of years and my grandfather had died and my grandmother was very sick and in the hospital. I was called by my mother to rush up there because she may not make it. I did and that's when the guilt laying started. She wanted me to somehow fix everything but there was no way that I could. My grandmother did get better and was sent to a home to rehab. During this time, it was discovered that her house was filled with bugs and that she was a semi-hoarder. My mother and my uncles turned to me and expected me to drop everything to clear the house. The problem? I had two small children at the time and it was summer break. My uncle would guilt me into helping by throwing out how she'd raised me and done everything for me and yet wouldn't allow my children into the house and would tell me how if the police stopped by, I would lose my children. I couldn't afford daycare and their father (who I was divorced from) worked all day. I couldn't win. My one uncle, the one I thought was reasonable, wouldn't stand up for me and bowed to whatever his younger brother wanted. I couldn't win. So, I did the house...and once she got home, I visited whenever I could.

Fast forward from July when she came home to March when she died...as soon as she died, it fell on me to start going through the hundreds of boxes that we had stacked in the garage when we cleared out the house. It was my job to be there every weekend...oh, and I had to create piles. Trash, donate, and if there was any chance it was worth anything, it had to be set aside because my "family" was selling off anything of value, even if my grandmother had wanted someone to have it. They tried to sell me an antique desk until they realized they'd have to do repairs to sell it. After that, I could just have it.

I lasted until May...at that point, I walked away. I walked away from that entire family and other than twice when I had to, I haven't spoken to any of them since. Was it an easy decision? No. I had every social standard whispering in my ear that family is forever, that you only get one set of parents, and everything else we've ever been taught about family. Was it the right decision? Yes. I discovered a couple of years later that I have PTSD that began when I was a toddler and was only added to by my "family".

It's not just family though. Sometimes you have to walk away from others that you care about and that you love because they've just become toxic in your life. I have one friend that I have to do this with. We were once very close but in the past year or so, he's turned into someone that I no longer recognize other than a brief glimpse now and then. When I comment on a post of his on Facebook, he almost always belittles my comment or turns it somehow so I look like a bad person. It's gotten to the point where I question myself and that isn't acceptable.

I'm going to say this and I want everyone to listen....A friend is not someone who makes you feel bad about yourself or who makes you constantly question who you are as a person. That isn't a friend. Get away from it. Run. Don't walk. These people are hazardous to your health. It's going to be hard. It's going to suck. There may be tears. I know I've shed a lot of tears as I've hit the unfriend button and cut people out of my life. It's not easy. Heck, even with my parents, even though I know just how toxic they are (and what I put here was just a small taste), even though I have no idea where they live, how they are, etc ....the fantasy of having proper grandparents for my children lures me in and every so often I reconsider. Then, I remember that my own children asked if they had to have them as friends on Facebook or talk to them. They will never be the grandparents that I wanted for my children and if I want to be a grandparent to my future grandchildren, I can't expose my own children to that.

It's incredibly hard to say goodbye to yesterday, to the happy memories, to any of that, but what you have to remember is that if that person isn't the person in those memories, you're not saying goodbye to your friend, but to someone who has, by choice, become toxic and a stranger. I'm not always great at following my own advice, but you have to take care of you first. Just like on an airplane with a child, you have to put your own oxygen mask on first in case of an emergency. Take with you the happy memories but leave the ugly in the past.

Just remember:
1. It's okay to feel sad that you're having to let go of either what was or what you were hoping it would be.
2. You're not melodramatic or an attention whore because you want people to invest the way you have.
3. People who are happy to have you as their friend, to do for them, aren't the people you want to have around if they're not acting like your friend or there for you when you need them.
4. Broken people are broken and it's not your job to fix them. (This one is a reminder for myself because I sometimes seem to collect these people...dang big heart!)
5. It's okay to walk away if a relationship is no longer healthy and a good thing for both people.

And most of all...remember that you're not alone. There are those who do love you and who are your friends and even your family, even if you weren't born into it.

PS I'm not going to lie. As I've typed this entire post, I've had one song in my head...and I bet you can guess which one.


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