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How do we manage family relationships that continue into adult life but are not healthy once we have processed the hurts and traumas of our family of origin.
I find myself in relationship with people whom I wouldn't choose as friends and who are quite unhealthy for me to be engaging with but because they're family there seems to be residual obligation.
They haven't changed necessarily; it is me that has changed.
May 18, 2015
Thank-you for your question, it seems this is an issue that occurs in many families. It is suggested that families are the best arena for your personal growth and spiritual development. I think this is true, although a lot of the times it can be extremely painful.
I can feel that in principle you believe in the intrinsic value of keeping families united.
Therefore the simple solution of disengaging from them would be difficult for you to do, even though you find their behavior at times dysfunctional. Plus family are not only your siblings, it is also their children, their children’s children, their partners and so on. And I can’t even imagine you doing something as drastic as divorcing yourself from them completely, although you may at times be tempted when you find them unpleasant to be around.
So the best that I can do is to guide you in letting go of any expectations that you have of them and also help you to learn to speak up, not in defense but when deemed appropriate. Not speaking up is something that you may have hesitated to do in the past.
On an emotional level I feel you are extremely disappointed in the way things have turned out with your family and also quite hurt that somehow they haven’t faced the reality of their childhoods in the same way that you have done.
I am not saying that you are better than them for doing your therapy, because the truth is your siblings have changed, but in ways that have been appropriate for them, although the outcomes may not be what you want them to be.
I also know the child in you would truly love it if your family could find peace and happiness and be a united front, but alas I feel it is not going to happen in the near future.
I would suggest that you look at your inner child’s expectations and try to help her let them go. Although you may feel her expectations are not unrealistic, it feels too much of a burden for her to hold onto them any longer. Basically the longing is counter -productive and holds the child hostage to certain expectations that will never be fulfilled.
You can help your child be less engaged with your siblings by feeling into the difference between your adult and child selves. Once you feel the difference you then can consciously leave the child in an imaginary safe place every time you know you will be interacting with the family members that cause you to have the most reaction. This simple act can save you hours of misery and disappointment. You just have to remember to do it regularly so that eventually the child will opt for her safe place rather than energetically engaging in situations where she actually feels unsafe.
If each sibling did this then you would have a more functional relationship. However I completely understand that old traumas and behaviors have a way of showing up when families come together, and over time this becomes the only way you can be together.
Your child is very sweet, ever hopeful and optimistic, and although I don’t want her to become cynical, a little cynicism may help with the preservation of her integrity and sweetness.
The other thing that also comes to mind is that since your mother has passed away, the mother in you seems to have assumed the position of mother with your siblings; it is more on an energy level rather than a behavioral thing. You are possibly thinking that you have never tried to mother them as such, but trust me it is well worth the investigation in how she is influencing some of the things you tolerate from your siblings, that under normal circumstances you wouldn’t hold back from sharing what you think and how you feel. The mother energy may also have certain expectations of behavior and with any good mother she will be patiently waiting for her children to eventually learn how to behave well. Ultimately this will perpetuate further sadness and disappointment.
I would like you to find the mother and draw a line of demarcation between you and your siblings and remind her that she is only to be a mother to your own children. I also appreciate this could be an unresolved past life issue, but I don’t feel you have to regress into that life unless you feel you want to.
What I would also suggest is that you take the time to write down what you believe your contract is with your siblings from the perspective of the present and past life Mother self. Once you have established that, then you need to believe that those contracts are now complete. If you feel there is something unresolved, then please practice the art of self-forgiveness for how you perceive you have failed them, or how they have failed you.
The reality is your question is helping you identify that your karma with them is now finished, its just your mind and emotions that need time and support to catch-up with that concept. Which may still take a number of years to filter through. You can assist that process by being consciously active in naming the behaviors and keeping your child in a safe place, and affirming to your mother self that she has done the best she could in somewhat difficult circumstances.
The Angels are also guiding me to remind you that in this lifetime one of the big things you have come here to explore, is relationships. You may feel that everyone is doing the same thing, and fundamentally that is true. However in your particular case your ‘karma’ so to speak is very much about the resolution of past life issues that have carried through into this life with those souls that make-up your family. And although you probably feel you have struggled with this for a long time, there is a beautiful golden light of realization just about to happen, in which you will find certain levels of peace and harmony within and with your family. A letting-go, a feeling of ease and the acceptance that the changes you have made will open your heart to compassion and a deep understanding of why it has had to be exactly how it has been.
Phew that was a long answer- but it was a complex question and you may require further help with resolving these issues.
However it seems you are conscientious with your personal development so that will certainly assist you in your healing process.