Some people have weeds growing in their hearts, noxious weeds like hate, anger, resentment, disrespect, greed, and self-righteousness. They have let these invaders flourish too long, crowding out love, humility, respect, and kindness.
Yesterday was one more day that showed us the best and worst of people. The best and worst of family, even. Early yesterday a close family member called Jim and me, excitedly telling us of the Supreme Court ruling on legality of same-sex marriage. In a happy glow we enjoyed Facebook posts of our friends celebrating for much of the day. For me, it was expected that my friends would approve of the ruling or be silent. I have a very short friends list on purpose.
Not everyone was so fortunate to bask in that happiness on Facebook. Another family member was deeply hurt seeing some comments from a nephew. The nephew is one of those whose heart is weedy, full of poison. That nephew’s weeds, in fact, have acted as the catalyst for several major rifts in the family over the last few years. My relationship with him broke last fall after I privately told him he was treating someone badly, that I thought he was a better person than that. Turns out he isn’t.
There is no means to breed hate and disrespect out of people. It is resistant even to culturing. That nephew has siblings who are loving and accepting, who don’t see it as their role in the world to point out everyone else’s “sins.”
Siblings. Why are some loving while others grow up with hate? Why do some choose to be respectful of the person, even if they disagree with the opinion, while others feel that it’s their right and duty to disagree in the most tactless or deliberately hurtful ways?
Those who are habitually disrespectful seem to take one of two defenses. Either you misinterpreted what they said, or they have the right to say it and if you’re hurt, it’s your fault. Either way, they are blameless in their own eyes. Defending yourself doesn’t teach them, as I found out with the woman who used to be my sister. After I defended myself against years of her disrespect, she shut me out of her life. While that has been a blessing, the amazing thing is that she sent Jim an email urging him to take me to a psychiatrist for my “paranoia disorder.” I guess standing up for myself was seen as paranoia by her. Weeds…
You can’t teach people things they don’t want to know. It doesn’t matter how reasoned your arguments are, or how correct your facts, or how lovingly you present yourself. People who are filled with negativity cling to that, and they are unmoved. The only ones who can pull the weeds and cultivate more love are the same ones whose hearts are weedy.
I’m tired of hate. I am tired of family discord. I am tired of weeds growing where love should grow. I’m tired of the regular upsets created by the toxins of particular family members. To the extent I can, I avoid them, but that doesn’t prevent a spillover effect.
For me, I choose to tend my garden. Where I can, I will cultivate an attitude of love. I choose love.
Thank you (again!) for expressing so well what is in my heart!
I, too, choose love!!!
And, I am happy to see that my children and their families also choose love!!
The family member that caused me so much pain… my uncle (how ever could he and my father have been brothers, and been so different??!!)… passed away last year. As I grew up, he was always “Alpha”, and abrasive… but I loved him as he was “family”. But the memory of his abuse and violent, threatening self-righteous hatred still stings me… (My “sin” was not voting as he did, thinking as he did!!!)
His legacy was “not love”, and his hatred bore only weeds.
I never stopped praying for him…
Thank you, Melanie…
I am sorry you endured that from him for so long. When I am stronger, I’ll resume my good wishes for those who’ve torn these freshest holes in the fabric of our family. Right now I’m not able to be quite that loving. Even with my ex-sister, though most of the time I am peaceful about how things are, as you can tell, it gets stirred up, too.
Thanks very much for your note of support. Hugs and good wishes to you.
Beautifully stated. Thank you for helping put the whiplash of yesterday into a better light. It has been exciting and exhausting all in less than 12 hours. I like the choices you have made.
Love is easy — I learned it from you. ❤
I like your statement “you can’t teach people things they don’t want to know.” It makes sense & I hadn’t really thought of obstinacy in that way.
They have to learn it for themselves, don’t they? We had plenty of clients who were … difficult that way.
Let’s get together soon. Been too long.
Great post, Melanie. It makes me sad that you’ve dealt with such discord in your family but you’ve made the necessary choices to protect yourself from letting the weeds spread.
Thanks, Kerry. It was a long time coming with my sister. And for a long time after she quit communicating with me, I was open to resuming that. Once I found out about her email to Jim, though, that ended it for me. She is no longer my sister, in my opinion. And I’m okay with that.
I think your approach is the only one that’s healthy! So many people say, “oh, but it’s family”–I don’t buy it. If a family member is a jerk and makes you feel bad, out of your life they should go!
They may get more leeway and more chances than non-family, but ultimately, they have to treat others with respect or not be welcome. Thanks for your supportive comments.
Brave post. Let’s just say that you’ve described an all too common and very sad aspect of the human experience. Closed-mindedness is described in the theory of cognitive dissonance tho your description is far more practical and elegant. As for the take-away, I don’t “do” negativity either. Fool’s errand aside, I just don’t have the time now that retirement has helped me realize how precious my remaining time actually is.
Thanks, Jim. It doesn’t even hinge on closed-mindedness. The real issue is if you are shitty to other people, and it isn’t an aberration but a way of life, I don’t want you in my life or in that of those I care about.
I spent the week building trails with a negative personality. Wasn’t fun. Probably should have bagged it and left. But for my commitment to the project I would have. When it’s family, it’s much more difficult. Here’s a big smile coming at ‘cha😎
And this — all too common — YES. I used to believe it was unusual to have bad intrafamily relationships. But I understand that MANY people are estranged from those to whom they’re closely related. Sad, indeed.