Continuing the evaluation of my close relationships…
My dad – This relationship is another complicated one for me to evaluate. For almost my entire life, he had nothing to do with me. We reconnected when I was 16 but the relationship was awkward, and I got the impression that I was the one doing everything to keep the relationship going. When he didn’t show up at the birth of my son or my wedding reception because he was worried that he and his wife would run into my mom, I distanced myself from him again. Over the past year, we have reconnected again. He constantly reaches out to talk to me and really puts in the effort to communicate via text. However, it is clear that I have some major trauma keeping me from being able to connect with him. For example, every time he calls me “baby” or “sweetie” as a loving nickname for his youngest daughter, I cringe. I feel that he is trying to embody a level of familiarity that I don’t have with him yet. I make sure that I keep our conversations very surface level, “How’s the weather where you are?” and “What did you do today?” I don’t know if at this point in my life if it is possible for him to know me the way that he always should have and vice versa. I know I should give it a chance. Maybe for the sake of fairness I could work on forgiveness in this relationship. He did apologize to me in the beginning but not for specific things. He apologized for “not being the best dad in the past.” I suppose I could also work on being more engaging with him. It is difficult to gage if your own actions in a relationship with someone who has wronged you are “fair.” Maybe I should try to focus on what he is trying to do with the relationship now instead of focusing on what the relationship has always been. I don’t want him to pay for his mistakes forever, I’m not that type of person, but I definitely still have a lot of healing that I need to do before I can really get close to him.
Wayne – My brother Wayne is like my daughter, he is obsessed with his few select interests and otherwise isn’t really too interested in engaging. He does not really reach out to me to chat or for emotional support. I don’t have any issues with our relationship aside from the fact that I would like us to be a little it closer. I have been trying to work on this by engaging with him about games that he and my son both enjoy. Also feel that I should make it a point to check in on him more often in a way that does not make him feel overwhelmed.
My siblings/nieces/and nephews on my dad’s side – because of the title of these relations, I can’t help but to feel that I should be close to them…but I’m not. I don’t even know the names of all of my nieces and nephews. Many of them I have never even met. I was close with on of my sisters and brothers for a bit when I was 16, but after Ross and I went our own way those relationships fizzled out. I lump all of these people together because when I think about the, it really does feel like a big family that I am SUPPOSED to feel connected to but don’t. To make matters worse, the brother that I was close to when I was younger brought a lot of trauma into my life and I kinda feel like I’m better off without them. Is that okay for me to feel? Also, the first time I tried to make a connection with my father, I had to do so under the judgement of his other 4 children and his wife. This always made me feel like the odd person out. I am finding that I am getting along with my father much more now that I don’t have to deal with the rest of them. I guess my 2 sisters are cool….but as for the rest of them, I would rather just not get into it right now. Maybe the best way to balance these relationships is to not make them any different than what they are now so I can focus on the people who actually put effort into contacting me.
Ross’s siblings/niece/nephews, my 3 youngest cousins, my uncle, my aunts – I think that the same rule applies here. These people never check on me or reach out to see how I’m doing. For me to put more energy into these relationship would be to make them unbalanced. I think that it is important to be close to family, and maybe we still can be one day, but these relationships aren’t ones that I need to process through right now.
As mentioned yesterday, todays post is going to be a bit more robust than usual because I am moving onto a new shadow aspect tomorrow, and I wanted to get out all of my thoughts about this one before moving on.
The first point of contemplation that I have written in my journal, is to consider what a balanced relationship looks like to me. I feel that a balanced relationship should have a fair exchange in communication. Both people should reach out to talk. It shouldn’t be the same person having to reach out every time. When engaging in conversation, both people should be able to take turns sharing. No one should try to talk over the other person or dominate the conversation. If you find that you are always having to talk about the other person and their issues, this is a red flag that the relationship is imbalanced. Balanced relationships should have a fair balance of emotional support. It is important to have someone to be there for you when you need them, but that shouldn’t be all the relationship is about, You can lean on someone for emotional support while also being careful not to overload them. If you chose to lean on someone for emotional support, it is only fair that you allow them to do the same with you. I feel that one of the most important aspects of a health balanced relationship is to respect the other person’s boundaries and energy. Before dumping all of your emotional shit on them, stop for a second and ask them if they are open to it at them moment. You never know what another person is going through, so it is best to ask first before unloading on someone. Likewise, I feel that it is important to ask the other person what kind of support they are needing/seeking. Don’t just start firing off with advice, give them space to tell you what they need. Before making demands or asking for favors, ask the other person if they can mentally and emotionally handle it. Self-awareness and accountability is a must have component of balanced relationships. You have to be able to know your own limits and to recognize your own faults so you can take accountability for them and change problem behaviors. All parties in a relationship should be doing this. Never invalidate the other parties thoughts or feelings, even if you don’t agree with them. The lenses that they see the world through is different than yours. Respect differences and be open to conflict resolution. Don’t go into conflict resolution ready to fight. If you or the person is really heated, give the issue a little space until you can both calmly talk through it. However, conflict is inevitable, and one should not run when it comes up. Respect each other’s physical boundaries and needs. Encourage open and honest communication. Value yourself do that you can value others. Make sure that things are monetarily balanced. If someone in the relationship can’t “pull their weight” with finances, transportation, etc… make sure that they are at least showing gratitude and respecting boundaries, maintaining the balance in all other areas of the relationship, and not expecting the favors that are freely given to them.
The last point for contemplation written in my journal for this week is, what do I think is a healthy and effective way to deal with conflict resolution? I think the key to any conflict resolution is open communication. Just as I mentioned above, all parties need to watch their own emotions when going into conflict resolutions. Strong emotions can overpower our ability to listen to and to understand opposing view points. Sometimes conflict needs space before resolution. Honesty is also a key component of conflict resolution. What good is it to go into conflict resolution if all you are going to do is mask the thoughts and feelings that need to be resolved? Let the other parties involved know how you REALLY think, feel, and what you want. Expect the same from them. Again, as I mentioned above, self-awareness and accountability is a must have component of balanced relationships AND conflict resolution. You have to be able to know your own limits and to recognize your own faults so you can take accountability for them and change problem behaviors. All parties in a relationship should be doing this. It is also important to respect people boundaries and their way of communicating. Not everyone communicates in the same way that you to. In order to effectively resolve conflict, you have to find out hoe the other person/people communicate and work understand them as you give them space to express themselves. The should do the same for you. Don’t be passive aggressive, reactive, or expect the other person/people to already know how you feel. Understand that you may often be in conflict with those who struggle with resolution more than you do. This heightens the need for understanding, honesty, and patients. However, this also will mean that if the other person simply isn’t working toward resolution, they may not be in a place in their journey where they have dealt with their own shit in order to interact with others in a healthy way. If this is the case, you may have to love and wish them well from a distance, because otherwise their inability to deal with themselves will only continue to ooze out into the way that they deal with you and the other people in their lives.
These shadow work posts are truly intended for my own self development and discovery, but I appreciate those of you who took the time to read this. Tomorrow I will be moving onto a new shadow aspect/card.
Love Always, AnxiouslyM