Finding Harmony in Broken Families
While This is Going On and On
Resolving Divorce & Remarriage Conflict
We all know that families have histories, some of which are quite painful. Many families have been through divorces that wreak havoc and leave permanent scars on everyone involved, especially the children. In my case, that is not an issue, but it doesn't make it any easier to overcome.
Others quibble over money and who controls the family even long after relatives die and are buried. Others have children who refuse to grow up and the focus of the family changes from the "good, responsible" child to the one in trouble. Resentment builds, and chaos rules as the children are pawned, bartered with, and mostly feel betrayed. .
When you find yourself in the middle because you choose remarriage, you may become the enemy, punishable from all directions. It is wise to take a good look at the family dynamics before jumping into the hornet's nest. Please remember that no matter how good your intentions are, you can't fix other's problems. You are not the cause of it, and you will suffer even if the breakup had nothing to do with you. The children are left to sort life out, without the dream that their parents will ever be together again. It's as if by destroying you, they believe their problems will go away. In some cases, where there were affairs that added to the anger and sense of loss, you will never be accepted.
If the children compete with you for attention, it's not necessarily personal, although it can make you feel unfavorable, and that is not easy or pleasant. If the parent allows it, and you can't talk to them about it, it's usually connected to their sense of guilt over the breakup. If you address it, often they band together and will put you outside their circle out altogether. This is something which must be addressed before you decide to be part of the family. If it is not clear, give some time before you jump into the scenario.
Many families are uncomfortable talking about the issues that come up that create conflict. If their parents haven't done it in a healthy way, it carries on, sometimes for generations. When it comes to our family of origin, some of us carry more baggage than others, but we all have things that are unresolved in our hearts and minds when we leave home. Whether we notice it or not, we are deeply invested in creating the illusion that we are okay no matter what.. Anger not resolved becomes a perpetual theme in our lives, and we play it out in ways that are not beneficial. We have friends, but our friendships are shallow if we can't be authentic about who we are.
Relationships are by nature, complex. We are imprinted by the experiences of early life and the examples that are set for us. These things develop attitudes and approaches in us, that are automatic and often a continuation of past unresolved relationships, whether parent or child. Even in families where divorce is not an issue, the way our parents treated each other has a profound impact on our concept of marriage, to the good or bad.
Other Family Dynamics
I have dealt with rejection in many ways, over the years. I do not consider myself a victim as some would suggest, however I find that when I am in certain situations, where the dynamics are recreated intentionally or unintentionally these experiences have left me wondering why no one else seems to feel awkward or unaccepted.
I chose to take a step back and start observing behaviors in other families in similar situations. The result was staggering. Most needed the healing that I experienced in a number of ways through several different methods and processes. It was the best choice I ever made, not to limit the ways I thought it had to be done. Sometimes space or intervals in contact is necessary.
I came to realize that there are "rustlers" in every family who usually find each other and hang together. They are usually opposite genders, and they really are insecure people. They foster ill-will and don't hesitate to stir it up whenever they can. They feed off of ridiculing or mocking others, and basically have no real life of their own outside discussing everyone elses' shortcomings.
They imagine their lives to be better and more important than the rest of the world. They are self-serving and good at getting what they want without ever really growing up. Their life is one of manipulation, and when they don't get what they want, they wound anyone in the way. You may never win their favor or trust, and that is because they are bent on getting the benefits of whatever it is they think they need, usually driven by attention seeking.
They provoke people, and they do it openly, with no regard to their prey's feelings, or sensitivities. They find humor in hurting others, and then play the subtle game of acting like they have done nothing wrong. While the injured party is reeling from the comments they make and starts to wonder why they aren't liked, they flip and act nice. Yes, you know them..they are bullies, and they are every where!
Bullies: What to Expect and Prepare For
We call them bullies. Those who bully others in the family, their schools, in the business world, if unchecked, often graduate to criminal behavior for the sheer pleasure of domination. One thing is certain: they don't care about you unless you are in the way!
You know the kind, they take pleasure in making people crazy. They are incredible gossips who create lies virtually every time they open their mouths by twisting the truth to suit their agenda. They run at the mouth, not caring how or what they say to anyone. They voice their own opinion without restraint, and don't really care if you want to listen. They are most often loud and overbearing; silence is never sacred in their way of life. They are on the phone constantly proving how necessary and important they are. The sad commentary is that they have a following, usually a large one.
These people can be successful in business, because they don't care who they step on to get there. They can justify their every action, and tell you why they have to do it that way to win. When they get to the top, they brag about how they did it all themselves, as though they were geniuses who had supernatural abilities.
When you watch them, you recognize they don't lift a finger to help anyone, because they expect to be served, carte blanche. They figure out how to get everyone else to do what they won't. How to spot them? Not a problem, they are everywhere. People without conscience, particularly without God, because they imagine themselves to be all powerful in their arena and have no need for Him.
Our society defines them as successful, but are they? If you have them in the family you know it. They have all the answers and expect others to jump at their wisdom and do what they say. They control others, by making them feel like they are not adept at doing anything right, when in reality they know you are smarter than they are. They are "larger than life" rehearsing their own accomplishments regularly while diminishing others.
They may be your spouse, father, mother, sister, brother or any other extended family member. You don't look forward to seeing them, and when you do, you make it a point to have others around you so you can't be held captive. Your life becomes one of external living, because when you do not conform, they will make you pay by giving those who do their bidding special favors. After a short session in their presence, if you are sensitive emotionally or spiritually, you feel like you need a fresh breath of air, and surely you do.
You feel emotionally tired when these people are around because they are predictable in one sense, but unpredictable in the way they catch you off guard. Much is demanded by them, they will suck the life out of you if you let them. You feel as though you can never escape from their clutches, and that is what they want, because they are the most insecure of all. They spend their lives avoiding and hiding from confrontation, particularly when it comes to their lies and behavior. They are accountable to no one. They don't have to follow the rules.
Tips For Survival
In summary, as a response to these observations, when feeling rejected by someone in your family (or anywhere else for that matter) I suggest the following approach:
Don't take it in, it's about them and always will be, you are not to blame you are just there.
Remember who you are. Find other people who are more mature and developed.
You are made in God's image, and if you follow Him, rejection is normal.
Forgive quickly, Jesus said it first: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."
Pray for them, it brings you peace and God is a just judge, you aren't.
Place yourself in a family of good people who model what you value. That is essential.
Blood may seem thicker that water, but God's Spirit rules over all evil.
Don't limit yourself by not addressing the inappropriate nature of the conduct directly. Work through your fear of them. It won't make you popular, but it will bring it out in the open.
Remember that no family is perfect, including you. You can choose good friends who nurture, support and applaud you and share your spiritual values.
When you are overwhelmed, retreat, regroup and get help to work through the issues. Don't let pride keep you from admitting you can't handle it.
Isolation can be deadly, get in a community, whether recovery or spirituality, group settings put things in perspective and help you combat the obvious.
Don't allow their shameful conduct to cause you to retaliate. Stay humble and have a good life. Living well and loving others is the only way to heal. Sometimes you have to do it elsewhere. Make that ok by seeking out someone who can assist you with healing and you will break free in time.