…and gag, as Erma Bombeck once said.
How do you know when to cut people loose? When do you know it’s time, for your own health and sanity, to stop communicating with a family member (or friend)? What is the best way to go about doing this?
Whether you’re having issues with a friend or family member, there comes a time in the lives of most people when they’d rather not continue a relationship. There could be many reasons: lack of commonalities or differing interests; lies and untruths and misconceptions or misperceptions; or even a time and place where communication simply needs to be cut back, or ended completely, just to preserve the peace.
Having written about familial issues during the past week, I’m sure you can see where this is going. Quite frankly, I’m tired of being the filling in the generational sandwich. Time to move on, and let the bread do whatever it wishes. Yeah, I know – bad analogy, but it’s the best I’ve got on short notice!
I cannot cut off my son; he’s mine, and I love him. Besides, he’s a minor in the eyes of the law, even though he towers over me, and I do very much want to see him improve his life, his chances, and make something of himself.
So I try to do what any conscientious parent does: make HIM responsible for his choices, try to make him see what the consequences of his actions really mean; show him that I am completely serious and that HE must make of his life what he will. He’s old enough now, and we’ve covered the basics with him since the beginning so he should be well-grounded; and so he should have all the tools at his disposal to become productive and accountable to himself, and to the rest of the world. There isn’t a lot more we, as parents, can do.
As for the other piece of bread, I’ve already taken some difficult steps in that direction; or, you could say that I’ve already removed the crust, but the rest of it should probably be thrown out as well.
Seriously, though, what do you do with a grandparent who so obviously favors one grandchild over another? One who not only speaks her own opinions and thoughts regarding your decisions but does so to your children, and who makes negative comments to others about you that are completely out of context with the conversation? And especially, one who claims to remember things that never occurred, or actually fabricates stories and claims they are the truth?
Honestly, not much. I stopped calling a long time ago; I stopped emailing several months past, although I’ve been answering hers – mostly just responding briefly to questions she asks.
I’ve been very hurt, and very shocked, and even completely crushed by her stories and gossiping – because that is, after all, what she’s doing. Now, I don’t know many of her friends, have never met most, but the damage is not in them hearing her tales, but to me in hearing of them myself. It doesn’t really matter how I know or when I hear these things, they hurt just the same. This is, after all, my mother, who gave me life and was supposed to nurture and protect me – even now, as an adult, I always thought she’d be on my side and support me.
While thinking about all this the past few days, I’ve come to realize that there is not a single thing I can actually do except stop all communication, and end the relationship itself. There isn’t much left, as I’ve spent the last year or so trying to make her see the truth of my son’s issues and problems and all she’s done is believe him and denigrate, discuss, and “diagnose” me.
I can’t make her stop talking about me, but I can stop listening to reports; I can’t make her treat her grandchildren equally, but I can prevent my younger two from any contact with her. I can’t even change her recollection of history – I tried.
Some months ago, nearly a year actually, I wrote her a lengthy letter. I told her about my feelings, and I tried to get her to see the truth. She wrote back one sentence, which indicated that I was in error and that she was correct in her words, actions, and perceptions. You see, it doesn’t really matter what I say because she twists everything to fit her version of reality. And as any thinking person knows, there is reality, and there is one’s perception of such – that perception does not make it true.
And it really makes me wonder what else she’s said over the years that were not truthful or accurate; I know of several things, but probably not all of them.
So my original questions still stand: when do you know it’s time, and how do you cut a toxic person out of your life and move on? The answer, for me, is right now, by stopping all communication. Will I be successful? I don’t know. But I’m starting, today, right now.
Funny, actually: if she ever reads this, I’m sure it will be the talk of her circle, of course with her added commentary. But I won’t know about it. And I’m trying hard not to care. That’s the most difficult part.