It’s 10:30 at night and instead of enjoying extra time with my husband or going to bed…I’m sitting here, almost fuming with frustration. All because I didn’t listen to my instincts.
I’ve done a pretty great job at making myself and my mental health a priority, especially when it comes to toxic relationships, overall but specifically with family members. I have put in the grueling effort to create boundaries, voice those boundaries, and keep them.
Since implementing this, I have seen tremendous amounts of progress in myself over the last couple years. It was definitely uncomfortable at first and came with a lot of push back, but with time the line became clear and people actually started respecting me! I could see this was healthy and definitely what I needed. Lately, my anxiety and depression have been at an all time best. That’s something to be proud of considering 2 years ago I was having panic attacks almost daily.
Yet here I sit, wondering why I gave in this time. and to be honest I don’t have a definite answer for myself. I think I convinced myself that this time it wouldn’t hurt me. I was doing it for someone else who felt the need to appease. I was wrong. It’s frustrating how something as simple as a baby shower invitation leads to such chaos and anxiety.
I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself; let me back up.
Last month we hosted our baby shower. I like to be involved in planning so I had a lot of final say when it came to things like location and invitations. I wrote up my list of who to invite, keeping it small with the people who were local and had played a big part in our lives, especially over the last year. We had under 25 including family and a few friends.
After reviewing my list, it was suggested that we add a few more distant family members that had been left off the list. I’m not going to go in to specifics on the history but it’s been tumultuous for years. Not to mention I haven’t heard from or spoken with these specific individuals in at-least 2.
A close member of my family who had a lot to do with the shower, being the peace keeper that they are, insisted that forgiveness and “being the bigger person” were the right thing to do. (Hint, while these weren’t meant to be harmful are very toxic ideals)
Extra invitations were sent out only to be met with no reply, other than indirectly through the grapevine. I later received a sweet gift which I was told they had also contributed to. This was obviously very frustrating as I would have preferred simple communication with an actual RSVP or a “Hey congratulations!” over what felt like a “to do list” gift contribution.
But, I let it go. I spent my energy enjoying celebrating with the people who actually acted like they gave a shit. Because honestly, it didn’t surprise me. It’s happened before.
I sent out thank you notes-minus 1, which is honestly a huge accomplishment for me! I’ve always felt guilty that I never was able to get them sent out after our wedding. But between the honeymoon, my extremely stressful job, and my mental health being at an all time low…. I just couldn’t .
I’m a person who values honesty. I put a lot of value and weight behind my words. So I blanked on what to write to a person who had sent me a third party gift and didn’t bother to reach out with an RSVP or simple congratulations. That tells me that the gift is all about show and no heart. Which I’m not about in the slightest. So, I hesitated.
After consulting with my mom I decided I’d write a simple “thank you for contributing, we love the gift!” But over the next couple weeks we had a lot of stressful events happen and the holidays were coming up, so my appeasing thank you note got put on the back burner.
And that’s when shit hit the fan apparently. Again, through a 3rd party source I hear that over thanksgiving dinner there was an argument about this individual not receiving their thank you gift and how “hurt” she was.
But wait there’s more. During this discussion it was also mentioned that the reason I didn’t receive a gift or congratulations from another family member was because I never sent out thank you notes for our wedding gifts.
Let me just say, that while I’m beyond thankful for every gift I got, I could give a shit about getting a gift from you if it’s coming from that kind of motive. You can keep it.
Did I once get a phone call to address the issue ? Nope. Did any of them once ask how I was doing ? Nope. And I wasn’t about to blast all over FB that I was having a panic attack literally every day of my life for months on end, just so they knew why they weren’t receiving thank you notes after our wedding.
This is exactly why my original invitation list was cut down. I don’t need the drama from “family” who don’t act like family. Family doesn’t talk to literally every single other person about an issue they have expect for the person they have the issue with. Family don’t give you the silent treatment and expect you to reach out and fight for their attention. Family don’t jump to conclusions because you didn’t send a thank you note. Family call and ask how you’re doing. Family don’t except things in return of a gift.
Sadly, this is the least major example of how toxic these relationships have been for my immediate family over the course of the last 10-20 years. I could list the hurtful things they’ve done to me and my immediate family, but it’s not about complaining, or specifics, or getting even.
I’m writing this post simply to encourage you. If you have family members who are toxic, it’s okay to cut them off. It’s okay to not communicate with them anymore. It’s okay to leave them out of big events. You don’t have to feel guilty about moving on. The truth is, forgiveness is a powerful thing on a personal level, but it won’t change their behavior. Being the bigger person doesn’t mean you hang on to the anxiety and stress of a relationship that is only causing you harm.