They are in your family and mine. You met some of them when your partner introduced them to you. These fake, ignorant, negative and absent-minded people are the ones that call you up and say, “How come you don’t come around anymore? We use to be so close what happened? He never bothers with our family. She always stays away…” Let’s assume that everyone, who is reading this article, has become distant from their relatives, not because they are being controlled by anyone or have some mental condition. Rather, you and I don’t bother with some of these people we call “family,” because we would like to live our lives with a little less drama, had some bad experiences with them, or maybe we noticed something negative within ourselves that we don’t like which resulted from being around some of these manipulative family members.
So how does your being distant affect your relationship with them in the present and immediate future? As for those of you who don’t have this kind of family drama, at least not yet, the following will provide you with some insight you will need to keep in mind in case you have to distant yourself too.
One. Expect family to forget about the wrongs they have committed against you.
Many fake, absent-minded relatives fall into this group. They smile and tell everyone how great you are and brag about your accomplishments, but when someone probes about your whereabouts, their expression changes and they will make up some excuse. When you bring up a discussion about the past with them, they don’t remember anything they have done to you, “I don’t remember ever doing that to you…” they say. Yet, they will recite a lengthy list of how you made them feel and what you did to make them so angry. This kind of conversation will usually end with someone shouting, hanging up the phone or walking out the room. It is better to keep one’s distance until you have better control over your emotions and you have forgiven them or vice versa. In some cases, it may be better just to stay away.
These relatives are also the ones that are too ignorant or self-absorbed to understand what part they played as to why you just aren’t excited about being in their presence. Who wants to hang around someone who was violent toward the family and still acts controlling? Someone who is overly critical or can’t seem to keep their mouth shut without insulting someone? Or someone else who drinks or does drugs? There are so many who advise to get over past memories, but sometimes creating distance can be an individual’s way to get over things. So family should expect and respect it.
Two. Some family may remember their faults, but convince others that you exaggerated, lied or will deny anything ever happened.
These relatives are more interested in sharing their negative experience about you to others, but don’t realize how bad they look in those same people’s eyes. Some family members may fall for the exaggerations and lies, because maybe they didn’t have a great experience with you either, while others will know what he or she is up to such as “saving face” and will tell you about it. Ultimately, what these negative types are trying to do is get you to react to their actions, so that they can tell you how they feel while appearing as if they were working things out with you, but you are the “unreasonable, emotional…” one that “never would listen to anyone.”
Three. They will suggest to others that you are at fault and will act ignorant of the details.
Once again these angry relatives feel it is better to place blame, then to hold themselves accountable for their own actions leading to your acting distant. When other family members ask them, “Well why did she really leave? What did you do to cause him not to come around?” They play deaf, dumb, and blind to the questioning, “I don’t know…I could never figure him out…She has always been that way.”
Four. They will keep silent on anything pertaining to you, so that they don’t look like the bad guy or girl.
Some family will just go through life acting as if you never existed. Conversations with your name will come up and they won’t agree, disagree, add to it, or take away from it. They have written you off with or without a notice.
Five. When they see they can’t move you, they will bad mouth you to others.
These family members are the ones that have repeatedly invited you to events, tried to bribe you, used your children to get closer to you, etc. and when they see that you aren’t “coming out of your shell” or “opening up,” things aren’t happening fast enough or their vision of what a close family looks like isn’t being fulfilled, they will talk negatively behind your back. Usually saying something like, “He isolates himself. She is controlling. She never wants to do anything. He is weird.”
Six. They will attempt to control you by making you feel guilty.
“The least you could have done is showed up for your uncle’s funeral…” They want you to come around because someone died, someone needs help, or someone is sick and so on. When you don’t “do as your told,” they tell you something like, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself. What would daddy think? That is your only brother. You know mom always wanted us to be close…” Is your presence really that significant to them or does it really mean they are just trying to get something out of you for their own benefit (i.e. money)?
Seven. They will use other family members to tell you how bad you are for not being close to them.
Your sister suddenly calls with a long conversation about “how we all need to be close,” your dad tells you how much it would mean to him if you would do one thing or another, and they may even use the family pet to howl or meow into the phone giving his or her 2 cent worth! Don’t fall for this trap if you aren’t ready to get back involved with them. Otherwise, you will find yourself resenting them all over again.
But if you are ready to accept them into your life again, protect your heart, even if you are really the one at fault. Don’t do anything you don’t sincerely want to do for them, no matter what they say. If you do, you could be setting yourself up for a relationship based on their needs and not on what kind of person you are. Most of all, never repeat the same mistakes from the past that caused you to become distant in the first place.
Eight. They will use other family members, your partner, children, friends, events, places, things, money, and gifts to get you to act in ways that they believe you should act toward them.
Remember each member of your family has his or her definition of what “close” means to them. Now who really bothers to sit down and interview each one on what exactly do they mean by being a “close” family? Most people don’t even think about it. Maybe you should find out what exactly they mean.
Avoid welcoming your family into your life, before you are ready, just because they gave you money, time, gift or invited you to an event. Not everyone will like one another; therefore, not everyone is obligated to sit down and enjoy one another’s company either. Unless you know that you have addressed past issues that caused your distance or them distancing from you, are mentally strong to deal with their irritating behaviors and the negative things they may say to you, by all means accept them; otherwise leave them alone. You will be saving yourself a lot of unnecessary stress.
Sometimes when family haven’t seen or heard from you in awhile they will start off the conversation talking about a number of issues they directly or indirectly had with you: how they “tried to get in contact with you” and that “you shouldn’t be so distant,” you missed out on a past event, they were going to do something for you but didn’t because they hadn’t heard from you, and so on. If you aren’t ready to hear all of their concerns, suggestions, and complaints, now would not be a good time to pick up the phone, or you might find yourself wanting to hang up on him or her.
“I just want our family to be close,” I’m sure you have heard this quote from someone. However, what this well-meaning family member fails to realize is that their definition of “close” doesn’t and shouldn’t be applied to everyone. As people become older, have families, and think independently, they will interact with others in a way that makes them feel comfortable. “So he doesn’t come to the family home for the holidays? So she wants to stay in a hotel when she comes to visit her mother? So he prefers to spend the day over his in-laws, rather than with you? So she doesn’t like to come around when there are a lot of people over your home! SO WHAT!” Remind yourself to say that to someone who is complaining about their relative’s absence at family events or distance from the family. Remember there are two sides to every story and sometimes it’s better for the other party to just keep his or her distance. Their behavior may or may not have something to do with their fake, negative, ignorant, and absent –minded relatives. “If more people would just leave well enough alone,” as one hypocritical family member commented, “the world would be a better place.”
By Nicholl McGuire