Familial relationships on my own terms


A few weeks ago I was chatting with some family about some serious issues happening with one of my relatives.

I was talking about what I think the roots are and that I watched this person suffer some pretty serious abuse and neglect as a child and that it’s no big surprise to me that they’re going through what they’re going through, even though my family has a story about why it’s all happening and it doesn’t include holding adults responsible for the ways they’ve treated or worked to protect their children from abuse or neglect.

One of the people I was talking to had this deer in headlights look, looking back and forth at me and the other person like they couldn’t believe what I was


The other person had on a

“making pleasant” face where reading what they’re actually thinking is difficult. I can’t tell if they’re really able to hear me or if when we hang up the phone they’re gonna mutter some obscenities directed at me.

In the moment I was somewhat amused watching everyone’s faces. I was occupying this very specific moment where I had both the clarity to be watching what was happening objectively and the practice to emotionally separate myself from it.

I had a surge of energy just realizing what it’s like to be free like that.

To be free to speak my mind and not worry what they were thinking, if they agreed, if what I was saying was upsetting or making them sad or angry, if they were judging me.

To see very clearly how much a family relies on stories and secrets to maintain it’s dysfunction and how I’ve made my choice not to participate in that.

And that it doesn’t mean I can’t have a relationship with them.

It just means that I’m showing up on my terms, not theirs.