The estrangement happened in a period of 2 weeks following my brother’s wedding where I was excluded/ostracized from many of the things siblings are traditionally included in. Background can be found here. This month marks the second anniversary of the events which set the estrangement in motion.
The first year was marked by relief at not having to put up with my mother’s nonsense any more and anger at my brother & SIL for their behavior. The second has been marked by sadness over the loss of the relationship with my brother and not getting to know/meet my niece. I thought I’d be sadder as the 2nd anniversary of these events has rolled around, but I’m not. I’m sure I’ll still have my moments of sadness and anger, but I’m finally starting to feel some sense of acceptance and peace about all of this.
I went back and read the emails my brother & I exchanged. What strikes me is I was taking far more of the responsibility than I should have. Typical scapegoat/doormat behavior.
I didn’t want this kind of damage to my family relationships. But sadly, these relationships were damaged all along, I just didn’t realize it. It was the family relationship equivalent of termites slowly eating away at the structural support of a house, until there’s a partial collapse. I would have preferred fumigation and shoring up the parts of the house which needed reinforced support. Sadly, that wasn’t possible. Just as one person would be unable to do all that’s needed to deal with a termite infestation, I couldn’t fix these broken relationships alone. The other parties weren’t willing to do the fumigation & shoring up, they preferred to let the house fall down around them. The problem for me was that I was the one getting caught up in the collapse as the structure came down.
The “house” of my relationship with my mother, brother & SIL had to be condemned as unsafe for me and I had to find a new home. That’s speaking metaphorically as I’ve lived on my own since I was a young adult.
I’ve learned about boundaries and how to assert myself. I wouldn’t trade that knowledge or insight for anything as it’s already served me well in the brief time I’ve acquired it and will continue to do so. It may be lonely or sad sometimes, but it’s definitely worthwhile!
Developing a family of choice has helped a lot. I’ve come to regard some of my friends and some of my extended family as my family. I’m grateful for them and they’ve made a huge difference.