(And not because Covid-19)
If life has taught me something is that no matter what we do we can't please everyone. That's right! We simply can't. With stumblings, pain and terrible times, I have learned I must think of myself first!
There was a time when I would cry every night -until I fell asleep- worrying about my relationship with those around me, my family, the in-laws... How would I cope with them when they weren't happy with my life? I must confess those were shitty times. I woke up puffy and swollen and hurting inside. There were nights when I wondered if it would be less painful to be hit by a train or to fall down an endless cliff and break my everything. Or simply just die.
Yeap. It was that bad.
I dreaded the holidays because... where's the fun in meeting with people that were determined to tell you how wrong you are on everything you do? What's the amazing holiday spirit of being punished every single moment for deciding to end your misery and start living for yourself?
For one side, nothing I did was good enough. No matter that I made two bachelor's degrees in 2 1/2 years. No matter I was writing since I was 6. That I had participated in countless contests. Won lots of awards. No matter that I was a great baker. No matter that every time I reinvented myself.
I was never the kind of woman who went crying to people and spills the problems. No. I am one of those girls who cry at night and smile in broad daylight despite feeling dead inside. I would always say "Everything is great", even though it wasn't. But what's the purpose of venting my problems out loud when I knew since I was born I would bear the blame for everything?
I was dissatisfied with my own achievements because nothing I did was big enough. I always thrived for more, and it passed by unnoticed. I was unmanipulable and -for them- that meant I was a shitty person. As I had my own mind and took my own decisions, that made me someone to trash behind my back.
I'll make a few confessions to help you understand why I support staying away from toxic people during the holidays. Maybe you are in a worse position yourself. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you need some uplifting words.
When my ex-husband and the father of my children had an accident that almost killed him, I only received bad judgment and more punishment from those who were supposed to be emotionally there for me. I remember one loved one telling me that the accident was God's sign telling me I should get him back. Everybody around expected me to just leave my kids with people who never cared for them a single bit, who never went to a hospital when they were sick, who never gave them a plate of food, or an equal Christmas present, or even remembered their names right, to stay with my ex at the hospital.
Despite the sadness that his accident caused all of us, I was in no position of leaving my kids (babies by then) alone and go take care of an adult man who had more family and people in his life. That was not my place anymore. My place was with my kids. Despite his needs. Despite the opinion of people, I wasn't his wife anymore. My place had always been the same. With my kids.
The emotional punishment was terrible. I was judged for being a terrible woman because I didn't take him back. But even way before, I was a bad woman because I decided to divorce. It was worse. By deciding to divorce, I was instantly transformed into a bad mom.
I never conceived the idea that being a divorced woman made me a bad mother. And there I was... being pointed at as a bad mom because I was going through a divorce. You know that from that moment on everybody told my kids they loved them more than me because I was divorcing?
By that time, they said to my face that I was wrong. That nobody would support me because of it. That it was my fault if my kids needed a psychiatrist.
Day by day, those people that were meant to love me talked behind my back because -for them- my decision was wrong. I had turned into a woman of the easy life just because I was unhappy in my marriage and decided to put an end to my sadness and misery, and his (I'm not a sweet angel to deal with. I have the temper of ten thousand evils.)
Little by little, I put distance between those people and my tiny little family. I wanted my kids to understand that no matter their decisions, I was their mother. When they are all grown up, I'll support their choices no matter what. Because that's what families do. I won't applaud them for doing wrong, but I won't punish them for deciding to live, to love, or divorce.
I made the mistake of opening my heart to people who pretended to have good intentions. When they couldn't manipulate my way of thinking when they couldn't control what happened in my life, when they couldn't put a stop to their stupid jealousy against their siblings, when they couldn't respect people's opinions and individuality, then I was a bad person. I was a witch, a controlling mom because my kids were respectful despite the terrible things they had endured, I was a male abuser or "castrator" because I divorced. And so on.
I could stay in it for hours but let's go to the important thing.
I learned the hard way that distance was meant to heal. Distance will help to heal your relationship with yourself.
The best thing I did was to forgive those that hurt me badly and never apologized with honesty. By forgiving them, I was ready to move on, to continue living the life I had carefully planned.
That first Christmas that I let them all go, I started to live. It was liberating. The emotional chains that kept me a prisoner of the pain were broken. That day I started to live truly and deeply.
If things are meant to heal... they will. Letting them go was the best action. Years passed by, and a little amount of those people found their way to us again. People who, like me, were healed by the distance and learned the lesson of respect. I'm grateful for them. Grateful for the time apart and their new heart.
They make me believe some relationships are meant to be restored, while others are just meant to be left on their own.
Time has also taught me that some of those people will come as lambs in disguise. Misleading us in their way back to our hearts, just to try to trample us once again. They have a trait that separates a loving one who really needs you in their life from someone who needs to manipulate you to surrender something valuable to them.
The one that truly loves you will apologize and you'll know it comes from the heart. The one that comes with dirt in the heart will never apologize sincerely but will be emphatic on the fact that their wounds were healed. Because they come just to let you know you're the one to blame for their pain while they are innocent victims of you.
Remember all those terrible thoughts I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Fall off a cliff and stuff like that? Today I regret those thoughts. No. It wouldn't have been easier for me, just for them. I just needed to discover I deserved better. I deserved to be surrounded by people who would lift me up instead of trying to bring me down.
It's okay to need the time to care for yourself. It's your right to think of yourself first. It's okay to protect your feelings and decisions and to live the life you want to live. Once you forgive from your heart, you'll start to live. If you must keep a distance from those people who mean bad, take all the time you need. Remember: forgiving has nothing to do with forgetting. No matter how many people try to tell you the contrary!
Send them a postcard, or nothing at all. That's up to you. You don't have to apologize for stopping their emotional abuse.
Make some cocoa for your kids and yourself and simply have some fun. Put some music. Dance. Make your spirit grow. Don't answer the phone. Block them for the holidays, or straight to voicemail! Apps are the greatest invention for ignoring people! Get a getaway holiday vacation! Be unavailable to those who make you suffer, you are always criticizing everything you do! Be enough for yourself and do what makes you happy!
Lots of love,