When I tell people that I hadn't talked to my dad for a year or so before he died, I cannot tell you the number of times I get all sorts of looks of horror as if I've committed some awful crime.
I realize that some people feel as though family members should get a lot of extra chances, even if they've hurt you deeply. In fact, I was one of those people.
But now I say "screw that." These days, I'm all about protecting my heart. If only I had done that sooner.
I admit that most people understand there's probably more to the situation than me simply writing off my father. And not just because some of them know me and know that I wouldn't give up that easily, but also because situations like this usually involve repeat offenses or something pretty awful that would make a person finally say, "ENOUGH."
I started to look at my relationship, or really lack thereof, like I would a friendship. Or heck, even a business relationship. At what point when you feel like you're constantly getting burned or treated poorly do you decide that you've had enough?
Probably a lot sooner than you might with your own father.
But really, how is it that much different? You're putting your heart out there, outstretching your hand for it only to get crushed. And slapped.
And while I'm a pretty strong person and like to consider myself someone who doesn't give up easily, as well as someone who's willing to work on her problems, I've decided that at a certain point, I needed to take care of myself and my own feelings.
Sure, I could certainly greatly lower my expectations, which probably would be helpful.
Or I could decide that there's not anything I can do that I really feel I should do and move on.
This is pretty challenging, of course, because, well, I think we all want to believe that the person will change.
Now my father died before I had kids, but I probably would have written him off sooner if I had been a mom when he was still alive. I mean, if the other person isn't even really making an effort to see or talk to them, why should you try to continue that relationship for your children? What message is that sending them -- that one person sometimes has to take all the responsibility to keep a relationship going?
It's not something I would take lightly.
But I truly believe at some point you need to put on your "big girl" pants and decide you deserve better. And if that person isn't going to respect you and offer some sort of glimpse of hope that they're willing to engage with you in a meaningful way, your energy can be spent on other more important things and people.
Have you ever "broken up" with family or close friends?
Image via Cuba Gallery/Flickr