“You have taught me that I am allowed to like myself as I am, at whatever stage I am in. I can change, I can stay the same, or I can be whoever it is that is right for me; but I can be satisfied. No, more than that. I can be proud. I can celebrate. That is what I am going to do.”
― Jessica Park
The thing about family issues and estrangement is it seems we always get another chance to see how far we've come with our own healing. In the moment we find ourselves challenged by a family member’s poor behaviour, their dysfunction, or their inability to move forward – we have the best opportunity to measure ourselves.
We may not feel grateful in the moment that crappy family or relationship issues are happening. No one likes dealing with drama and it's pretty easy to fall into asking, “why me, why is this happening?” Or “will this never end?” However, when we are able to take a few steps back and assess our responses, externally and internally, we may be quite surprised to find that we feel really good.
Measuring how far you’ve come
Maybe we don’t play drama any more. Maybe we don’t tolerate avoidable crisis, manipulation, poor communication or blame. Maybe we refuse to be anyone’s scapegoat or rescuer. Maybe we take care of ourselves first, no matter what. Maybe even in the midst of extreme provocation, we adhere to our intention to move with honesty, integrity and caring – even when we’d rather lash out, cut off or run.
These are the moments we work for in our personal growth, understanding and healing. One of the best ways we can measure this growth is when it is pitted against the very soul destroying sort of dysfunction that in the past would bring us to our knees.
We have a bad day, or a bad hour instead of a bad month or year
Sure, we might make mistakes, we might not handle things perfectly – but as long as we can see what is, rather than creating drama, we simply pick ourselves up out of the dirt, brush ourselves off, and get on with it. We're responsible for the things we are responsible for and no more. We learn to leave our family members to sort out their own problems and deal with their own responsibility – or not. We finally understand that either way, their problem is not our problem.
It's a bit funny how rarely we talk about feeling a sense of accomplishment or pride - almost like it's a bad thing. Yet dealing with estrangement is hard and soul stretching learning. Estrangement can push us to grow, learn new skills, conquer challenges and be better tomorrow than we were today. The skills we learn and use to manage our estrangements, translate into every other relationship in our lives.
We should absolutely feel proud of what we've accomplished, how far we've come.
So a shout out. If you find yourself feeling stronger, more resilient, more capable, go ahead, bask in the glow of work well done. You've earned it.