We can’t choose our birth family. But we can choose to let individuals go, if we realize they’re destructive to us. And nothing lasts forever — it’s enough to hold love for them, express love and amends as much as they will accept (we always have to clean OUR side of the street, no matter how big an asshole the other is), and then move on with our own life — the only life and happiness we are ultimately responsible for, and the only life and happiness that nobody else on the planet will take care of. To live in frustrated anxiety about the other “coming around” and meeting in the middle is to abandon the minutes or years of OUR life that can otherwise be good, and clean, and joyous if we just let the other go with God.
After that? Well, the Big Guy (or Gal, if you like) is ultimately in control of all the rest of this time called life, and you never know what surprise miracles God may cook up if you’ll just let go of trying to be in charge of the whole world for a change. Watch “Home Alone” again. 😉 That brother, or aunt, or father may choose a new way with you, once you’re not pushing.
And they may not.
You’re not alone. Every dysfunctional family has you-know-who’s that everyone else unconsciously agrees to treat specially. And by specially, I mean in ways that they neither need nor deserve — it damages closeness and trust among all in the family, the walking-on-eggshells pampered ones included. It hurts everybody. The best thing you can do for a family member, when you see this happening, is stop trying to assume responsibility for their happiness. Trying to carry that responsibility is the guaranteed way to make sure they will never BE “happy,” because a sick system requires an unspoken agreement for everyone to act their unhealthy roles. If you truly love someone and hope for their genuine happiness, break the cycle that holds them back from it. That may require your own moving on.
Secondly: We CAN choose to trust and open up with others we meet along our path, and that forms a real family, too. One with no “leverage” over others, or guilting, or shaming. No secret rules about what we shouldn’t say, or do, to avoid antagonizing “you know who.”
So build your chosen family with care and courage and set the ground rules for yourself early — choose to be someone who will not add to the chaos for others, but one who contributes to healing it. Choose to practice the self-respect that expects respect and decent treatment from your new family. And give, give, give — BE what you want to receive. Just being present is often enough for a real friend to get the “psychological air” (Stephen Covey’s phrase — giving full credit) to find solutions for himself. You can have peace of mind for you, and add value for others, without lifting a finger. Who doesn’t want a job like that?