NOTE: This post appeared in its entirety on Essence.com (different title)
It has always amazed me how much dysfunction we allow in our lives, and we do so for the most ludicrous reasons. You ask, “Why do you stay with a guy who disrespects you?” She answers, “Because I love him!” (In a Jamie Foxx dressed as Wanda voice.) “Why do you remain friends with a pathological liar?” you ask. “Everybody deserves a second chance,” she says, even when we’re all aware that this is something like chance #122. And, of course, my absolute favorite: Why did you let your cousin move back in with you when she already robbed you blind the last time? “Because we are family,” comes the deflated reply. At this point, I just walk away shaking my confused little head.
When it comes to dysfunction, I hear this sort of foolish commentary all the time, and what I wonder most is, how many people actually know what dysfunction really looks like? Why do we feel so pressured to make allowances for crappy behavior? There’s one specific kind of dysfunction that burns my britches: Those who argue that when it comes to family, everything must be forgiven and any and all behavior should be allowed or at least accepted.
NAKED TRUTH ALERT: Dysfunctional behavior is damaging, no matter the source. It is your human right (and responsibility) to live and thrive in peace and happiness without being abused or mistreated. DNA does not remove that inalienable right. Behavior should never be measured and forgiven solely based on a familial connection.
Another piece to this puzzling boo-boo the fool behavior is the social pressures that families and friends inflict on anyone who decides to distance themself from the drama. You know, those who day things like, “You only have one Mama!” or “Blood is thicker than water!” These phrases of doom leave many people feeling guilty and forced to accept awful acts that cause them pain. ??Many of us have been in that position, including me. I decided to distance myself from a ratchet relative who rained chaos wherever he went. Almost no one agreed with me—my friends judged me; relatives stopped talking to me; others called me “cold” and “unforgiving.” But I knew I was in the right, and that my happiness and peace of mind was the evidence (and benefit) of my decision.
After about six years, I patched up things with my callous kinfolk, but it sure as sunshine wasn’t because I simply forgave him or overlooked his bad behavior. We reconnected because he changed. He got a second chance, because he proved himself worthy of it. I saw consistent changes in his behavior over a period of time that convinced me that I was dealing with a less abusive personality than I had encountered before. Setting boundaries to keep others’ damaging behavior from hurting you is a key factor in finding authentic joy. One guiding principle in that journey is that if someone is not contributing to your happiness, at the very least, they should not detract from it.
I give you permission. You are allowed to distance yourself from the drama and abuse, no matter what kind of relationship it is clothed in. Don’t let longing or guilt rain continued damage upon your soul. You have the power to part the clouds of discord and allow sunshine into your spirit by any means necessary.
Jai Stone – The Emotional Nudist
Jai Stone is a socialpreneur, author, syndicated blogger and the founder of the Emotional Nudity Lifestyle Brand. Jai writes about love, life and the pursuit of authentic joy. Follow her on Twitter @JaiStone or visit her blog.