Recently I have been on a “decluttering” kick. Each week I spend a good deal of time going through my house and getting rid of things I don’t need, or I don’t use.
Striving for minimalism has always been easy for me. I’m not a nostalgic person, so I have no trouble tossing something that isn’t serving me. I’m in a constant state of maintaining order and minimalism in my physical surroundings.
Lately, though, I’ve taken my “purging” to a new level. In addition to literally cleaning house, I have been figurately “cleaning house” when it comes to my family and friends.
I have extended family and once close friends who I have just had to “let go.” When both of my parents were alive, I made the effort to be around a lot of these folks. Mainly because my parents’ house was typically the meeting place for aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends.
Now that my parents have both passed, I rarely see those people anymore. And to be frank, it doesn’t bother me. I have no desire to be around many of them. I feel no obligation to try to either. You might think me callous or rude and you may be right.
Breaking off ties with family members is one of the hardest decisions we may face in life because we are conditioned to think that “nothing is more important than family.” But I disagree. Most of these people I would never choose for them to be part of my life were it not for forced get-togethers during my youth and a sense of false obligation and “people-pleasing” syndrome during most of my adulthood.
Saying Good-Bye to Negativity
It took me 47 years to finally drift away from most of my extended family.
I am at a point in my life where I do not tolerate any kind of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, or misogyny. The often-heard excuses of “Oh they come from a small town, they can’t help it,” or, “Well that is their religious and/or political beliefs so you should respect that” are unacceptable.
I am ashamed to say that I have in the past rationalized this behavior using those same, flimsy excuses. No more. I have a strong, unwavering “no tolerance” rule for myself now when it comes to that kind of behavior. I regret I didn’t instill that rule sooner.
I also was sexually assaulted by a relative when I was young and have been seeing him at family stuff for over 40 years (#MeToo). I don’t need to be around him or his family for any reason.
I feel no obligation to attend family reunions, weddings, or even funerals. Although it took me 47 years, I do believe had I made the decision to cut ties any sooner I may not have had the same fortitude to stand by my convictions.
Life is too short to be around anyone or anything that does not serve you well.
Last week I blocked 400 FB “friends” because I am taking a stance against the things I mentioned above. I want my orbit to be full of people who share the same morals, beliefs, and principles as me. I want to make them feel good and they, in turn, make me feel good.
I thought that by severing ties I would feel regret or loneliness. The opposite has been true. I feel alive, emboldened, and proud of myself. Just because you are from the same family tree as someone, doesn’t mean you have to wither away and die on that tree.
Saying Hello to Peace
The moment I decided to cut off my branch of the family tree, I thought I would come crashing down. But that didn’t happen. What did happen, was a gentle, peaceful drift, like a leaf in a mild breeze. I landed in a better place and I found that by replanting myself somewhere where I can nurture and grow in the best environment possible, that I, in return, was able to provide an endless bounty for the people that have landed and bloomed there with me.