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Thinking About Family Stuff

Sibling!Several years back, my sister and my [now] wife had a pretty serious falling-out that resulted in both of them not talking to each other since. My wife has made efforts in that area through Christmas cards with notes in them that have gone unanswered.  Actually, my sister has made no effort to contact us or spend time with us since that day, with the exception of a phone call or two on my birthday. Even that has ceased. I have actually grown to be alright with it, especially since it is less insanity in my life to deal with.  I guess I figured the passage of time would make it all "go away."  How wrong I was to think that.

My brother and sister really had not spoken to each other [more than a few words] for many years.  She harbored ill feelings toward him to the point where I might almost consider it to be hatred.  Fast-forwarding to last February, my Aunt Helen died and my brother was contacted by her estate looking for some addresses -- my sister's being one of them.  In conversation with him, she apparently expressed an interest in getting together and alluded to the fact that she had left things on bad terms with my wife when she departed. I gathered from the retelling of the story that she wished to set things right. Interestingly, no call was made to her or me; there was no attempt to contact either of us. Plans were made between them to get together over the 4th of July holiday and I [along with Karen] was expected to attend.

I made it clear [so I thought] to my brother when he issued the invitation that I was not comfortable with it and Karen definitely would not be coming.  He was unhappy with that, but conceded that it was my choice and hoped she - or at least I - would come anyway.  He continued in a subsequent phone call to try to get me to change my mind, but I let him know that it was not going to happen -- I was taking my wife's side in this and he would, also -- had his wife been the target of her anger and ignored these past several years.  I was a little annoyed with that call and spotted his attempt to put me on some guilt trip right away, telling me how disappointed my sister would be.  I jumped on that right away and cited several examples of disappointment with her over the years since my mom's illness.  I guess she came and spent some time with him, but really don't know that and don't see anything on Facebook to indicate they did. Of course, that offers little evidence of anything, since my sister tends to just post silly game-related things. While I have talked to my brother since then, I avoid bringing up the matter and he has offered nothing about it.  I know it's a sore subject with him (because I refused to go) and it is with me, too.

So is it resentment that I am in denial over, or just a refusal to enable her behavior any longer?  I love my sister, but am very disappointed over some of her actions these past several years.  To have visited her [if she even went to my brother's home] over the holiday without my wife would have caused problems between her and myself, as I'm afraid she would see it as my validating my sister's behavior. On the other hand, I have to identify and address my feelings around all of this.  I cannot change how my wife feels because I am not her and I was not treated the way she was.  I also can't forget the fact that she has reached out to my sister through cards each holiday season to zero response, being willing to work this out and 'patch things up.'  The lack of response is a pretty clear message, isn't it?

My love my sister, but this behavior has gone on long enough and I cannot tolerate it any longer.  If that means that I have to put her out of my life, so be it.  Better for us and maybe better for her.  That doesn't mean I stop loving her -- it does mean that I stop enabling this emotional immaturity.  The sad part of this is I really don't miss her and I'm not sure what that's all about.  I basically feel nothing around it all, except occasionally sad -- for the sake of our parents.

I called a friend who is very much a spiritual mentor and laid all this out in a conversation. He completely identified with what I was telling him and told me a little bit about his sister, who he has not talked to in a long time for very similar reasons.  He reminded me that we pick our family as we mature and figure out who we wish to be around and gather inspiration and knowledge from.

My wife comes from a large family, including 7 sisters and 1 brother.  One sister she has not seen in years, nor does she care if she happens to or not.  Her brother she cares a great deal for, but he lives in Hawaii and years pass between visits. Moreover, he doesn't seem to put any effort whatsoever into staying in contact.  He was recently in her hometown (about 6-7 hours from here) and could not bother to let her know he was coming.  She had to find out through a conversation he had with one of her cousins on Facebook that was relayed through one of her sisters.  Originally, when she heard he was coming, she scheduled her vacation to coincide so she could be down there to see him.  Then he called to say he wasn't coming and then, all of a sudden, it was back on. No call. Nothing.  He got together with some cousins and some of her sisters for what they called a "family reunion."  She is really hurt by all of this and says she is going to drop contact with all of them for a while, thinking she will be better off.  That is her call to make.  Perhaps she would be better off.

As I mentioned to her (she certainly knows this, anyway) we make our family with those who we have come to trust and love and form deep spiritual bonds with.  As I age, I see more and more of the big picture and recognize us as all part of God's family (at least those who know Jesus and claim membership in His family).  As time passes, that is the love I am looking for as it is passed to me form the One who is love.

May you come to know the family you seek in the presence of Jesus.

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