In fact, two of my step-cousins on my mother's side of the family un-friended me on facebook within hours of my putting the link to my forgiving my mother post on facebook! I'm still quite amused by it, considering that they feel they're such very, very good christians. As I wrote in one of my comments, "...unfortunately, I grew up with a very distorted view of christians because of how unloving and un-Christ-like my mother's family is. I've also experienced a lot of abuse at the hands of so-called christian churches. I have to admit having a bias against christians because of it, which made me realize I'm being as judgmental (i.e. hating and fear-based) as they are. Fortunately, though, I've found some people who actually try to live by Jesus' teachings, and they've helped me see that there are christians and then there are Christians."
The funny thing is, my mother absolutely hates her brother and his third wife and her daughters. I grew up with a constant stream of her hate directed at them. More on that later. She also thinks they're going to "hell in a hand basket" because they're the kind of christians that writhe on the floor, foam at the mouth, and speak in tongues. It's interesting to see the various sects in christianity that think people who aren't their particular, narrow brand of christianity are going to hell.
Anyway, I digress...
A couple other people mentioned how they're not surprised that my step-cousins unfriended me because that's what has happened to them, or would, if they would write something like I did. And it brought up the ol'...
Let's not talk about the elephant in the room.
When you grow up in an unhealthy environment, you're not ever able to voice questions that maybe...just maybe...this isn't all that healthy of a family. If you do voice something to that affect, you're punished implicitly and perhaps even explicitly. You're given the message that you're not to talk about such things and to ignore reality, which can cause you to have a lot of problems later in life. After all, you were made to ignore something very real - abuse - so after awhile, you just to ignore it and your other impressions of people and situations as you go about living. That's why a lot of us grow up to marry or get involved with abusers. And that's also why we don't recognize the abuse we give ourselves - that constant stream of verbally abusive self-talk that we got a daily dose of from our family growing up.
Not talking about the elephant in the living room is also rooted in the tribal system, as Caroline Myss calls it in her book, Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing. (Please note: affiliate link). When I was prompted by the Divine to write this post, I remembered her book. I thought I was writing this post for others, to let them know that hey, you know what, if you've been shunned by your family for voicing the truth of your abusive upbringing, it's okay. You're not alone.
But the divine always has a message for everyone, and what I read in the book as a refresher for this post spoke volumes to me. :)
Since I'm not sure what the magic number of words you can quote directly from a book is, I'll mostly paraphrase.
We're all familiar with tribes; in today's language, it's basically our family. Myss connects it to the seventh chakra, which is at our root/tailbone area. The very first highlighted paragraph I read for this post talked about how the tribal/seventh chakra is connected to our legs, bones, skeleton, feet, and more. How interesting that the past couple weeks I've not been able to sleep very well because my hips and back are bothering me. I do have a birth defect in my spine that often causes me pain, but I'm mostly in remission and don't have much pain if I keep active. The pain has been bothering me so much that I haven't been able to sleep much the past couple weeks.
Hmmmm...is there a connection? Me thinks there is! (Although I am taking some hormone balancing herbs since oftentimes my hormones cause my joints to hurt, but hey, as they say, there are no such things as coincidences)!
According to Myss, if I'm having problems in these physical areas, then I'm having problems with tribal issues. I will have to investigate this further. I believe I have fully forgiven them. Their unfriending me on facebook was somewhat of a surprise because I didn't think they read any of my postings. Since they consider me of the devil now and having "switched teams," I didn't think they cared to keep me in their news feed. By the way, "switched teams" is a direct quote from one of them when referring to quoting the Dalai Lama, which I often do on facebook. This, despite the Dalai Lama promoting nothing but love, compassion, and acceptance. How that can be of the devil is beyond me, but then again, it really isn't. I remember that mindset of fear when I was a christian. By grace, I was saved from that mindset. (More on that later, too)!
So, yeah, I was a little surprised that they unfriended me cuz I really didn't think I registered on their radar anymore. This despite my trying to keep in touch with them.
So have I forgiven them? Yes, they act the way they do out of fear. I'm tempted to say they act out of hate, but I've heard that the opposite of love isn't hate, but fear. That resonates with me, so I will try to use that word more often. After all, when we "hate" something, it's really because we fear it.
But despite the forgiveness I've given to that side of the family, I think I still have sadness that they never loved me, and that is something I have to work on. As a kid, all I ever wanted to do was love everyone and give everyone my sunshine, despite the horrors going on in my family.
Recently, a childhood schoolmate mentioned in a private message that one of the things she remembered about me was that I was always drawing smilie faces. I had totally forgotten about that. And then in 7th and 8th grade, the school janitor nicknamed me "Sunshine" cuz I was always smiling, even though things were getting worse at home. Even today, when I briefly worked out of the home earlier this year, one of the grumpy co-workers said: "Tracy, I don't know how you do it. You're going through so much right now, and you always have a smile on your face." (This was when we were having car problems, lost the car cuz it was too expensive to fix, and our beloved dog was dying).
So, with that in mind, I need to work on going beyond the forgiveness and work still on getting over the fact that they never loved me, as well as working on judgment. I still have a problem with people choosing fear over love. I realize on an intellectual level that we all have our own paths to take, but sometimes it's just hard to believe that when certain paths deliberately hurt others. Then I remember that I'm being just like them: dictating how people should believe and behave, despite knowing full well that the Divine Creator has given us all free choice. :)
Here are some great quotes from the book: "If we can view our tribal circumstances as 'arranged' to promote spiritual advancement, not physical comfort, we can consider painful events as being essential to our personal development rather than as punishments for our actions." (p. 123)
"We must strive not to become bitter or cling to victimhood when we are betrayed or cannot attain what we want.... We need to trust that we have not been victimized at all and that this painful experience is challenging us to evaluate..." (p. 125).