It is finally Spring here in Minnesota. This long weekend, after a long cold winter, I’m really hoping to plant a garden, maybe write a little bit, but before I can do that I need to do some Spring cleaning – both physically and spiritually. I know that clutter in my home blocks certain types of energy, just as clutter in my spirit has blocked my sense of humor and my ability to write. This spiritual clutter stems from a conflict within my family which even if forgiven, will never be forgotten, and thus needs to be released.
First, lets get one thing straight – I hate conflict. I hate it so much that my fiction writing suffers. I’m so intent on conflict avoidance, that every time one of my carefully crafted villain characters approaches my hero with a dastardly plot twist, they end up sitting down to coffee and working things out amicably. This is great for world peace, not so much for creating dramatic tension. Conflict avoidance is my super-power. A few years ago, my husband’s sister and mother, from their perch in the hills of Missouri, decided that they had had enough of our little Minnesota branch of the family’s liberal ideology and beliefs. So they sat down and put their bigoted and hurtful thoughts in writing, then mailed them to our house, along with a copy of a Glenn Beck book. Both letters were a ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ ultimatum. Blaming and shaming us for choices and beliefs that were different than theirs, leaving neither room for discussion, or rebuttal.
So many things run through your head when your family literally chooses to support a political view, over accepting you. What would you do? You’d want to yell and say unkind things right back at them. You’d want to lash out and confront them. You ask yourself, am I letting myself down when I don’t react to their nasty comments? Would I be seen as a bully if I said out loud what I was thinking inside? Am I weak when I say nothing and let others get away with saying hurtful things? Their aim, I think, besides just to bully us, was somehow to convince us to become more like them. Yeah right, like that was ever going to happen.
I’ve learned that when someone uses mean and hurtful words, you have to remember they’re deeply wounded themselves. They were either treated that way as a child or they’re using nasty words as a defense mechanism, a personal shield to protect them from feeling their own pain. The truth is, people who routinely make nasty comments are usually so unsure of themselves that they tend to attempt to elevate themselves by putting others down. The one thing that came through loud and clear was that they didn’t want to have any more to do with us. OK! Fine with me! Easily done, and to be honest, a relief for me and my children. I welcome ideologic and cultural variety in all people, but always choose NOT to assoicate with anyone who is negative, angry or beligerent. These two women were all of that and more. But they are Downtown Dad’s family, and while he was more than happy to be rid of his toxic sister, cutting off contact with his mother was going to be more difficult. He patiently waited out his anger and hurt, and had just recently re-established short but civil conversations with his mother, when she suddenly passed away.
This turn of events and our decision to stay away from the memorial, served to open up another volley of passive aggressive emails from his sister. Our reaction to this was the same as our original reaction – take the high road, turn the other cheek, ignore the attack, and above all avoid conflict. Although if you’ve ever read this blog, you know what I really wanted to do was fire back with verbal guns a-blazing. But, I realized that if I did that, I’d be stooping to her abusive level, bullying, exactly as she’d done to us. Realizing that fact though, did little to stop the angry voices in my head. So, that’s what this post is about. I have said what I wanted to say. I have brought this dirty piece of business into the light, and by doing so have swept a large piece of negativity out of my life.
I write this today because it is Spring, and with this season of renewing and refreshing comes Spring cleaning, both physical and spiritual. Just as I sweep away the dirt from my home, I’ve decided to sweep away the unnecessary negative influences that affect my heart and mind.
NOTE: 6/23/13 I decided I’m going to add pictures to this from time to time that reinforce my message.