My parents are downsizing from their home to a condo that they bought years ago and were renting out during that time. For tax purposes they need to live in it for a certain amount of time before selling it and so that is what they are setting out to do. They are looking forward to living in their church’s seniors’ complex after that. They have many plans for dealing with their 70 plus years of accumulated possessions including a large yard sale. They also wish to ready their house for sale while renovating the condo before they move in.
While I’m on no contact with my siblings, I have decided to remain low-contact with my parents for the sake of honour to them. I didn’t tell them that and they wouldn’t care about me honouring them, but I do it because God told us to and I understand why. In light of that, I told them if they need anything from me to just let me know. I even let them know what I knew I was a whiz at, like painting and edging. I reminded them twice that I was available to help them with anything.
In an open family email they updated us with their plans and mentioned that my sister and her husband were starting to help with the renos this weekend at the condo. OF COURSE the first thing I think of is that they didn’t ask me to come help. I sort of knew they wouldn’t, which is why I found myself before reminding them twice.
I realized that part of why I felt I needed to help them is that my whole family will know through my parents’ “send to all” emails that I never helped. The family won’t know that I made offers that were never taken up on, they will just never read my parents mentioning I did something for them through this process.
If that is my real fear then maybe I need to reconsider how much I’m going to let it bother me what the family thinks. My brothers, sisters, and in-laws will not care that I’m not present as they themselves come through town to help them. This is part of my letting go of wishing they DID care that so many scapegoats have to go through when choosing no-contact. You still hold out that maybe even one of them will notice or will be bothered by it.
So, they may never care that they just stopped seeing me or hearing from me, or even of hearing OF me. I can’t even think of it as a form of punishment to them that this happens because, like I said, they may actually prefer it. But it doesn’t hurt for me to take the position that perhaps it may still make them wonder that I’ve removed myself from the family without giving notice. Maybe it might give them a little pang of guilt that maybe they kind of pushed me out, or didn’t ask of me enough.
The knowledge of this possibility has one purpose in helping me. I can use it to remind myself that I’m not powerless – my decisions and actions are not without ripples in my sphere of influence. I have taken the upper hand by removing myself from the family theater. I’m so used to thinking of myself ineffectual and inconsequential to this world and I’m finally healing enough to realize that, no, I DO have an effect. You can’t be in this world and not affect it. God has given me this ability to move things, change things, speak things, and affect things as much as anyone else as I, too, am made in the image of God and told to take dominion of the Earth.
I’ve decided that I have offered twice and I now leave it to my parents to let me know if they need anything. I don’t care if my siblings think I never offered, or that they may be a little glad I’m not there. That should start pricking their conscience at some point, the ones who have one.
And all this reminds me of something that I say to myself so often now: I’m so preoccupied with whether or not other people accept me that I forget to consider that maybe it’s not a relationship I want anyway. That turns the table and reminds me that I’m not dictated to by the relational decision of everyone else but that I can make them too.