It took three stages and nearly four years but I’m proud (and sad at the same time) to say that my family of origin is officially cut off. This may sound strange coming from someone who can have no more children, but BabyCenter helped me a lot with this. They have a board called Dealing with the In-laws and Family of Origin (DWIL Nation). For one thing, it’s nice to see that I’m not the only one who has felt the need to cut family off entirely. (And many of you know all about time outs and cut offs and all that entails!) I’m a major lurker on the board and it’s been invaluable. I highly recommend it as a source of support.
It’s been interesting to look back and see how the stages came about. In the first stage, being around my FOO was triggering so I had to step away. I always knew it could go either way in the end, either being around them again or cutting them off entirely. I really didn’t know how it would end up but I hoped I could be around them again at some point. I sent letters out to several family members explaining that I needed some time to get myself together and that I loved them. At this point in my life (present day) I would only barely even consider such letters because I know I don’t have to JADE (justify, argue, defend, explain). But back then it was where I was at with it all.
About nine months after sending the letters my brother contacted me and we did talk on the phone and see each other occasionally for a couple years. I saw family once (twice?) when we celebrated a birthday or something. I ran into my aunt a few times at the store and would talk to her for a few minutes. Last year, even before my grandmother died, my brother was calling less and I wasn’t willing to call him myself. I haven’t heard from him since the day he let me know about Grammy’s memorial service. I suspect he may be upset that I didn’t go to pay my respects even though it didn’t make sense for me to reconnect with family at an event like that. By this time, it was just easier to stay away from my family.
Since my Grammy died last year, I’ve thought a lot about my family. Around the holidays I was really missing them but I also knew that wasn’t the right time to reconnect. I planned on visiting my aunt and brother early in the spring but the more I thought about it the more I realized I really didn’t want to. I missed my family in certain ways (and still do) but not enough and not in ways to give me a push to see them. As spring has come into summer and especially as this summer has gone by I’ve realized that we have practically nothing in common. At first I thought that sounded callous and awful, but what’s callous about the truth? I can hardly imagine they feel some strong connection to me at this point, either.
Part of the not having anything in common is the fact that my life is completely different than when we saw each other, and they have no clue what my life is like now. They know I “go by” Kali but they don’t know why. They don’t know what I do with my daily life. They don’t know about my older son being diagnosed with high functioning autism a year ago. They don’t know I got my tubes tied two years ago. Or that I get allergy shots. They don’t know me! And how do you explain some of these things to people? Why I had to step away? Why I’m Kali? Even how a 23 year old finally gets diagnosed with autism. I knew that explaining these things would end up being huge JADE sessions with my critical, condescending aunt. And I’m not willing to put myself through that, because I deserve better. It was time to be done.
I guess there’s actually a stage three and a half. The half being, I don’t give a flying fuck what anyone thinks about the fact that I have no interest in being around my FOO and feel hardly any connection to them anymore. I don’t care who thinks what. It matters not that my family may feel I’m a heartless bitch. It’s inconsequential that even my parents in law may think I made the wrong choice just for my own comfort. (I have no proof of this, it’s just a suspicion.) I don’t care what anyone thinks about it, and that is the biggest, best part of it all. The most freeing.
And that, my friends, is improving major life dynamics by making a complete family of origin cut off in three (and a half) stages in four years. I’m freaking proud of myself!