Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dear Rachel - Family Business and Busy Bodies

Dear Rachel,

For as long as I can remember, my parents have pulled me into my sister’s drama. When we were younger, it was limited to things like “help your sister do this project for school so she won’t fail her class / semester / grade” and then as we got older it was more serious situations such as “can your sister crash on your couch for a week to hide out from her psychotic boyfriend” and “please be a witness in court to keep your sister out of jail”.

Finally almost 18 months ago I had enough. I cut off all contact from my family, and I have never been happier. My doctor says I have never been in better physical health. My relationship with my husband and our children - who all support my decision and stand by me in it, has never been better.

The problem is a person who is a family friend. She is constantly working information (i.e. gossip) about my parents and sister in conversation, and asking if I am sure there is no hope for reconciliation. The last time I told her sure, if they can give me back 30+ years of my life that did not revolve around my high maintenance sister, I would consider it.

So tell me Rachel, what do your cards say? Should I keep dodging questions my “friend” asks? Or should I just be blunt? I am not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, but involving myself with my parents and sister is not good for my emotional health. I do not hate them at all. In fact, I still love them dearly. I am just choosing to, for the first time ever, live my own life without their negative influences trying to control every aspect of it.

Thanks for all your help!
Leave Me Alone in Lexington, KY

Dear Lexington,

Wow! What a conundrum! The way I see it, you have an excellent opportunity to demonstrate some much-needed grace and dignity to your family, simply by standing firm in your convictions to maintain a healthy distance. That's just my two cents, let's see what the cards have to say on the matter of dealing with your gossipy girlfriend.

Be blunt! Faithful are the wounds of a friend, after all. My advice to you, Lexington, is to pray and ask for the tactful and loving words that will help your friend understand that you're so much healthier without direct contact from your family. Her round-about attempts at drawing you into the fold are good-natured and positive in intent, keep this in mind when speaking to her, but remember to be firm and focused on your ultimate message of “this topic is off-limits.”

Even though your friend is having a hard time seeing the situation from your perspective, take a moment to see the situation through her eyes. Her family experience is very different from your own, and because of this, she simply can't imagine having emotional distance in the family. The thought pains her, so she assumes you are quietly suffering, which is why she continues to make attempts at third-party reconciliation. Like I said, she means well and her intentions are pure. Now you simply need to convince her that you are better than great, and give a clear warning if she brings up the topic again you won't be so tactful when telling her where she can stick her nose.