Is choosing yourself over your family selfish?
I mulled over this week’s E&OC for a good amount of time. Originally, I wanted to post something fun and light-hearted because the past few weeks have been heavy. But, things happened last week that weren’t fun, and I feel it would be dishonest to the purpose of this blog to not talk about it. I’ll add funny TikTok videos at the end to make up for it. I want to discuss if choosing yourself in family problems is selfish.
It is no secret that my family and I have had our fair share of difficulties, especially from when I was younger. I think when things are consistently hard, delaying tough conversations can be good. But only to a certain point. Sometimes family members will start new chapters in their life and the chance you had to talk about it disappears.
Well, that’s what happened last week. One family member called me, asking for my help in helping them prepare for the next chapter of their life. My brother, with who I have a really tense relationship. Honestly, it broke my heart to say no. I feel a lot of stress and pressure to resolve issues with him. And at the same time, I feel that my sincerity is not returned.
During the phone call, I explained that I didn’t think it was genuine if I helped because I don’t feel I can celebrate with him when there is so much unspoken. He said he had no idea that there was anything wrong.
Last week I spoke about three aspects of friendships that can be applied to all relationships; being there, being aware, and being. My brother failed all these aspects. There is something incredibly grating when it comes to siblings who refuse to acknowledge their behaviour. Who gaslight you into thinking there you’re the one who has the issue but not because of anything they have done.
Word of advice, never say ‘I don’t act that way in a discussion about behaviour. Sometimes you have to sit and listen and then reflect on it. Part of the reason we have so many issues is that his way of coping is willful ignorance. I can’t count of my fingers and toes that amount of times I’ve said, ‘When you do A, I feel this way’ and his response being, ‘Not only do I not do A, but if I did, you would be wrong for feeling that way.’
After the phone call, I spoke to my other two siblings about it. My sister said something very interesting about my brother. She said that he doesn’t see outside of himself, and the standards he holds for other people are double standards and hypocritical when he applies them to us. I wholeheartedly agree.
So the question is, why?
My brother suffered like my siblings, and I did. He also was sick as a child. He carries different trauma to what we do. However, I have never held that against him and have always encouraged him to seek professional help.
He doesn’t think that there is anything wrong or that he needs help.
Even though I can see outside of him that he absolutely wrong, it is also not my place to harass him into getting help. The more I talk to him about it, the more he refuses to talk about it.
He is a grown adult and wholly responsible for taking action and advice about his mental health.
Which means that I am left needing to set boundaries. It is very clear that my brother has no interest in growing and getting better. Just as it is clear that I will not step backwards in my mental health for anyone.
I have to decide how much I want him in my life. Just because he is going through things he refuses to acknowledge doesn’t mean that he gets to treat me or anyone else in my family awfully. And, just because he is my brother doesn’t mean I have to accept him as he is.
A layer to family, and who you choose to be your family, is total acceptance. As you are. But, there are also things that are unacceptable in moral and ethical senses. There are some things that can’t be forgiven. Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
My brother likes to play neutral with everyone else, but not with his own family. The most hurtful is that he is neutral with the people who hurt my parents, especially my father. I understand that he does that because it is easier to ignore the trauma we grew up with rather than deal with it. Therefore, I do not have to choose him over my mental health.
So while it might suck that I miss out on celebrating with him, it is not selfish.
It is necessary.
You don’t have to agree with everything people say or do. But I think you should always acknowledge when someone says the way you act hurts me. Especially being family.
With that being said, there is a scheduled family discussion coming up, so hopefully, there is a good resolution to come from that. I will make the effort that there is. And if we can’t come to an agreement, then I will assess boundaries again.
Day by day, that’s the only way to go.
Here are the funny TikTok’s:
Tea of the day – Raw Ginger
Stay safe, be kind, and feel free to reach out below!
With love and eternal optimism,