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My husband attended the memorial for his Uncle today. He encountered something I’ve encountered a great deal throughout my adult life.

His Aunt lectured him about ‘putting aside old hurts and reconciling with family members, because life is too short and family is too important.’

I’ve spent most of my adult life dealing with well-meaning people who were ignorant to the internal issues within our family pushing me to reconcile, trying to apply guilt and pressure to do what would make them feel more comfortable, rather than what would be the most healthy for me.

His Aunt fails to understand that it was not my husband, but the other members of his family, who excluded him, caused him to feel like the black sheep of their family. He tried several times to re-establish contact with them, only to be hurt and excluded once again.

It wasn’t until after numerous hurtful situations, directed at both himself and his family, that he made the decision to stop trying to work on a relationship, to focus on his own family.He established a ‘boundary’ and has been enforcing it.

No one is obligated to subject themselves to repeated abuse and hurtful treatment. No one should be made to feel guilty for not being willing to keep chasing after family members, begging to have a relationship with them and being rejected.

Why does it have to be a ‘grudge’ if you choose to protect yourself from emotional abuse? Why is it a ‘grudge’ if you decide enough is enough?

I believe other people have to see it as a ‘grudge’, as something angry and hateful, to minimize their own feelings of guilt and/or responsibility for the emotional trauma they’ve inflicted on others. If they can convince themselves that someone else is the one with the problem, or that the other party is being unfair or overreacting, they allow themselves to feel better about their role. Some folks aren’t that self-aware, in my opinion, and just think because you’re family there can be no consequences, particularly if it’s an older family member who has mistreated a younger member.

I don’t know exactly where my husband stands with this suggestion that he should subject himself to more family abuse, but I hope he’ll take the position he encouraged me to take, to take care of himself, to make his own emotional well-being his priority. To continue to enforce the boundary he established.

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