It’s Time to Forgive the Absentee Person in Your Life
One thing many of us can bond on is having someone in our lives who did not do their part. Whether it was by choice, force, or other circumstances. It alters us as people. As much as we try to say that it doesn’t effect us or “we don’t care”, it does change us. I’m saying we because I’ve experienced this.
I have an older sister who was not in my life due to substance abuse. I mentioned her in my “Forgiveness” post. Click here if you haven’t read it: https://www.writefullysobrittany.com/home/2018/12/14/forgiveness
When I was a child, I remember having to visit my sister in jail. I remember her crying during the visits. I remember her writing me letters while in jail and making so many promises to me. I remember noticing when she favored me and we looked sisters versus when she was unrecognizable. This was so awkward for me as a child. I hated being disappointed. I wanted that sister bond so bad and it never happened.
As most children do, I started to get use to her inconsistencies as I got older. I started to get use to her not being around. Instead of being sad and disappointed, I was angered at hearing her name. My dad stressed about her and that use to pissed me off. My feelings turned to anger during my teenage years. Once I went off to college, I really didn’t give her a second thought. During my sophomore year of college, she was sober for an extensive period of time and somewhat developed a relationship. However, I kept her at a distance because I didn’t trust her to stick around. As the cycle would have it, she relapsed and we were back to square one.
I always and (still do) tell people that I am an only child because that’s how I grew up. I allegedly have a few siblings, eh who knows lol. Any siblings I have are half siblings. I said that to say, one of the reasons why I used to tell people I was only child is because I wanted to block my sister out of my mind. I kept the hurt of that relationship tucked away in a compartment of “fragile items”. I don’t talk about her in detail. I only talked about her to those who I’m closest too.
What I did not realize before is how much her being absent from my life caused me to have issues within my friendships with other females. Here are a few ways that I’ve realized that our broken relationship effected me;
1.)I used to be that friend that needed validation. It wasn’t good enough for people to just be my friend. I needed to know, told, and shown that I was appreciated. I feel like that came from not feeling appreciated by my sister or not feeling like I was important.
2.)I hated, HATED when people left me hanging. Like disappearing without notice or making me feel like I wasn’t important.
3.)I put people on a pedestal when I shouldn’t have. I wanted every female friend to be my “best friend”. I wanted that title and if it wasn’t there, then I was going to make it happen. Because I never had that sister bond, I was looking for it. I wanted it and was going to try to figure out how to get it.
4.)In addition to the previous point, I constantly questioned my role in people’s lives. If I wasn’t the best friend, then what was I? Like if you could literally “rank” your friends, I wanted to know where I fell on the scale. I think I felt like this because one of the people who I felt should have made me a priority, didn’t. My sister.
Honestly, I just recently made these realizations. I had no idea I had these traits or the fact that I was letting my pain impact me so much.
Unresolved issues will continuously show up, remember that.
But since forgiving her, my whole outlook on people has changed, especially my friendships. Now that I’m in a different place in life, I have learned that people’s actions towards me are not always about me. But before, I took everything personal without considering other factors. I have significantly dropped my expectations of what other people should be doing. I can’t even say “that’s a given” or “some things are standard.” Honestly, it’s not. No two people have the same perception of what friendship is. People may disagree with that, but perception is everything. No matter how similar to people are or how long they’ve known each other, life and situations change people, their responses, and alters their actions. It’s like an intimate relationship, along with the good comes the bad.
I also match energies. Instead of trying to prove myself to people or go above and beyond to make contact. I am more accepting of my place in people’s lives. If we talk all the time, great… if we don’t great lol. If I know you’re not my reliable friend, that’s okay too. Instead of me focusing on that and what’s wrong, I now focus on people’s strengths and their role in my life.
But I would have NEVER got to this place had I not forgiven my sister. I carried so much baggage around from that and didn’t even know it. What I thought I was hiding was showing up in my friendships and made me insecure. It made me hold on to people that needed to be let go and question people who were solid. It also gave me peace with those people who walked out of my life. The little girl inside of me was hurt and I was being hurt every time a friendship brought out my insecurity. My younger self was screaming for fantasy that I put together of what sisterhood was. Most children do this when they go without, but at some point we all have to face reality. I also have to have compassion for my sister as I do not know every single situation that lead her down this path. I know she didn’t wake up one day and say, “If I have a sibling, I won’t be in their life.” I now know that she did the best she could and that maybe she felt it was best to keep herself at a distance to deal with her own demons.
While forgiveness may seem difficult, it can be achieved. Forgiving that absentee parent, sibling, family member, or friend is like having a weight lifted off of you. I was able to do this in therapy, but you may be able to do it on your own.
Things to think about:
-Take the time to think about what good is it doing you to hold on to this baggage.
-How has this broken relationship effected your relationships with other people?
-What factors contributed to this person being absent?
I hope this helps someone move forward.
And remember, forgiveness does not mean that you have to mend the relationship. It just means that you are freeing yourself!