My resignation has been a long time coming. I know it will be easy to forget and fall back into my old role, but I just can’t do it anymore. It’s not my job, and it never has been. I need to get healthy, and stay healthy for the family that I am raising now.
I have so many reasons, more than anyone would have the patience to read. But, here are the most important ones:
Their Secrets Become my Burdens
I can no longer bear the weight of my family’s secrets. While I honor the fact that I was chosen to be the sole bearer of such intimacies, their secrets have become my painful burdens. As the receiver of a secret, I am not able to do anything with it except keep it. I am stuck, holding it at arm’s length, hoping to be able to keep it far away from my heart and my everyday thoughts. IT COMPLICATES BOUNDARIES
When I try to solve my families’ problems, I put myself in a precarious position. First of all, it encourages too much and inappropriate information to be shared. Secondly, it shifts my role away from being a daughter or a sibling, into a more peer-like or therapist-like role. Sometimes I’ve been successful at separating those roles in the moment, but what is shared typically comes back to haunt me afterwards. I often wish I could “unlearn” certain details about the person or even about my own history that I just didn’t need to know.
It Fosters Selfishness
Don’t get me wrong, I signed up for this role in the first place (or maybe I was brought up to take this role?). I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember. But acting like the family therapist puts me in a position where I am always the helper and the other person is the helped. Which leads to a very one directional relationship, a selfish relationship. I need more than that from a family bond: a two-way relationship of mutual sharing, respectful boundaries, and support.
I’m Caught in the Middle
Being in this position often puts me in the middle between people that I love. This can be by secretly knowing the truth about how the parties really feel about one another. Or, by having to play the neutral party during a public disagreement. I am often stuck trying to deflect ploys to choose a side when I don’t really want to be a participant in the first place.
It Facilitates Gossip
My family loves to gossip. And honestly, I’ve enjoyed being in a position of knowing where most people stand. The problem is that I am becoming aware that if gossip is shared with me, it is also being shared with other members as well. And, of course, this undermines the ability to truly trust each other.
It’s Not Helpful
I can listen and I can give advice if the person is open to it. But other than that, I am not really in a position to help any member of my family change. Even if I were to be brutally honest with them about their behavior, it would most likely be taken as hurtful as opposed to helpful. Plus, I have enough on my own plate as I try to bring up my own children in a productive and healthy way.
It Gets in the Way of Our Relationships
Sometimes I just want to be a daughter or a sister. I don’t want to have to hear about all of the details all the time. It’s one thing to give a little advice here or there, or lend an ear when someone is going through a particularly hard time. But, when it comes to getting through a major mental breakdown or crisis, there are professional people who can help.
I am prepared to be more mindful in my interactions with my family going forward. I know it will take considerable awareness to recognize it happening in the moment and to try to change our style of interaction. I am finally ready to take a stand, teaching each person what kind of sharing I will tolerate. I will redefine my role with purpose, enforcing boundaries that are more appropriate for parent-child or sibling relationships.
What is your role within your family? Does it feel good to you? What would you change about your relationships?