What Can I Do About My Relationship with my Family?

Hello,
I found your site through Jenny Shih’s.  Although I don’t personally know either of you, I am a big fan of each of your gift’s.  I just got through reading your response to the woman with her daughter.  I listened to your song afterwards and it made me cry.
Here’s my situation: I had a 40th birthday mid July.  I have a younger sister (by 2 years) move back to live temporarily a block away with my parents a few months ago.  I live in my brother’s house. My sister & I weren’t close growing up, but in the last 11 years we’ve continued to get closer.  She’s on a spiritual path to become a shaman in South America and my brother is a regular construction guy that really doesn’t get me or my sister half the time. Bottom line, I’ve been having a hard time feeling connected to family and friends in my life lately. I’ve had a lot of change in this last year too. Relationship breakup, 15 yr bff “break up”, move my business to brother’s as well as myself. I feel connected to the universe, as I had an extreme experience with death that gave me a close relationship a few years ago. I try to be very mindful of how I speak to myself, others and how things feel in my body as I say things and what I eat in general.
So my sister texted me to ask what I had planned for my birthday a week before the date.  I thought about it and asked if she might be interested in planning something.  She was just getting back from a trip, so I said to think about it over the weekend and just let me know by Monday… I said I wanted her to do it ONLY if she felt inspired to.  This year, I didn’t feel great about planning anything big as I really wasn’t talking to many of my old friends.  I felt like I was still grieving 2 really important relationships. I did want to celebrate but didn’t want to plan something myself unless my sister didn’t want to.
So ultimately my sister said she wanted to do something for my birthday but then proceeded to tell me that she wondered if I would mind if it was celebrated on the day before or the morning of because she was feeling spiritually called to meet this woman for a vision board party.  I could tell she wanted me to be excited about it but I felt like I second best and not very special at all.  She berated me and said “see!! you do have preferences!” To me, it felt like she wanted to prove that I wouldn’t be able to let go of control and let someone plan something for me.(which I honestly would have been fine with anything but I just wanted it to be a surprise and planned for me) Anyway, she said that it’s obvious that she wasn’t the one to plan it and that was that. My birthday was good anyway, but obviously spending it with 2 girls I recently met was odd since my whole family lives one block away and up the stairs from me.
(Obviously there are issues of connection that go way back to childhood that I keep hoping will workout.)
So, I wasn’t expecting anything from my parents because I had asked if they might want to visit Colorado together for my birthday celebration.  The trip was scheduled for a few weeks after my birthday…
During those 2 weeks I went to a tarot card reader who told me some disturbing information.  She said that my sister and I would have a big fight and that there would be an emotional break. Something gut wrenching and emotionally tough.
I told her that we already had a big fight…she said that there will be another one but more so and that my brother and her will conspire together to work against me in some way. She also said during this time that I need to stay true to myself, hold strong, that I will find love within myself.
So I didn’t sleep that night much because it felt so true, but so surreal…but I calmed down eventually and took it with a grain of salt.  My brother did not go on the trip but my sister did.  We ended up having a good time and had a wonderful heart felt talk on the Colorado Trail.  We didn’t talk specifically about the bday fight but broad strokes about our career’s and our heart’s desire about them and how we wanted to be there for the other one.  I thought that the lady must have been wrong or that we had changed our destiny by talking things through.
Not so.  Tonight she came over and I helped her with getting some ideas on paper for her website.  She listened to me (which I’ve been desperately praying for someone to be a sounding board and a cheer leader to show up) talk about my fears surrounding my upcoming business changes and even shared some tears about my still tender heart surrounding my ex…
Then somehow we got on the subject of the fight around my bday. I told her that it hurt me deeply and that I felt second best, and that I wanted to know her thinking surrounding everything.
She said the she heard me but that she didn’t believe in saying sorry because it makes one person wrong and the other right.  She felt that I wanted her to heal something inside myself that she couldn’t.  I obviously wanted to understand and have a heart felt sorry.  Then she says that I am very ridged and it’s hard for people to be open with their hearts around me..and that I’ve always been controlling all of my life and that I should ask anyone and they would tell me.
Her eyes were piercing and so enraged. I said that I know I haven’t been a good sister growing up and I am sorry for anything that I’ve done to make her feel so angry.  She said that she is angry because she’s responding to the frustration I put on her regarding my brother. Ugh!–at that moment I remembered the tarot card reader say that lots of my cards were Higher Arcana and that means the circumstances are just fate.
How do I show up for myself, protect my heart, not over react and stay grounded?
Sorry this is so long and I would understand if you might not want to respond as this seems somewhat unusual.  (I want a good relationship with my family but my intuition says that my siblings can’t see me for who I really am right now)

Sisterly Love Gone Wrong

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Dearest Sisterly Love Gone Wrong,

Thanks for taking the time to reach out—know that you are not alone in your struggles with your family relationships and your willingness to share will bring great insight to other readers. I’m going to do my best to keep my response as short and sweet as possible—you’ve given me a lot to chew on, but responding point-by-point is not what I feel is needed right now.

With that said, one specific that I must respond to up front has to do with your reading from the Tarot card reader. I’m going to preface what I’m about to say with the fact that I’ve had some great readings in my day and as an Astrologer, am fully aware that there are some amazing healers out there who use a wide array of modalities to connect people to their truth, Tarot being one of them. But here’s the deal: YOU are 100% in the driver’s seat with regard to your relationships with your family, not fate. How you choose to perceive their actions, what you project onto them, how you choose to react—you create the stories that shape how those relationships will unfold. Will they “conspire” against you? Perhaps. But that sounds like classic, manipulative hooey from a “psychic” who’s using her gifts in questionable ways.  Instead of focusing on some fatalistic advice from someone who just met you about a future that you have yet to create—information that is  already causing you to painfully project that reality onto your family relationships—why don’t we shift your focus back to you, the only person whose actions you can actually affect in this situation (or ever, for that matter)?

On one level, I hear you saying that you want to have good relationships with members of your family, and I believe that there is truth to that. On an another level, I also hear that you bring a lot of expectations, a lot of “should’s” to those relationships. If you really look at what you are saying, it looks more like, “I can only love you and be in relationship with you if you love me the way I want you to love me.” You’re bringing all kinds of thoughts that are gunking up these relationships that are clearly of great value to you—thoughts of, “It’s your job to be there for me. It’s your job to understand me and accept me. It’s your job to love me. Family is supposed to put family first. I’m second best and not very special to you at all. Given that my family lives so close, they should be the ones to plan and celebrate my birthday with me, etc. ” And thanks to the Tarot card reader, you can throw in the thought, “My brother and sister are conspiring against me.” So many thoughts that are creating your suffering as your mind argues with reality.  Who do you become/how do you react/how do you treat them and yourself when you believe these thoughts? You create a pain-inducing filter through which all of their words and actions flow. Your mind looks for ways to prove that these thoughts are true and you create pain and suffering as your thoughts argue with what is. Who would you be without these thoughts? How would you be in relationship with your family if you weren’t attaching to these limiting beliefs that are untrue? (My guess is free…and full of love and acceptance for not only yourself, but your bro and sis, too.)

Yes, family relationships can be challenging as hell because we have more years with those people than with anyone else to create false stories that make them hell—stories we created as children with under-developed brains to try and make meaning of our experience. If we don’t stop to question those stories we live in a continual horror story of our own making. We become wounded victims who can only be healed if our family becomes who WE want them to be rather than who they are because—somehow in our minds, they are “supposed” to love us and be there in all of the ways that we want and need. Dear one, you have been so focused on having your family love and accept you for who you are and be there for you in the ways that you want them to be—which can actually only be YOUR job—that you are not noticing all of the ways that you are not loving and accepting, being there for them OR yourself.

I’m glad to hear that the words of my song touched you because they are good medicine for you hear, right now. “The truth is, we’re all trying to be good, and all of us just want to be understood. And when we seek the truth through another’s eyes, we realize that we are all the same…when we forgive ourselves and love despite our frailties, we are divine.” What if you came from the thought, “My brother and sister’s actions toward me come from a place of good intentions?” From that place you might see that despite not being able to relate to your spiritual journey or growth path (it’s not actually his job to understand you, it’s yours), your brother loves you so much that he is sharing his home with you. You might see that your sister was trying her best to honor all of her priorities around the time of your birthday. She wanted you to feel loved and she was also trying to honor herself. When you surrender your personal agenda, you also would be able to see that those two new friends that you got to hang out with were the perfect right people for you to spend your birthday with, not your sister. You enjoyed yourself. Perfect. As it should be. What a gift that your sister offered you by choosing not to plan your birthday for you—you got to spend it with people who were able to be fully present and wanting to celebrate with you.

As painful as it is, I invite you to listen to your sister with an open mind and heart. As my favorite spiritual teacher, Byron Katie, says, “Our parents, our children, our spouses, and our friends will continue to press every button we have, until we realize what it is that we don’t want to know about ourselves, yet. They will point us to our freedom every time.” In what ways is your sister communicating truth to you in what she is saying? I’m sure that she can be just as rigid and controlling as she is accusing you of, but changing her behavior is not your job—changing YOUR behavior IS. It only takes one person in a relationship to step back, to seek to understand, to see loving intentions and to choose to act from a place of love. It only takes one person in a relationship to transform it. Why not have it be you?

Whether or not you choose to mend these relationships is up to you—there is no “right” or “wrong” choice here. I just want to challenge you to notice how freeing it can be when you let these wonderful relationships transform you by choosing to do the hard work of listening and questioning your own mind—who’s been making you second best, who hasn’t been accepting and loving, who has been generating mistrust, who’s been conspiring behind the scenes? Every relationship in your life is a mirror for you to see your relationship with yourself and who you are being in the world—where you’re not trusting yourself or others, not advocating for yourself, not speaking your truth, not being a good cheerleader, not fully listening. There is freedom in these relationships with your family members and deep love, if you choose to allow those relationships to breathe as they really are.

I highly recommend any of Byron Katie’s work for you–I think you will find great insight there.

Much love to you,

:) Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

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