rcasa

RCASA’s Tuesdays with Traci: Family Buttons

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on January 19, 2010 at 10:27 am

I was thirty five years old the first time I spoke up to my mother and refused to buy into her games and manipulation. I was frightened to stand up to her and almost couldn’t believe I was doing this. I found that I didn’t have to be mean and didn’t have to start an argument. But I could say what I wanted and needed to say in order to take care of myself. I learned that I could love and honor myself, and still care about my mother– the way I wanted to— not the way she wanted me to.

                                                                                                                                 — Anonymous

Who knows better how to push our buttons than family members? Who, besides family members, do we give such power?

No matter how practiced we are at owning our own personal power, at setting healthy boundaries– at telling our truthrelationships with family members can be be difficult to navigate at best.

One telephone conversation can put us in an emotional and psychological tailspin that lasts for hours or days.

Sometimes, it gets worse as we become healthier because we become even more aware of our reactions and our discomfort. That’s uncomfortable, but good. It is by beginning this process of awareness and acceptance that we change, grow, and heal.

The process of detaching from family members can take years. Many of us have been very hurt by family members. Many of us have felt betrayed. The process of learning how to react in a more effective way also takes time and practice. We can not control what family members do or try to do, but we can gain some sense of control over how we choose to react.

Stop trying to make them act or treat you any differently. Instead, unhook from their system by refusing to try to change or influence them.

Their patterns, particularly their patterns with us, are their issues– not ours.  How we take care of ourselves is our issue. We can refuse to buy into their issues; we can refuse their efforts to manipulate, control, or produce guilt in us. We can decide what place we will or will not allow them to occupy in our lives.

We can take care of ourselves with family members without feeling guilty. We can learn to be assertive with family members. We can set boundaries. We can take care of ourselves.

We can even learn to love family members without forfeiting love and respect for ourselves. Today you are free to do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

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