Actually Accepting the Seemingly Unacceptable

You know it’s going to be interesting when your counsellor starts the sentence with “the therapist in me hates to say this, but…”

Last week, we had a quick cancellation appointment appointment after I asked for help.  In that appointment I just kind of downloaded all the crap that seemed to take over (i.e. brother-in-law who completely lacked compassion and adoption frustrations).

While, this week we had our regularly scheduled appointment where we really talked about our families and our efforts to have open and honest relationships with them.  You know, real relationships that matter.  Between her, Mr. MPB and I, we had an interesting conversation, and it all started when she said the therapist in me hates to say this, but it really is time for you to start building an armor around you to protect you from your family. I’m paraphrasing now, but essentially, the discuss was about rather then giving my family the ability to slam the door in my face, I need to start closing the door to protect me and building myself a little suite of armor to be able to withstand their seemingly endless supply of insensitivity.  I do not need to slam it shut, but I do need to accept that the relationship is what it is, and I cannot change them.

We talked about the recent and most obvious example of Mr. MPB’s brother.  We opened up to him and his wife about our losses.  We shared everything.  In turn, they shared nothing and were rather hurtful in the way they told us their news.  We opened ourselves up, we wanted a better relationship, and instead we are left feeling alone and hurt, as if all our words and tears fell on closed eyes and ears.  We are hurt by their insensitivity, but more so we are hurt because we feel like they never actually listed to us.

We also discussed a much more complicated example – the relationship between my Dad and I and the very clear difference of what I want it to be and what it actually is.  She noted that one of my biggest struggles with this relationship is that I keep trying and hoping to have the father I had for the first 14 years of my life – the one I remember and clearly long for.  The one who loved and adored me and my siblings and would do anything for us. So, for years I’ve kept making excuses for him, hoping that that version of him will return.  And at the same time I’ve kept letting his insensitivity hurt me – each time he has driven through our city and doesn’t stop to visit, or each time he chooses to spend time with another sibling over me, etc.  And, with that, for years, I have continued to relieve the grief of losing not just my mom and sister, but also my very family, including the father that I admired.  I have held onto the idea that maybe he’ll change, because he changed once, so maybe he’ll change again back into the Dad that I remember.  But clearly that isn’t happening and whenever I expect that it will, I’m just left hurting.  (And it’s only taken me 17 years to start figuring this out).

But here’s the thing, as much as I’m struggling to actually do it, I realize that need to start doing it for myself, my marriage and our future children. We even discussed a few practical ideas on what we will discuss when we see our family in order to maintain safe conversations: other family members lives and news, world news, the price of oil, the weather, etc.  The focus of the conversation will not be on the details of our lives.  I will not try to get them to take an interest, as they tend not to ask (like most people, they do not bring up our miscarriages or ask about real adoption information – people don’t know what to say and don’t realize saying nothing at all is the absolute worst).  Maybe one day they will express an interest, maybe they wont, but either way it’s off limits right now to protect my heart from being let down and hurt again.

Honestly, part of me is really sad – is it really acceptable to accept that our families continually let us down?  Something about that feels wrong.  Really, shouldn’t our families want to do better and want to have meaningful relationships with us?  By building an armor and closing the door before my family slams it in my face, part of me feels like I’m giving up.  And I’m afraid of the potential consequences – if I stop calling and visiting as much, what if my Dad doesn’t make more of an effort, does that mean we will never see each other?  If we don’t put aside our hurt with Mr. MPB’s brother and just move on, what will our relationship with them look like in 5 years?  So, all of this has me feeling rather sad, depressed and scared that this is our reality.  Yet, I know it’s a necessity, and I know this helps put us on the right path forward.

But, I have to add that this is only part of our path forward. The other part is focusing our efforts on the relationships in our lives that do matter.  Such as our friends that give back to us in a meaningful way deserve more of our love and compassion.  And, we also have the opportunity to build new relationships, particularly in our local adoption community.  We need and want to focus on building and creating our chosen family that is understanding and supportive of our all our lives experiences, the good and the not so good.

I realize now I’ve just written another version of the letter to my family that I wrote last week.  Ops.  If you made it this far, I commend you.

But, there is one big noteworthy difference between last week and today:  I think with some effort I’m actually going to be able to accept these relationships for what they are and in turn maybe be just a little bit happier in my own life.  Today I feel more at peace with this path forward.

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58 Comments on “Actually Accepting the Seemingly Unacceptable

  1. I’m so glad you see the importance of accepting these relationships for what they are. That was the hardest part for me and I am still struggling with it. You will find peace and probably a sense of pride/superpower if you will, every time you gently shut that door right before their “hurt” heads your way! Once you get used to doing that, it actually feels pretty good. And your future children will benefit from this new inner power of yours in sooooo many ways! You are laying the foundation for a wonderful home environment for you, Mr. MBP and your future kiddos! Way to go girl! xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Knowing that you too have done this gives me such encouragement that I can do it too! Thank you so much for sharing. And, you are right, by doing this we are laying the foundation for a wonderful home environment for ourselves and our children. Thank you again!!

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      • No problem at all my friend. It isn’t easy but it’s so very worth it! Be prepared: Your loved ones are going to fight this process all the way. You got this! Keep us updated on your progress!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Truthfully, I’m a little afraid they wont fight it, because they wont even notice. But, only time will tell and I cannot continue on our current path because I’m afraid of the outcome. So, I’ll go forward one day at a time.

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      • That’s all you can do, one day at a time. And if there are people who don’t notice you can remind yourself that those people are the reason you are setting these boundaries in the first place. Better to find out sooner than later who truly cares!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I lost my *family* when I lost my Mom 5 years ago. I’ve been hurt by the indifference of my aunts/uncles/cousins/family friends and most especially my father (whom, thanks to therapy, I have severed ties with this past year). Luckily I still have my (obnoxious but loveable) sister, and I’m so sorry that you don’t have yours.
    Instead of trying to change these relationships (when these people couldn’t care less) I’ve worked on accepting the way things are and letting go. It still hurts–there are tough days where I’m very angry with my father–but it doesn’t hurt as much as allowing myself to be mistreated does. What hurts is that once I let go, my father blamed me (took no responsibility) and has not even tried to reach out. That is the part that hurts. But my therapist has assured me that I’ve done nothing to deserve this. It’s him, not me. And he’s not going to change.
    And so I’ll say to you: You don’t deserve this. You’ve done nothing wrong. He’s not going to change. So you have to set your boundaries. And he may just walk away. And it’s painful. But you are loved ❤
    XOXO

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    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m sorry that you know what I’m talking about so well, but I am thankful you understand. And I am beyond thankful for your compassionate words “You don’t deserve this. You’ve done nothing wrong. He’s not going to change. So you have to set your boundaries. And he may just walk away. And it’s painful. But you are loved.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can completely understand why you’re feeling sad about this. I felt sad for you when I read it. This is such a strong, healthy decision, though, so I think in the end the benefits will outweigh any sadness you may have. I wish that you didn’t have to accept the unacceptable, but I’m glad you’re making this brave choice. Xo.

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    • Thank you so much for your never ending encouragement. You are right, it’s sad, but in the long run it will be best for me, Mr. MPB and our children. And at the end of the day, I need to focus on creating a loving and respectful environment for our family.

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  4. You’re doing some really tough work, lady. I imagine the early loss you suffered makes this very hard work even more of a challenge. I’m impressed at how you keep at it. It’s so easy to stay entrenched in old ways even when they no longer serve you. Love your plan to focus more on the new relationships in your life. Isn’t choosing your family the best? My recovery family and my fertility family are priceless to me. 🙂

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    • Thanks Elizabeth, your encouragement means the world to me. Some days I wonder if I would ever have started doing this work if it weren’t for our losses? I don’t have the answer, but I do know going through the last few years has really made me face my past and re-evaluate many of the people and relationships I have in my life.
      I love your perspective about your recovery family and fertility family – they really are priceless!!

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  5. Oh, I am so sorry for the loss of your family as you knew it. I do hope the universe provides you new, loving, supportive connections in the months and years to come. It is so admirable that you are both doing this kind of work in preparation for your family.

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  6. I wish sometimes that my mom didn’t read my blog, so I could convey some of our current relationship issues. Our families are shockingly similar in their lack of concern and compassion. I know my husband and I also need to build our armour – like you and your husband will to protect yourselves and your baby on the way. Once you get over the shock of the disappointment, things slowly start getting smoother. One day, one step, one relationship at a time.

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    • Thank you for sharing your understanding, it always helps to know I am not alone in all of this stuff.
      “One day, one step, one relationship at a time.” Such a wonderful approach, and one I will try very hard to focus on.

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  7. A wise friend of mine told me recently, “Most people really are doing the best they can.” Recognizing the truth of this has taken me several steps further along the road toward forgiving my husband’s kids and certain of his friends for their indifference and, occasionally, unkindness toward me. I do what I do in terms of maintaining relationships because I choose to do it – and I’m careful; I don’t set myself up for any rejection that I can’t handle (in other words, that I can’t forgive). It’s not always easy because I invested a lot of love, as well as time and energy, into the early stages of our relationships, and their subsequent rejection has been at times excruciating. But I have reached the stage where I can truly say, “It is what it is, and they are what they are, and all I can do about that is be who I am.” I hope you are able to reach a similar place of peace and acceptance – and that you find loving friends to fill the gaps that careless family members have left untended.

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    • Your friend is very wise, and her words are words worth remembering. And I think as much as I’m focusing on what I need to do to protect myself, I also have to give credit to those in our family who are likely trying to the best of their ability, even if their efforts fall short of our needs and desires.
      And, I cannot wait for the day that I too can say “It is what it is, and they are what they are, and all I can do about that is be who I am.”

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It is so hard to have to accept realities like this. So hard but so important to protecting yourself. I have had to close the emotional connection to family and it is so hard at first but then I found it freeing and the relationship so much better when I no longer needed anything from it. Thinking if you. Xo

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  9. I feel like this has been a common conversation in my own personal life as of late. And you have expressed it really well. I’m so hoping that as you reestablish boundaries you gain “family” through other meaningful relationships that are healthy and supportive, many hugs friend. XOXO

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think we should start a separate support group: Infertile with Family Issues. Because everything you’ve said resonates with me and so many others (from the comments, I see.)

    I’m going to parrot what mamajo23 said for a sec… The hardest part is realizing that these people who you want to be there for you can’t be. They don’t know how, and they don’t want to learn how either. It almost hurts more than the daily slights. But I’ve also found something incredibly freeing about letting go of expectations and setting boundaries with my own family. Now when they act like idiots, I realize that their hurtful behavior is a reflection of them, not of me.

    It’s a hard road, but you’ll figure it out. Stay strong, my friend.

    Like

    • I think an infertile with family issues support group sounds like a wonderful idea!! 🙂
      I really like your observation that the hurt that they don’t know how and they don’t seem to want to learn how is actually worse then the regular stuff. I think you are spot on with this.
      I also think you and mamajo23 make such a great point about feeling free once you let go – that’s exactly what I’m hoping and searching for, and it’s nice to know that you have achieved that!! You give me hope that I can do it too!

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  11. I’m glad that you seem to be dealing a bit better with this than in your last post. I’m sorry that you’re having to make thus decision though. I hope though that building yourself an armor will help you to live a happy life. And being strong for yourself will teach your future kids some great lessons. I wish you luck with your armor building!

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  12. I struggle with a lot of the same things as you in this regard, so I know how hard it must be to want that family support, yet not have people meet you any part of the way. It is really lonely and disappointing, until you just do what you do, and accept it for what it is. Reframe your expectations of them, and of yourself towards them, and redirect your efforts on you and Mr. MPB. That’s all you can really do. I struggle so much with this, and I think that trying to build our families right now makes it even harder. Sending you love and peace for the spaces that feel empty right now.

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    • thank you so much for understanding and for sharing your struggle and your hard learned suggestions. I like you idea of re-framing my expectations of them, but also of myself. I don’t think it’s fair to just change my expectations of our family, I have to also accept a different level of effort on my own behalf. And I know you are right about redirecting my efforts on Mr. MPB and I, and our future children – this really is the best way to a happy future.
      I hope that all your hard work is making way for more love and peace in your life and heart.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know it is so hard, but you two are finding your way through it. And once you have your child(ren), and complete your family, they will be what matters most to you.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I think the therapist suggestion of building armor are words to live by in general. I don’t mean to be guarded but if you put yourself out there to anyone you have to be okay within yourself with any response they may or may not give. Boundary setting needs to be there for this fertility and pregnancy loss journey because it’s just so raw and the truth is I’ve not had the best reactions either (but they’ve not been particularly bad either, more I would have said/done something different). I think because of the existing family issues it cuts more. I’m lucky that I can talk to my folks quite openly about it but we don’t discuss it with other family members because their reactions aren’t what I need, does that make sense? I guess, only share you with the people that will appreciate it and be respectful. Blood or no blood.

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    • You are so right about boundaries being particularly important during the Infertility/baby loss journey – everything is more raw and so many people don’t understand it. It becomes a bit of a need to try to surround ourselves with those who are supportive and loving.
      I know for us, those who have been open and willing to talk to us about it and support us through it all mean the world to us, and so I’m thrilled for you that your folks are those people for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Great post. I understand the fear of loss. I also think you will have a lot more peace about those relationships when the walls and boundaries are better defined. There’s a lot less “should” and so the angst kind of disappears.

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  15. I went through this a bit with my dad’s family. Over the years, I’ve just stopped trying because they ALWAYS let me down. Your therapist is right. At some point, you have to stop giving them chances and start looking out for yourself. I’ve reached the point now where I enjoy our holidays together and I enjoy the occasional banter with cousins or aunts on Facebook, but I leave it at that. I ask for nothing of them, and they expect nothing from me. It’s surprisingly refreshing, but it’s certainly not an overnight transformation. Hang in there. Your head is in the right place.

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    • Thank you so much for sharing this piece of your journey and for sharing how it effects you today now that you’ve actually set the boundaries. You have given me so much hope that I too can do this and feel good about it eventually too. I also appreciate that you acknowledge that it was not an overnight transformation – one day at a time, and eventually I’ll get there.

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  16. I agree with your therapist that you shouldn’t give your family members or even friends opportunities/chances to let you down. I know this is hard to do because a part of you probably wants to keep them in your life and tell them things…invite them to events…etc. But you have to protect yourself. I don’t experience this as much as you do, but I have had to distance myself from my husbands family. They forget to call on birthdays, send cards, never visit, etc. but I have been able to protect myself from being hurt from them because I just don’t expect them to do those things anymore. And I no longer get upset that they haven’t visited us since we moved to Illinois (going on five years). It used to bother me that they visit his brother in Texas several times a year, but I have just learned to accept it. I used to think in my head of all the reasons they don’t visit us and it only caused me tears and heartache. So I just accept it for what it is. And I hate to say it, but it’s just become the norm. And I have realized that some people can’t give what they don’t have. I think this entire message is all jumbled and rambled, but I have a four year old talking about horses, cats, and bird cages in the background and a hubby asking me how to cook the mexican rice. lol! Love you girl!

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    • I love what you shared, and I deeply appreciate that you took the time to share with me, while goldilocks was playing and hubby was asking how to cook mexican rice! It means the world to me that you take time out of your busy life to share your perspective and your heart with me. You truly are an inspiration.
      P.S. how do you cook mexican rice?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I think he thought he would have to take a trip to Mexico for it, but it comes in a box or packet. You just cook it over the stove. But he was clueless that the box was in the pantry. I thought he knew…hehe

        Liked by 1 person

  17. “Is it really acceptable to accept that our families continually let us down? Something about that feels wrong.”

    Yeah. In fact I think it’s hard for us to realize that we put them up on these pedestals and when they fall; they fall hard. Heck, I wrote about my drama with my mom for months and when I finally stopped writing about it, nothing changed. The drama continued and finally months later after she threatened something so utterly absurd, I realized that there was no way we would ever be what we used to be. Our relationship, such that it is, was forever changed and largely broken. I built that armor, practiced a serious resting b!tch face, slow blink finished with a head nod and deep breath. And I’m much better for it. I still mourn, but taking control of my exposure and expectations (having none in terms of support) helped. You and Mr. MPB will be ok. It’s good to focus on those folks who bring you support and light. All the best!

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    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience – I take so much comfort in knowing I am not alone in this, and I take even more comfort knowing that you have built you armor and are living much better for it now even if you still are mourning.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m sorry this is so hard on you. I hope you are able to do what you have to do to take care of yourself and that you find some peace. I can’t imagine how you feel not having their unconditional and unwavering support. Sending you lots of love!

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  19. I love this post (even though it is painful) and how you are taking good care of yourself. Please know you are definitely not alone in having to evaluate some of your relationships and make tough decisions about them. Many hugs to you!

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  20. This is so, so hard to consistently put into practice. I have a therapist who will occasionally preface hard truths to explore with, “You’re going to hate me for this” or “This is going to be hard to hear” or “I wouldn’t be doing you justice as your counsellor if I didn’t push you on this” — and my insides always constrict when I hear those words. Usually I know what’s coming, as you probably did to some extent. I think maybe the armor isn’t a complete shutting out of your family, but just a protective mechanism for you to protect yourself from your own expectations of the family you wish you had versus the one you’ve got. I can completely relate to this, in what sounds like so many ways from your details above. My family is a work in progress but I find myself never surprised but always disappointed in behaviors and reactions that occur from my immediate family members. My husband, my best friend, and my therapist have all said that I need to figure out ways to manage this because I get upset about the same things all the time but those patterns just aren’t going to change. I have to accept them.

    I loved this: “I think with some effort I’m actually going to be able to accept these relationships for what they are and in turn maybe be just a little bit happier in my own life.” You cannot change other people–the way they react, the way they relate (or don’t), they way they parent or remember their parenting in retrospect (creatively). But you can change how you deal with those disappointments and not let it eat you up. It is hard, so hard, and I struggle with this all the time. Especially when things aren’t 100% awful, when there are glimpses of normalcy that shine through (but then that makes it worse when things go back to the craziness that is my family in its natural state). I wish you so much peace as you wrestle with how to cope and accept your family for who they are and what they can be while protecting your fragile heart. Especially at this time of building your own family and figuring out how that will all look and how you can protect your precious little one from the same hurts you have received over the years. Peace and love to you! (And congratulations on snagging what sounds like an amazing therapist!)

    Like

    • It sounds like you too have an amazing counsellor! I definitely count this as one of our most important reasons we have made it through all of this!
      I wish you the best in learning to manage your family, and learning to manage your expectations versus reality – it’s going to be a long hard road for both of us to actually do it, but I think it will be well worth it in the end! And it helps that we both our have our husbands and friends cheering us along.
      Peace and love to you as well!

      Like

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