… to be honest. So here it goes.
I’m not a sharer. Let me explain before you get all “judgey”. I promise you’ll have plenty reason to judge in a few short moments.
When I love someone I can be quite possessive of that love. Doesn’t matter who you are. Sister, brother, friend. I truly have an issue with allowing other people to “infiltrate” my relationships and soak love and attention that should, quite frankly, be reserved for me. Selfish? Spoiled? Immature? Perhaps. But I’m being really honest here. I’m baring my soul. I. Don’t. Share.
It’s been a sticky point in many of my relationships both male and female. Friend and family. While my significant others adore my adoration, I’ve been told that I communicate the sentiment of betrayal when they aren’t able to assure me that “no one can take my place”. I don’t mean to communicate that. I really don’t. Hell … maybe I do. I just like things the way I like them and I like feeling special. The loves in my life make me feel that way. So when someone begins to take that attention or share in that special relationship that is supposed to be something reserved for me, I feel “some kind of way” about it.
Ok … even writing this I can see how bad this sounds. I’m really not a nutcase. I just love hard and I’ve lost enough love in my life that I hold tight – perhaps too tight – to those that are “mine”. Here’s a recent example:
My little brothers are dating now. It’s not abnormal. They are adult, handsome men so it’s understandable that they would reach this point in life that they’d want to get serious with a young lady. One brother promised his girlfriend that he would spend Christmas with her and her family this year since she spent Christmas with our family last year. Now … that sounds like a pretty reasonable agreement, right? But, I. Don’t. Like. It. At. All. I have spent EVERY Christmas with him for his entire life. Each and every one. And while my rational mind understands that it’s not possible to sustain that for the rest of all eternity, I don’t want to share my brother with this girl and her family. I just don’t want to, dammit! I want to see his face Christmas morning. I want us to play Monopoly and watch movies and drink way too much alcohol and laugh until we pass out. I want him to stay here with me. I want Christmas to be the way it always has been with the people I love. The fact that I have to share him with this girl is … just more than I can take. I’m trying to be an adult about it, but as you can see I’m failing miserably.
Now, let’s be clear. My brother’s girlfriend is a sweet young woman and other than the hopeless pitfalls that most young women make in relationships, she’s given few reasons to not share my brother’s affections with her. She’s been in his life for about five years. If I’m honest, I was terrible to her when he introduced her. She got “the stink face” for a good three and half (possibly four) years. Literally. She got slapped with snide comments and I made sure that every time she was around, she understood that she was and could always be an outsider. It was a “my brother loves me more than you and I love him more than you and you will never be able to step in and provide the level of love he needs to be the man he is to become” type vibe. I know, I know. I said I was being honest, you judgmental ass!! Sorry … I’m projecting. I take it back. I don’t want to fight. Let’s make up. Ok? Bygones.
And she took it like a champ. She hung in there. And finally, I began to soften. I thought, “Why not thaw out this ice in your heart and let her in? Why not give her a chance. You might actually like her. She might actually be cool.” And she is/was cool … until she asked for something that I wasn’t prepared to give: my family holiday. At that point she plopped back into position one (i.e. stink face mode). Did she deserve that? Absolutely not! But, I’m selfish. I feel like she’s taking something that’s been mine for all of these years and I don’t know how to let go a little for fear that things will never be the same. I’m afraid that this holiday is the beginning of many in which a girlfriend, quite possibly a one-day wife, takes my brother away to build new traditions with her family. My heart can’t take that. And though I don’t hate her, I communicate animosity to manipulate the situation to my desire because I know my brother adores me. He would do anything to make me happy. He would do anything to please me.
Ok. Now it’s out there. So … how do I grow? How do I convince myself that saying goodbye for one holiday doesn’t mean saying goodbye to the special bond that I have with my brother? How do I have peace that even if one holiday turns into two or three, that the holidays we had were special and I should be proud of a man he is and respect the choices he’s making?
I grow up and choose it. Plain and simple.
Each year on Christmas one of our big and most important family traditions is that we give “gifts of love”. There was a time when we didn’t have much money and couldn’t afford to purchase any gifts at all so my Mother would make us prepare a gift of the heart to share with the family. The point is to remind us of the real reason of the season. It’s not about the gifts. At least not gifts you can purchase. It’s about the greatest gift that was given long ago: Christ. So, we would sing songs to each other, make up silly games that would include clues of love or we would simply write letters expressing how grateful we are to have each other. It’s a tradition we continue even though we can now afford other gifts. And even though we kids give my Mother grief about it, we all secretly cherish that we still do it
Last year, I wrote each and every family member a personal note. I wanted them to know what their love means to me, how it has helped me grow and how it sustains me when the world chews me up and spits me out. Because she attended, I included my brother’s girlfriend because I wanted her to know that I’d finally accepted her. Here was my note to her:
I learned a BIG lesson this year and it was thanks in part to a tough situation shared by a friend. Her mother-in-law is giving her and her husband HELL because she refuses to accept that she is no longer number one in his life. Her actions are so ridiculous and more importantly extremely hurtful to her son. As I was counseling my friend on handling her mother-in-law and supporting her husband it hit me … her mother-in-law’s actions were not very different than my own when my brother brought you into the family. For that, I am extremely sorry. I think you are a great person and I happen to love your family very much. We would be lucky to have you, if you marry my brother. I promise you from this moment forward to do my very best to supply you with the respect you are due. You are his choice, which makes you mine as well. I love you.
I share that because recently I was given the opportunity to honor those words and I made a hard reverse. I fell into old patterns and decided I didn’t want to give those things to her. Her audacity to take him from me on Christmas angered me and I decided she was going to pay for that choice. So I shamed her in front of our entire family to “put her in her place”. Why? Because I don’t like to share those I love. It’s uncomfortable. It’s scary. And dammit, I just don’t like the way it feels. Doesn’t make it right, and it certainly isn’t mature, but it is the God’s honest truth.
So … this Christmas … exactly one year later, I vow to make it right. I vow to choose differently. I’m going to grow up a bit and stop acting like there’s not enough love in his heart to share with us both. I had a small hand in raising him and the same access to the valuable teachings he’s been given from our Mother so I know without a doubt that he’s mature enough to be a loving man in his relationship and still be my “Little Brown Bear”. Not only will I make this change with him, but in all of my relationships. I need those I love to know that they don’t have anything to prove to me. Their love is gift enough. No need to constantly reassure me that the love will never leave. I will trust that love. I will nurture that love and I will do my best to never again compromise that love.
This season, I pray that you are able to take a moment away from the holiday fanfare, the gifts, all of the good food and drinks to reflect on the things in your life you could do better. After all … Christ died so that we could all live free. Don’t be bound to old harmful habits, thoughts or deeds that leave you living in an existence that’s less than you deserve. Do something different. Be different. Choose differently. Do the uncomfortable thing and take the chance to grow. Who knows? You might just end up happy.
Happy Holidays to you and yours. I wish you love, peace and all of the happiness your heart and hands can hold.
All the best, AskThePRGirl