Monday Notes: It Is What It Is

I was going to tell you the greatest thing about my brother and sister-in-law, until I realized…I don’t know. The truth is I cannot.

That’s what happens when you don’t take the time to get to know someone. That’s also what occurs when you’ve allowed what you perceive to be a person’s flaws to dominate your interactions.

I have to admit that’s happened here.

Between 1993-1996, I was so busy trying to get my brother-in-law to see that I was a ‘good’ person and worthy to be his brother’s wife, that I didn’t just stop and communicate in an authentic way, a way where I’m listening to and understanding him and his point of view. I was in a space of proving.

Once I realized attempts at demonstrating my worth were futile, I entered another mode. Today, you’d call it IDGAF. Twenty years ago, I suppose I just distanced and detached myself from the entire situation. By 1999, he had a wife. But I didn’t give a f*ck. And I certainly wasn’t going to treat her better than I’d been treated.

Over the years, I fluctuated between proving myself and not caring at all. I’d show interest by purchasing Christmas gifts for their one, two, and eventually four children. After all, Dwight and I are their aunt and uncle. The strain in my brother-in-law’s voice when he’d say, thank you, sounded like a child’s forced greeting. So, I returned to a lack of care. Who cares? This isn’t going to change anyway, I convinced myself.

I was right. Partially.

In 2015, my sister-in-law and I agreed to read books together. We both enjoy reading, so it seemed a great way to bond. It wasn’t. We don’t even like the same genre. Her answers to our first book, A Terry McMillan one I chose, were terse. My answers to her selection, The Book of Negroes, were filled with insecurity and arrogance. I didn’t want to sound like a university professor analyzing a book, and I also loathe historical fiction. Turns out we didn’t need to read together.

Later that year when my father died, I took score. Who called? Who didn’t call? Who sent something? Who didn’t? In essence, who seemed as if they cared? Aside from a sorry to hear that via Facebook, neither reached out. That was the proverbial straw. I mailed a letter telling them as such. I also let them know it was okay. It was clear they didn’t like me. And it was okay.

As of today, there are three years of unspoken words between us. However, I’ll be in their hometown in less than a week and plan to visit with my husband. Similar to times past, I’m in a different space. I understand we’re all human beings, with histories that shape how we interact or don’t interact with others. I care about what this visit will yield, but not because I’m trying to prove myself to anyone. I stopped that behavior a couple years ago. There’s little reason and like this relationship showed, it doesn’t work anyway.

In my new space, I’ll be fully present. I’ll engage in conversation without wanting to show my worth or to denigrate theirs. I’ll attempt to get to know both of them. Maybe this time next year I can feature them for the Greatest Thing About category, or maybe I will have finally learned what people mean when they say, “it is what it is.”

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59 thoughts on “Monday Notes: It Is What It Is

  1. After reading your two other posts about the visit this breaks my heart, You’ve obviously pondered the relationship with your BIL and his wife for some time and it seems like feelings aren’t reciprocated. How many times can one party be the one to make the first move or rather the right move? It doesn’t seem fair but there truly are situations where it is what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Stephanae! I absolutely have. I’m in a good place about the relationship now. I’ve learned so much from it. For example, not to continue to make first moves in ANY relationship. Listening to my intuition the first time is important. Everyone is definitely not for everybody lol and that’s totally okay ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. GIRL! This was deep and I don’t even know where to start! So I will save it for a serious conversation on a different platform…
    But…I can’t help commenting on The Book of Negroes…..
    Say whaaaa?
    I get it… I’m supposed to be serious but I can’t ! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. IDGAF spinoff. When I quit my job two years ago, got rid of all my stuff, and took off to hitchhike Europe, I heard many version of “that’s not done any more.” I quickly settled into the response of “I’m too old to give a shit (TOTGAS).” If I feel like hitchhiking somewhere tomorrow morning, I do it (hitchhiked 11 countries since turning 60). If something breaks down, I try to fix it but no worries one way or the other. TOTGAS. If someone doesn’t like me or agree with me, no problem, TOTGAS. This has actually helped me sometimes to be direct when need be (who cares if they don’t like it) but more often to handle those with attitude/opinion issues with more detachment/compassion. Why? Because I’m TOTGAS. May this work as well for you as it does for me 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We are apparently traveling the same path, kinda, dear Katherin. I reached out to my mother this year, after realizing breaking our pattern wasn’t about cutting her out of my life. Instead, I chose to be me. To not continue the path she and my grandmother walked for many years, a reoccurring circle of on-and-off contact. I’m always exhausted after spending time with her, because I HAVE to avoid certain topics to prevent another huge fight. But she is my mother, her truth is not mine, but I figured; that is all she knows. And at an age, she will not take on another truth.
    I also realized, I am not longer the same child and adult she did hurt over and over.
    Looking for solutions to make our time together ‘easier’ and possible, we go to the movies every now and than. Small talk before the movie starts, afterwards chit-chat about the movie. And hallelujah for social media; connected, but at a (for me) safe distance.
    Wishing you strength to be you on your trip. Cause how well intended on your part, it isn’t easy. I know 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kept thinking on this…Is it due to a inherited belief-system we try to keep reaching out, stay connected to family? Because we suppose to like/love each other? It’s ‘abnormal’ to say, I don’t like this family-member. Per example (talking about complex family relations lol ), I love my brother, but I just don’t like the person he is now.
      And what also keeps confusing me…how is it possible I can build warm friendships, but still can’t get along with some of my closest family-members. It is what it is? Yes. But frustrating at the same time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really think it’s something that society teaches us; we’re SUPPOSED to be connected to family NO MATTER WHAT. So, when we don’t like a family member, I’ve heard people say, “I love the person, but I don’t like them,” which I think is an interesting way to speak about people, in general. It’s like the LOVE part means, you still have to interact with them on some level.

        I honestly think friends know you better than family because it’s a mutual relationship with mutual levels of power. So, for example, my friends and I actually try to get to know one another and care about how the other feels. Family (sometimes) think they know you because they’ve grown up with you, but they’ve sometimes never really gotten to know you personally, not to mention a lot of times they’ve not realized that you’re not the same person at 40 as you were at 4 :-/

        As you can see, I’ve thought about this for a while lol

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hahaha, my mind has similar thoughts…Over the years I tried different ‘tactics’. I tell you, it is an ongoing process to figure out what works. Well, in my case it is lol

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Patty, I commend you for attempting to break the pattern. I think that’s important, and you, of course are only responsible for you. On some level though, I believe that if it takes soooo much to get along with some people, then maybe it’s best to leave that relationship alone. I don’t know. I tend to fluctuate in my thinking about it. Thanks for the well wishes though. I’ll be writing an update.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the greatest gift we can give anyone is to simply be present, open, and willing to accept them as they are. I also think it is incredibly mature of you to decide to give this gift to your brother-in-law and his family, given the history you describe. But I’m so glad you are doing that! It may start a new relationship with them, or it may not. Either way, you are doing the right thing, in my opinion. And setting a good example for the rest of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed Ann. Maybe chocolate. Chocolate is a good gift too lol Just kidding. I appreciate your comment. I’m trying…still. Thanks for your kind words. I’ll be sure to write an update on how things went.

      Like

  6. It sure is what it is…. There is a tribal song popular here in Nigeria that says, “If 80% of people love me, then I will leave the 20% to keep on hating.”
    You just can’t change some people or things…..

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Everybody loves me, so I can’t relate. Ha! I have stories you wouldn’t believe.I refuse to pour energy into getting people to like me or into understanding why they don’t. Like Zora, “it merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” Take that attitude and you’ll be A-OK.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Good luck. I don’t know if this helps, but a lot of families have their little estrangements. I had almost no relationship my my dad’s family and now my paternal second cousins are finding me on Ancestry and 23 and Me, and I don’t know what to do with any of them. Also, my recently widowed brother sent the family a text a few weeks ago that he had a new fiance. He sent it to my old phone number even though I gave him the new one, so my daughter told me and then she told him i never got THE TEXT and he still hasn’t picked up the phone. It makes me sad and mad, because I have always given the most in this relationship and who announces an engagement via text? And yet, at the same time, we have all this mostly good history and I know he loves me, but I refuse to pick up the phone. Still, when he reaches for me, I will reach back and meet him where he is. I love that Agreement about not taking things personally and I get to work on it all of the time. Good luck. Just be your beautiful self.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m laughing at you saying, “I don’t know what to do with any of them” lol

      And, uh, what in the world??? Why would someone send their sister an engagement announcement via text?

      Agreement #2…I have to refer to it often. In fact, it’s helped me live life this year. Maybe I’ll keep that in mind as I travel to their home. Thanks for the well-wishes and I shall ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Girlfriend, extend your arms straight out in front of you. Bend your elbows slightly and have your fingers face one another. Ok? Here’s a hug!!!
    I understand. I know how you feel. Have you heard the phrase “Traet others how you want to be treated”? Or “Kill ’em with kindness”? That how you should think and do from this day forward. Say hello with a smile and keep walking. Send birthday cards, holiday cards and well wishes, BUT don’t ever let them see you sweat! Meaning, no need to explain your thoughts, feelings are actions to them. No need. When my grandma passed, family members said I “distant and private”, surprised (not happy) to see me. Ok. That was my response. With a smile. Never asked me how I was doing, what’s new or anything about me. So, ok. Like you said, it is what it is. 😗
    And I never showed them my pain in their lack of interest in me. That was the end of May. Now it’s November and for my birthday I received a lot of happy birthday wishes from family members. It is what it is. 😂 Right?! JUST REMEMBER, DO YOU!!! 👍 And don’t let anyone or anything change YOU.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww thanks Cherie! You’re right. Since I sent that letter, I’ve learned not to do that ever again with anyone. I’ve learned to manage my emotions in healthier ways girl. Don’t get me wrong, if anyone ever asks me how I feel, I’ll let them know, but the thing is when people lack care and empathy (like your family at the funeral), they probably aren’t gonna ask anyway lol

      I shall remember this advice and I’ll update everyone on the trip 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  10. All the best on your trip- it’s good that you’re in that space. It’s easy to become bitter and angry towards ‘family’ like that ( I’m guilty of this lol) but the fact you are willing to be present and see how things go the next time you all meet is yet again inspiring x

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve grown distant from many family members… no feuds or bad blood, but we live far apart and rarely see one another. When we do, it’s in the context of some huge family gathering (holidays, reunions) where it’s impossible to have an intimate conversation or get to know them on a deeper level. To be honest, I am such an outsider in their lives now I wouldn’t know where to start. Good for you for holding out an olive branch, for giving it another try. They might surprise you. Or they might not. But the ball will be in their court. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find it’s easy for that to happen, especially if you rarely see one another. Then, when you do it is super-superficial, like you’ve described. I think that’s part of my angst too. I loathe superficial relationships. But anywho, we’ll see.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you Kathy for being so open and true about a situation that is sad in a family
    but not too unusual. I really do wish you love and patience in the meeting with the
    family members. It might take more than one visit but is worth it. If not, you have to
    walk away in peace.

    Good luck

    Miriam

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow, Kathy, this is incredible! What insights around your inner process with your brother and sister-in-law and sister. I am moved by your clarity and intention to be present, open to acceptance, and simply get to know them. I have an idea for you – I’ll email you now. Blessings to you and to them!
    Love, Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I am impressed with your courage, Katherin. I relate to finding insight into relationships as we get older. My two brothers ended their relationship, but they come together to have lunch with me every few months. It’s very interesting.
    I use the word “interesting” a lot. It’s a way for me to distance myself from being judgmental in any way. I would say you are going to definitely find your visit interesting! Looking forward to hearing about it. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. As always, so relatable, insightful and encouraging.
    I’d read that the two big things couples fight over are in-laws and money.

    I need to get into the IDGAF phase, myself. I’m taking my in-laws criticisms too personally. It’s eating at me and I’ll never be able to prove myself to them.

    Someone asked a question of me recently when I said, “his family” – “aren’t they your family too?”
    I’ve thought about it and the answer is “no!” since they don’t accept me, they hold me at a distance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Melissa! I’m happy/sad that you can relate. One thing that’s helped me is to truly understand that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I’m a good person and I know it. I also know I’ve acted like a donkey sometimes, but who hasn’t? I’ve also learned that you cannot make someone like/love you. They either do or don’t.

      I totally relate to that last part. A lot of times we’re told that we’re marrying the person AND their family. I’ve always wondered if in-laws feel the same. Sometimes I’ve simply felt like D’s wife :-/

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I have been, on and off for three days, trying to write a blog post that touches on this topic (but on a different niveau, so to speak). This inspires me to review it again today and see if I can put it into words as elegantly as you did here.

    Kudos for the introspection! I look forward to read what your interpretation of your visit will say. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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