I am struggling to understand and decide what my duties are to a family that I have had a relationship with for over ten years. I became close with them when I was in high school and spent lots of time with them until about a year ago. It was then that I realized I had been hiding under their influence and decisions to determine who I was. I was using their power and control to stay small and safe. I have been doing a lot of work on myself and over the past year. I have moved away from them, started a new job, and started forming relationships that support who I want to be rather than determine who I am, and I am rebuilding my relationship with my family that I have been neglecting.
I have never felt so free and alive in my life. I am so happy to be on my own and to be learning to feel hard feelings to get the results I want. But now I am feeling guilt and obligation towards this family that I no longer am around. I am afraid of hurting them by not keeping in contact. I am afraid of neglecting a duty of friendship to those who have been a big part of my life and who have helped me. I do love them but I don’t want their influence in my life anymore. But at the same time, maybe I am just avoiding feeling negative emotion by keeping away from them: I don’t want to feel all the emotions they bring to my plate when I talk to them…. and then from this I see that I still give them control over how I feel.
Here is a model I ran:
T-they make me sick
A-I stay away
but then this result leads to another model because it brings up guilt–
C-guilt that I am not keeping up with the family
T-I should call them
A-I get tense and tight
R-I worry what I should do (which makes me sick)
How do I move forward with this? Do I owe them a clear conversation about this? Do I need to express these changes in our relationship? I can tell that the emotional strings attached to the story of my past are still alive in me, and they flare up and get me really scared. I know I can’t change the family, I can only change myself. And if choosing different company for my future self is in line with the life I want, then I will take it. I just hate to think that I am hurting those who have been a big part of my past because I am not communicating with them out of fear.