Friends, family, holidays, and conflicted feelings

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Friends, family, holidays, and conflicted feelings

Post by Kayintruth on Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:47 am

Hi everyone,
Hi again, I guess. I used to have an account on the forums several years ago, but stuff happened, and I feel like I need to start fresh rather than picking up that account again.
I’m making this topic because I really need to sort out feels on a couple things. I’m not averse to advice, but I’m really more looking to sort out what I even want and whether what I’m feeling is reasonable, or selfish and small minded like I’m feeling it is.
I guess the first thing is, obviously, holidays are coming up. I had a pretty big falling out with my family a few years ago, and haven’t really spoken to any of them but my mom almost since then.
Part of this has been facilitated by moving to the other side of the world for work last year (which ties into issue 2)
I decided at the time that I was done with family stuff. If my family members wanted a relationship with me, they could have one with me, directly. (As opposed to by proxy, through my mom)
Well, unsurprisingly that has not happened. The inertia of family relations is such that I’m pretty sure I got the most pressure to form relationships and once I stopped trying there was no trying at all any more.
Recently, my siblings have been asking my mom if i’m Interested in doing Christmas gifts this year, which i have conflicted feelings about. On the one hand, sure, i’d like to, but I’d also like to be asked myself, you know? Like, idk if I should make a post on Facebook or email my family members letting them know that inquiries through mom will not be accepted or responded to or what, but i’m exhausted of the pressure (much less now i’ve objected to it, but still there from the weight of previous years) to be the peacemaker, and as much as I want a healthy relationship with my sibs, I cannot cannot fall back into the same roles we had before.
Mom says there’s no way that’s going to happen (basically, it’s impossible due to the falling out) and also that expecting the sibling I had the fight with to reach out to me is putting them in a damned-if-they-do, damned-if-they-don’t position. Personally, I feel like even if I didn’t want to talk to them in the immediate fallout of the argument, going several years without sending even a “can we talk?” sends it’s own message.
It’s getting really obvious that if I am going to have a relationship with them, it’s going to have to be me who establishes contact, but 1) i’m Exhausted of chasing after them, and 2) I feel like I shouldn’t have to? Like, if they value our relationship so much, what’s with the radio silence?
So that’s issue 1: to initiate contact or let it go.
(I should probably also say for the sake of honesty, I haven’t really communicated this desire to speak directly rather than through, since by the time I was calm enough - i’m Still angry tbh- to Write something without putting myself in a tailspin, enough time had passed and i’ve Had enough experiences of having other family members and other relationship peoples turning back attempts to communicate my feelings to them on me before that I said fuckit they can figure it out on their own.
The second issue is that, where i’m Working has a pretty small international Community, and contact with them is... weird. I’m having a lot of low-self-esteem thoughts because making friends has been really difficult. With a few people, I can remember putting my foot in my mouth in ways that would explain having the invitations i’ve sent out get turned down, but for most of them...? I really can’t think what I did. It’s really painful getting excluded from and/or ignored at events though. Several of my coworkers say that it’s basically a clique and to get one the bad side of one is to get on the bad side of the rest, which might explain things. I did have a (I thought mild) disagreement with one of the central people of this group when I first got here.
I do have a small group of friends, so it’s not like i’m Completely alone, but those friends are often too far away from the events to go, or are organizers or are also friends with people in the group so I feel like a social pariah every time I attend an event (some of which i have to go for work, some of which I want to go to because it’s for charity or it’s a thing that is more feasible to do in groups and that group happens to be huge and also want to attend, etc)
So basically, recently I feel like a social failure, like there's some secret to making people want to have relationships with you that everyone else but me has seemingly learned.

Anyway, sorry for the screwed up capitalizations. I’m on mobile and the keyboard is unideal.
I’d really appreciate assurances, advice about whether/how to initiate contact with family members, and any insights into the situations that might be applicable.

Thank you!

Kayintruth

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Re: Friends, family, holidays, and conflicted feelings

Post by Enail on Thu Nov 23, 2017 2:52 pm

This sounds really tough! For the family stuff, I can't say whether you should re-initiate contact or not, I don't think there's a "right" answer here, so much as just weighing the various costs and benefits and how much they're worth to you.The fact that your siblings are trying to find out if you want to do Christmas presents, combined with the fact that you haven't directly told them that you'd like direct contact instead of going through your mom, does make it sound like they do want to re-establish some kind of relationship with you but aren't really sure how to go about it or if it would be welcomed, and that they may not realize you don't like them always going through your mom. But it also sounds like part of your issue with them is that you feel like you're always the one who has to put in the hard work and risk the vulnerability entailed in communicating and you'd like them to pick up the slack more.

So a question to ask yourself might be how you'd feel about a relationship with them where you did continue having to be the first to reach out and tell them clearly what you want from them? How much would you need them to reciprocate for it to be worthwhile for you? Would it feel okay if they were willing to try to meet specific requests like "talk to me directly instead of going through mom" and to establish a regular pace of contact , but you knew you could never count on them to be the one to bridge the gap after a conflict or to initiate difficult things?  What changes or responses would you need from them to make your relationship one that you'd feel better about? Being as clear and specific about what you want as possible tends to help, imo, so if you do decide to re-initiate contact, I'd recommend giving a good think about what you really want from them, what's an acceptable compromise, and what's totally unacceptable.

WRT the friend issue, that sounds like an extremely difficult situation to make friends in! Small, cliquey communities are something that I find really doesn't work for me socially; I don't know if there's a secret to getting on in that kind of social situation, so I can't be much help in terms of advice here, but I do know that having trouble being accepted in a circle like that does not at all mean you're not someone people can want to have relationships with! "Making friends in a claustrophobic, cliquey situation" is a pretty small subset of the "making friends" skillset.

My only suggestions other than "don't take it as meaning you're a social failure" are to look for other people who might be a bit more marginal in the community who might be a better fit and also want to make connections with non-cliquey people, and look for opportunities to connect with people from outside the small community. If there's a language barrier, could you try and take language classes or find a language exchange partner who wants to practice English?
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Re: Friends, family, holidays, and conflicted feelings

Post by Kayintruth on Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:24 am

Thanks Enail, you’re given me a lot of questions to think about. I still don’t really have any what the answers are, but having clear questions is a start at least.
Thanks for the advice as well; I’ve been focusing on making friends outside the main clique and outside the international community, which has been with mixed results. On that front, all I can do is to keep trying, I guess.

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