I was at a group the other day, and one member talked about an issue she was having with her mother and brother.
this girl is gay, her brother is gay, and her mother is having difficulty accepting it. That seems fine. The issue she was in fact talking about was between brother and mother, and the fact that the mother was having trouble accepting the brother as gay.
"Is that your issue? Does it need to be your issue?"
"How is it your issue?"
"If she can't accept my brother, how can she accept me?"
This girl is the one who came out first.
So my response was "If she doesn't accept you, how can she accept your brother?"
I don't think she got it. I was left with a blank look. I explained:
"Your mother has had a year or more to get used to the idea that you're gay, she's had a month to deal with the fact that your brother is. Why should she find it easier to accept that her son is gay than that her daughter is gay? Surely she would come to accept you first, and then your brother." (In reality, I know that once the penny drops for one person, it's usually for all of them at the same time)
My point through all of this, which has been a point that I've made to her many times over, is that she would probably do better to be taking care of her own relationships with her mother and brother, and let them worry about theirs themselves. Why am I involved? She keeps asking for advice.
In another conversation "My mum wants me to reconcile with my sister, but if my sister wants reconciliation, she can come reconcile with me"
I was flabbergasted. Then my brain kicked into action:
"Reconciliation is a two-party process, and it only works when both parties are willing"
"I'm willing, but she has to make the first move"
"Both parties need to be equally willing, or it will fail."
"I'm willing to make it work, but she has to come to me and accept some blame"
"If you're asking her to extend further than you're willing to extend yourself, then are you really equally willing?"
"I think so?"
"You're asking her to take a risk you're unwilling to take. You need her to be more willing than you are to start the reconciliation process. For reconciliation to work, you need to make a step. If you want it, if you think it needs to happen, then make a step."
"But she won't accept responsibility for what she did, I mean, I know I'm partly responsible too, but she won't accept any responsibility, even though she's the one that pushed me to say stuff and do stuff"
I gave up on the direct approach, and later in the evening, the group was talking about emotional healing.
"To be free, to be unhindered, we need to be able to let go of not only the good things, which are sometimes easy, sometimes hard, but also the bad things, the painful things, because it's only when we hold onto them, and let them colour the way we see the world, that they've really hurt us in a meaningful way."
Some discussion ensued
"And beyond that, we need to be able to let go of these things without needing someone to take responsibility for the hurt, pain, sorrow, suffering, anger, or negativity that they have caused us, because sometimes, you'll never ever get them to say it."
"Yeah, Some people just won't accept any part of a wrongdoing" (this wasn't the girl in the first section here)
"But beyond that, some people will never have the opportunity to take responsibility, or shoulder blame. There are people you'll never see again, I'm sure, who have hurt you in some way or another, and they may not even know they've hurt you, they might not care, or they might have no way to find you to tell you that they acknowledge and apologise for the pain they've caused, so you need to be able to let go, without needing them to say 'sorry'"
I know. This stuff is incredibly hard to put into practice, but if you can do it, even giving it a shot, tends to improve your day-to-day emotional attitude.
Those are small snippets of bigger conversations, but I think they help get across my take on some relationship stuff.