Being around family is tough. This weekend I went to a family BBQ. My little brother was there and said something that really hurt me. I don’t think he meant it to hurt, or even thought about what he said before he said it. My reaction was to make a joke, laugh it off, and then hide on the back patio for the rest of the evening before leaving the party early.
I am not going to share what he said, but I have the perfect analogy. It’s like a little 2 year old child who comes to you and says “You’re fat!” Except my brother is 21 years old. And though his comment wasn't about my weight (although there were some of those), it did hit me right in the shame-gut.
I was hurt he would think something like that of me. My first instinct was to lash out: “Well, at least I can hold down a job. Well, maybe, but I’ve seen and done more things in my life than you ever will. Well, at least I have manners.” You get the idea.
My second instinct was to forgive him. He’s young and very sheltered and has very little life experience with which to judge. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s just a rude little boy. He meant it as a joke. But thinking on this later makes me not want to forgive him. He is a rude boy. He should know better. He's an adult now and should think before he speaks.
Then last, I faced the truth in his statement. Well, maybe I am? Have I been slowly backsliding and allow myself to become this way? Is this what my family thinks of me? Does everyone think this of me? Is he finally bringing to my attention what everyone else is whispering behind my back?
So now I walk the fine line. Do I let this comment bother me? Do I accept it as constructive criticism? Do I take shame in it and begin to hide what I don’t want the family to see? Do I withdraw from my brother, nursing my wounds and feeding my resentment (aka: here’s your stupid Christmas present, brat). Do I let it roll off my back, and keep the family role as the easy-going-nothing-bothers-me child? I feel as though I’m at a fork in a trail and my decision will affect my future relationship not only with my brother, but with my family as well.
Ahh...family. Just when you think you can't live without them, somebody proves that you certainly can!