Hop-skippin’ the Rabbit Hole

Any of you have a family member who makes you feel less than? 

You know they love you – they have to – they’re family after all.

But … they don’t do anything that makes you feel loved, much less liked.

Maybe they loved who you used to be. Who you used to be as a child … before you grew up and had your own experiences and insight to offer.

I have someone whose actions leave me feeling as such and being around her has been trying at best.

I don't want to go near that rabbit hole; image from

I walked on egg shells.  I stifled my naturally boisterous laugh. I ceased having an opinion or an experience worth sharing.   To put it simply: I shrank.

I could not be myself because she does not accept me.

Wow! You’ve really put on weight. God your boobs are huge now.

Have you ever considered having your teeth fixed?

You’re so … loud.

 # # #

If this were a girlfriend, we would not be friends.

If this were a co-worker, I would have transferred.

If this were a neighbor, I would duck in as the garage door closed and stay out of sight.

But … sadly … this is family.  And when someone in your family behaves like this, they make family feel like the ultimate “F” word.

The advice I’ve been given is, “Oh … just let it go in one ear and out the other.”

But I can’t.   Because when I allow her barbs leave a mark, it’s like saying it’s OK to do so.

Last fall, after many conversations with the hubbs, I heeded his advice and took a relationship sabbatical. 

I stopped calling.

I stopped engaging.  I just stopped.

I waited to see what would happen .. and not a thing did.

I created a void that was never filled. And that, THAT my friends, that was THE life lesson.   The relationship I thought we had?  I was the glue holding our broken china together.  Without my loyalty and effort towards to our shared past.. the pieces fell away.

Was it easy? No it was not.

Pain. Tears.  Frustration. Anger. Disappointment. and then …over time, something else crept in.  Something unrecognizable and twofold … self-acceptance and …. later, peace.

In the absence of that one-way relationship, I found someone else.

I found myself.

We will see each other again when I visit Mom soon. And this time?  This time my shoulders will be back and I will arrive with an opinion, fabulous cleavage, shiny lipstick, sequins and all of the other quirks and oddities about me that annoy the you-know-what out of her.

What’s changed?

    I have.

She doesn’t like me, and I can’t change it.

But it’s no longer as important to me as it once was.


Because I like who I am .. and I’ve stopped asking for permission to do so.

 * * *

How about you?  Ever had to deal with a family member who “loves” you but isn’t … loving?  Can you see yourself in my story?


Categories: Beauty, Confidence at any age, Family, Grief, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Traditions, Women | Tags: , , , , | 33 Comments

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33 thoughts on “Hop-skippin’ the Rabbit Hole

  1. That sound you hear is a “standing ovation” for MJ.

    • thank you, LeRoy. This was easily the hardest post I’ve ever written. I nearly didn’t post it too many times … thank you for understanding, and for your many kindnesses.

  2. Aw, LeRoy is right. I like his sentiment, and I applaud your acceptance, MJ. Great for you! And I believe it is safe to say, many (myself included) can see themselves in your story. Your tale is universal, my friend. Congrats to you for not engaging.

    • Thank you, Lenore. I wish it wasn’t a universal experience but I think there are more people who can relate to my pain than not. It’s been a hard, long trail and I’ve shed many tears over it but I’m finally at a point of acceptance and that’s been very freeing for me … Cheers! MJ

  3. Amen sister! Rock that sequins…and that fabulous cleavage. My theory is when someone seems to have petty type problems with you it stems from something they see in you that they wish they saw in themselves…just a thought…

    • Jesse you may be on to something there. I’ve learned I no longer need her acceptance as deeply as I need my own. I can wish that she felt differently – but she doesn’t – and sometimes, for me anyways, the hardest part is in the letting go. Thank you for your thoughtful commentary, friend. MJ

  4. Great post. I found your blog through LeRoy’s page, and I’ll be a regular visitor. I can completely relate to your story. I often find myself trying to keep the peace with everyone (hazards of being a cop), but sometimes you just can’t…no matter how hard you try. Then you just have to put the big boy (or girl, in your case :)) underpants on and just be who you are. Kudos to you!

    • Thank you, Guy. I couldn’t agree more … I’m a fixer at heart and sadly .. somethings cannot be fixed by me. Thank you for visiting and please stop in again, MJ

  5. You said: But it’s no longer as important to me as it once was
    Because you have found peace about yourself – Makes all the difference even if it means we have to pull away from “that person” or that “situation. By pulling away, doing the work on ourselves, accepting others as they are, then and only then, can we find peace. Great post and I think we all have a family member or friend that causes us to question ourselves or cause pain
    Prayers for your day

    • Thank you for your kindness and understanding. And you’re right, when we pull back and instead do the work we need, it’s easier to let the others go. It’s theirs to own or fix .. or not!

      Cheers, MJ

  6. This must have been a very difficult post to share, but your courage will touch many readers. I am so glad that you found yourself and the peace that came with doing so. Just continue being true to yourself, being who you are…not who other people think you should be. I hope this upcoming visit is the best ever…let us know how it goes, please!

    • Thank you, it was difficult to write and I was afraid to share it. Then I realized that I was hiding (and thereby protecting) someone else’s behavior … which, in turn, enables it. Some things needs to be exposed to the light .. that’s where the lessons are, I find.
      Cheers, MJ

  7. I feel myself busting out of that suffocating cocoon with you. I think we’ve all been on both sides, and to be honest, I’d rather be on yours than hers. Hers is so… debilitating… hypocritical…and she lost a dear family friend. I hope her heart changes and she can see you for you… and love you anyway.

    Great post.

  8. cooper

    it takes two to tango…if all the energy (respect) comes from one side you’re better finding a new dance partner who won’t step on your toes…

  9. Linda Robertson Bourgeois

    Great courage…great post…universal theme or so it seems. Been there; done that!

    • Thank you, Linda. I kinda wish it wasn’t so universal but the reality is that there are more that have been in my shoes than haven’t. And maybe the others who cause the misery will be able to see themselves? Nah .. not holding my breath. -MJ

  10. I admire your courage in writing this. For me it’s not the insults, it’s the ignore. Unfortunately, it haunted me past my 40’s. I’m fine with it now…like you, I just like who I am. Thank you for writing this.

    • You know, Georgette, that is very true – being ignored is equally hurtful. I have witnessed that before and seen the pain it has caused. I’m glad you were able to move past it and be ok with who you are – and to learn that you ARE enough. Thanks MJ

  11. There’s a saying: “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family”. Your post reminded me of that!

  12. This was a huge topic of discussion in a writing retreat I participated in. The lesson we seemed to have gleaned was that their identity depended on our being _____ (fill in the blank). The minute we change, their position changes within the family unit. They cannot be who they have always been if we do not remain static. So it isn’t who we are that bothers them, but who they can no longer be. They should be pitied really. But you keep your shoulders back and remain your beautiful self, secure and confident!

    • Wow, Renee, what an intriguing way to look at it. I had not considered it from that angle … thank you for opening my eyes!! I sincerely appreciate .. you. Cheers~ MJ

  13. Oh this makes me think of a couple of sisters-in-law. In fact I was just thinking today how very long it’s been since either my husband or I have spoken to them. Yes, I recognized myself very much in your story. I’ve been there, and it took me a long time to learn my lesson too. And the peace that’s discovered once you realize that there’s nothing wrong with you just because someone else doesn’t like you? It’s priceless.

  14. Yes, this is me and one of my sister in laws but this is what I discovered. She was scared. I pushed all the wrong buttons just being myself. You are right. Now I hold my head high and I refuse to tone it down. Great post. I love growing!

    • That’s exactly it … and I think this person is, at heart, very unhappy. At the end of all of the angst I’ve had to accept that there are some things that *gasp* I just cannot fix … That was a hard one .. and the challenge was in letting go. I love growing, too!! Thanks Lissa .. MJ

  15. You are a brave woman! Said it before, and here it is again! Good for you!
    Wish I could be a fly on the wall to hear your conversation with this person! My money’s on you!


    • Well … I don’t know about brave. How about tired? I’m just tired of it. And the thing is now that I don’t engage … it makes for a whole new experience. I’m hoping for positive but, if it heads south, I’m not playin’.

      Cheers! MJ

  16. Pingback: Kreativ Blog on Fire .. x 7 | Emjayandthem's Blog

  17. Pingback: At home « Emjayandthem's Blog

  18. Pingback: What I learnt from Alice in Wonderland | Exploring Disney

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