Little Red was stressed. After everything Wolf had done to her and her grandmother, he’d only gotten a few months in the slammer. Now he was out of prison and the chances of running into him were greater than they had been for months.
Red had forgiven him, but she was unsure what to do when he sent her and grandmother an invitation for a holiday dinner. Should she go and bring Grandma? Or should she go alone? Or should she do as grandma suggested–throw Wolf’s invitation into the rubbish heap.
As the shadows fell around the house, Red had an eerie feeling. It was the same creepy feeling she’d had when she was picking flowers on that terrible day. This time Red listened to her heart. For one thing, Mr. Wolf had never apologized for all the trauma he had put her through.
Red tossed the invitation into the outhouse, ran inside and locked the door. She would make other plans for dinner. She’d invite some safe friends over so she and Grandma would not be alone and they would play some parlor games and eat lots of huckleberry pie.
Holidays are a time of huge expectations. If you feel uncomfortable sharing a meal with your family this might be a good time to listen to your heart. Ask yourself why. Is there something that would solve this besides avoiding the family? If you have tried to communicate, but your feelings are ignored and you feel you can’t be yourself, it might be time to go either “low contact” or “no contact.”
One of the myths about adult children of dysfunctional families is they are bitter and have not forgiven because they are still talking about their pain. Choosing to have less contact does not mean we haven’t forgiven. Many people are still in the process of healing and may have trouble moving on because the pain of a broken relationship is like a death in the family.
Those who accuse us of not forgiving have either not experienced the betrayal and abandonment of a parent–or they are in denial about their own issues. There are some people who will continue to deny what they’ve done and try to bully others until their dying day. These people, like the wolf, are simply unsafe to be around no matter what they say.
There are people who ask: Isn’t it un-christian to go no contact? Didn’t Jesus tells us to love our enemies? These people need to take into account everything Jesus says. He also said liars are from their father the devil. It’s not Christian to lie, cheat and use other people.
Jesus told his friends to leave a house where they are unwanted and kick the dust from their feet. If any of us are unwanted even within our own family, isn’t it better to leave, than to stay and fight? For some people going no contact is simply turning the other cheek and walking away from a fight.
Going no contact is one way to stop being a victim and stand up for yourself. No contact can even be a part of the final stages of grieving for some people.
Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross defines the five emotional stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Many adult children of dysfunctional families have been in three of the stages–denial, bargaining and depression for years. Sometimes we need to get in touch with our healthy anger before we can find acceptance for our situation.
If you have been in an ongoing, abusive situation of any kind, healthy anger might include going no contact. It might not be forever, but it should continue until both parties can respect each other. When our family members are put on low or no contact they have options–
1. They can ignore the situation
2. They can continue with the same lies and behavior
3. They can play the victim and complain
4. They can call us up and ask us what they can do to repair the relationship
Relationships are always a two way street and the phone goes both ways as well.
No contact is one way of taking your power back. This leads to acceptance and acceptance is the realization we cannot change anyone but ourselves.
No contact is acceptance. It’s saying “I realize I can’t change you and I accept that we can’t have a healthy relationship so I will fill my life with people who care about me rather than have a martyr-like relationship with you.”
Wherever we are in the process, the sooner we stop bargaining and leave denial, the sooner we get in touch with our healthy anger, the less we might be depressed and the sooner we can accept that yes, we came from a dysfunctional family, but we are taking control of our own lives and we will be okay.