Where is the line between giving to someone when you don't feel like giving any more, and removing yourself from a difficult and costly emotional situation because it might be the best thing to do? It's hard to make these kinds of decisions as we can't look at things honestly and fairly; there is simply too much resentment and frustration in the way of clear thinking.
I know from talking to my friends that this is a common issue in family relationships, likely because they go all the way back to birth, and there is often a sense of forced togetherness. When the conflict isn't worked through in any real way, it begins simmering on a low heat, deep below the surface, and interferes with any kind of relationship progression. At a certain point, the hard questions have to be asked, and I don't know any of the answers.
I do know that there is a line that I won't cross, but knowing where it is, and how much more of the high road could be walked, becomes a tricky process. We are often forced to feel our way in the dark, terrified of being lost or falling and breaking a bone. I don't like feeling uncertain, but in relationships, we are not in control of everything, only our own side of the interaction.
I don't want to hang on to anger when I need to let it go. But there is a place to let go of anger, to forgive, and still to hang back. I'm not very good at living in that place. I want to kiss and make up, but sometimes the cost is too high, and you've seen it go bad too many times in the past, and you don't want to keep living through the same nightmare. So you step back, to protect yourself and stop being a fool, but then you wonder if you are being too harsh, and the questions come again.
I thought when I was in my twenties that relationships would get easier as I got older. I'm finding they are more complicated now than ever - thorny and challenging in every direction, and it makes me sad that we can't all just get along and be kind to each other. I suppose I can be patient with myself, and accept that I don't have all the answers, and not expect anyone to be kind to me if I am not loving to them.
My goal is to push aside the years that have gone before and try to start fresh, in my own attitude and outlook, and see if that helps anything. It's not a simple process, as the past informs the present in a real way, but I don't want to keep lugging around the emotional baggage from everything that has happened in the past.
I'd prefer to create new and lighter luggage, but I have no idea how to do it. Thinking about it helps, and not putting pressure on myself one way or the other. I can only do the best that I can to heal these relationships, but I am only one side of the issue. I must be as gentle and kind as I can to myself and to the other party, while I get closer to figuring out where the line is, and whether or not I should cross it.