You can’t delete any chapter from your Life. At best you can choose not to revisit it!
I was talking to a friend the other day who has a dysfunctional relationship with her mother – quite the way I do. We shared notes on how much our world expects us to brush aside the way we have been treated and pretend as if everything’s been perfect with our lives. Now, here, I am not talking about clinging on to the past and grieving over what has happened or the way things are. I am referring to an expectation that most people have of you – which is, even if you don’t want to engage in the dysfunctional relationship and prefer maintaining a dignified silence and distance, you are expected to be nice and demonstrate socially correct, often politically too, etiquette. Why?
The bigger question is why is it not right to be away from someone who makes you unhappy and in whose presence you just stop being yourself? Why must you grit your teeth and put up with relationships where there is no relating with that someone anymore, where neither party is happy? I believe that if people have not been able to give each other dignity – for whatever reason – they have no business being together. Period. There are really no two ways about it.
In our Tam Bram (Tamizh Brahmins – to boot, I am Palaghattan, additionally, for no apparent reason that I contributed to!) culture, there’s a euphemism for helping people ‘cope with dysfunctional relationships’. It goes like this: “Ellaru aathuleyum nadakarthuthaane!”. It means such dysfunctions exist all around us, in all families, so just learn to adjust, accommodate and go on. To be sure, I see the wisdom in such thinking. It is profound. We must as humans definitely accept the diversity about, in and around us. But what if the person in question, with whom you have no chemistry, continues to give you a hard time? What if each conversation is abrasive, each action is manipulative and you just don’t enjoy meeting this person?
The best way then, from what I have learned from my own experience, is that in everyone’s interest – yours, the other party’s and in the interest of the extended circle of influence – two people who cannot get along well must just stay apart. I have learned also not to carry any grudges. Or hatred. I have forgiven myself. And those that I cannot stand and who have hurt me or betrayed my trust. Even so, I cannot forget what has happened to me through experiences arising from such dysfunctional relationships. I know I can’t delete those chapters from my Life. So I have chosen not to revisit them! Simple.