I remember in high school (class of 1947), there was always at least one who voted against whatever the rest of the class agreed on. I even remember WHO it was; the one who never agreed with the rest of us. Sadly, that is often true in families also. It seems that there is one who is always ‘stirring’ up a problem or making trouble between other members. This can cause such grief and no one understands why. We are only aware of the truth of it.
We react differently when this is a family member. If a neighbor or an acquaintance caused a problem, it would be easier to overlook or ignore. When it is one of the family, not only does it hurt more, but we hesitate to show our true reaction. Sometimes we pretend it is nothing, really, but inside we have been damaged by the words or actions of someone we care about.
These individuals, however, don’t seem to notice the harm they have caused. They often go on their selfish way, on to the next time they can strike. Sometimes we can never get close to the family member with this attitude. Usually these individuals are not close to anyone; they seem to prefer to be alone. At least that is the idea they project to others. After a while, we stop trying. We learn that one can’t force others to be friendly, even family members.
It is a heartbreaking experience for families who long to be close to each other. It is so difficult to accept the words or actions one ‘of our own’ who seems determined to cause trouble between other family members. We never understand WHY and we never know WHEN these might strike again or HOW they might go about their efforts, seemingly to damage the family. All we know is that it happens. Anytime is too often.
What can we do about it? Nothing, unless we sever all contact with that person. We still love them but sometimes we don’t LIKE him/her. When there are family get-together s, we learn, in a nice way, to avoid that person. This isn’t always possible; these can make sure that we can’t avoid them.
Why would they do this? Maybe these individuals enjoy the problems they cause. That might be the only excitement in their lives. Maybe causing a problem allows them to feel ‘powerful’ in some way. They seldom act as if they regret their words or actions. Their attitude doesn’t make us eager to forgive, even though we know that we must.
The end results are that we, in the meantime, realize those we can trust and those we can’t — even within a family. We can’t trust everyone. That can be a difficult lesson to learn but time often teaches us the things we need to know.
Make certain that you are not the one who causes trouble between family members. Whatever the reason, it happens too often and is a painful experience for all involved.
83-year-old Lura Zerick is the mother of 5 adults, grandmother of 12 and great-grandmother of 7. She was born and raised in the Florida Panhandle. After living in Miami, Atlanta, Tampa and other cities, she now lives on six acres of woods in S.E. Alabama, near Geneva.