Airing of Grievances

My youngest brother Nick has, what he thinks is, a great idea. He has been trying to convince me to help him make this “great idea” happen. Basically, he would like to get the entire family together and have, what I have come to think of, as a huge airing of the grievances. He wants to discuss all of the family issues – all of them. He wants to tell my parents how some of the things they said to him growing up affected him. He wants my brother to do the same. He does not believe there has been honest dialog between everyone – and he believes this will clear the air.  And the fact I disagree with him means I am not ready to be honest with those around me about their role in shaping my life – both positive and negative. He needs it, therefore, we all must need it.

He is upset at my lack of enthusiasm. In fact, I think no good can come from this one. I gave him an example of where no good can come from that kind of honesty. 

My dad years ago had a heart attack. I was living out here. Indigo was a baby when I got that call in the middle of the night letting me know they were life flighting him to a larger hospital. The next 48hrs were the longest of my life. Even if I had wanted to do it, I could not have gotten there in a timely manner. The Midwest was snowed, then iced in – I would have gotten there by the time he was sent home. My dad and mom both said not to worry. They said to stay where I was. So, I called – a lot.  After he got home, I called a lot. When he was struggling with depression, I chatted with him online from work – and I talked to him on my drive home.  I was there during the next year as much as I could living where I did. He struggled with this for almost two years, I might add.

While we were visiting them a few weeks ago, my dad was venting about my brothers. And then, he explains why he is truly upset. I mean, these were the kids who were there for him while he was at his worst – they helped him get through it. My facial expression must have given my reaction away. So, he quickly says “but I mean, it’s not that I’m blaming you for living out here, it’s just…”  I have no idea what he said after that. As he had already said enough.

I explained this to my brother. I mean, hearing this did do something – he’s right – I now understand why there are times where I feel like I am not truly part of the family anymore. Why there is a me and them. Because there is. I’m not part of that. So, I tell this to my brother. He is at a loss of words. I said “yeah, you’re right – it did clear the air. He feels better, and I get to understand why I’m on the outside. And now why my kids are on the outside. Great. Thanks. That REALLY helped.”

He didn’t say much in response to this story. I finally told him if he needs that with my parents – then go for it. I will not be a part of it. Hearing it will not do anything but piss me off and likely result in me severing my ties with them all.  Too pessimistic? No, I don’t think it is given the preview I got. Like I told him, our life growing up – good and bad – has made me into who I am. All I can do now is make sure I don’t fuck my own kids up. My parents no longer parent me. They have changed as have I. I don’t feel they need to be punished. They made mistakes. They did some things right. If he needs that discussion with our parents – he should have it. He is entitled to having it if he needs it. I do not want it or need it, so will never be part of it.

So what do you think? Too harsh of me? The right approach?

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Secretia says:

    You seem like you understand the situation much better than your brother. I’d do it your way.

  2. IveyLane says:

    Good god, lady, stick to your guns. As you said, he is free to do as he wants and to enjoy or suffer the consequences, but to my mind, what exactly is the goal? If it’s just to “get it out” then start a blog, but what could or would change?

    A lot of folks came up through life with a certain amount of disfuntion. So what? When you were 20, sure, place some blame; you’re entitled. But at 30 or 40 or more? Please. Decide if you love them or not and then choose to act accordingly.

  3. 13messages says:

    I’m with those above. I’d stay the hell away from any “public airing of grievances.” Good luck.

  4. Hubman says:

    Yeah, I don’t get the point of airing ages-old grievances either. I’d tell you’re brother to grow up and get over it.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to duck the proverbial smack upside the head from my mother, the social worker who believes all dysfunction is related to past events and can be solved by talking about it…

  5. Emmy says:

    Secretia – Thanks!

    Ivey – Love that approach “Decide if you love them or not and then choose to act accordingly.” It’s my belief as well.

    13Message – Yeah I will definitely be staying away even if they decide in their infinite wisdom to go forth.

    Hubman – I think your mom wouldn’t smack you too hard, but likely point out he should just get a fucking counselor if he needs to talk about his feelings. Going to the source of the “trauma” if you will usually doesn’t go well – even people within the psych field usually agree.

  6. You’re definitely in the right. What’s happened has happened and it’s not going to change by talking about it. I’ve been on the receiving end of the whole ‘I’m using honesty as an excuse to get back at you’ and it sucks, as you know. It’ll make him feel better but it’ll make your parents feel like shit, it’s selfish to put your desire to say your piece over the future of the relationship – it’s not going to make things better in the future to go back over old ground.

    You’re a sensible lady.

    —Amy xxxx

  7. Buffalo says:

    Nick is wanting to set an absolute train wreck in motion. Very bad idea.

  8. Fusion says:

    No good would come from it, other than that train wreck Buffalo so aptly alluded to.
    I’d do exactly what you have decided to do, nothing.

  9. I agree with you. If he thinks it will be helpful for him, then let him do it. But there’s no need for you to be involved – it’s not about you. If he has some issues to resolve with you, then he can talk to you about it. But you don’t need to be involved in whatever issues he has with the parents.


  10. Meeting with your whole family to air out the family grievances is the worst idea in all of time.

    Unless of course you can get some TV shrink to facilitate it, air the whole thing on TLC and get them to throw in a Hawaiian vacation of reconciliation a la Jon & Kate.

    Seriously, no good can come of this. Why do people think so much food is served at family gatherings? Its so people are too busy eating or napping off the food to really talk to each other.

  11. Ms Scarlett says:

    Wow, is it Festivus already?

    I think if your brother wants to air his grievances, then he should. But there is no reason that the rest of you need to be dragged into it. I’m not sure why he thinks that getting everyone together in the same room so they can all tell each other why their pissed off will inspire “honest dialog” rather than screaming matches and hurt feelings.

    Stick to your guns – I think you’re absolutely right.

  12. Sa says:

    Good call, Emmy. Everyone else has said such wise things. I would just add that you have found happiness and peace with your own family-don’t waste energy and time on something you don’t truly need.

  13. I’ll add to the chorus here. These things are almost always for the sole benefit of the person who wants to bitch, not for anyone else involved. They tend to be less about solving tje issues and more about apportioning blame. I think you’re wise to stat away.

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