I had to unfriend my grandma on facebook today. It was time.
My mom’s side of the family has never felt very welcoming. I grew up with the closeness and care of my dad’s heavily Irish-Polish family. Visiting my mom’s parents was always the boring trip - they weren’t overly affectionate, or fun, or interested in me as a child. At least that’s how it felt.
When I was 9, those grandparents retired to New Mexico. We visited twice - both trips that young me found excruciatingly dull. But our relationship was mostly cards for birthdays and “Christmas” (they are Jewish, but just barely - no real practicing). Phone calls that everyone in my house tried to avoid. My mom had always felt alienated in her family - the lone liberal in a family of staunch conservatives.
My grandpa passed away two years ago. I felt really guilty that I wasn’t more sad. I had been living in New York for several years and had not spoken to them once in that time - not from taking a stand, but because they did not reach out. Their birthday cards said “Love, Grandma and Grandpa.” And that’s it. So when he passed, I was sad for a relationship I didn’t have, but really confused as to why it wasn’t more upsetting.
I had the weird privilege of getting to go on stage during the Del Close Marathin at the UCB theater and presenting this issue to some life heroes - Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, and Matt Besser. I explained my issue as Amy raptly nodded in understanding. I was told that it’s time to choose my own family, and that sometimes family doesn’t have to be the most important thing in your life. Sometimes, they just do not have to be there if that’s what’s best. You’re allowed to not be connected to people who never tried to connect with you.
When Trump won the nomination, the only political stance my grandma took with me was the “angry” reaction to an Anti-Trump news piece I posted. She stayed smartly quiet after that. Until yesterday, when she told me the news of the KKK was just an “unfounded rumor” from an “untrustworthy source”. I responded with plenty of trusted sources - and the fact that the KKK had announced their celebration on their own website. She never responded.
She made a very political post today. It was time to let go.
Sometimes family is nothing more than the people you happen to be related to. You can only do so much and go so far - but understand that you CAN set limits. You don’t HAVE to accept someone who doesn’t respect you. You can even still, deep down, love them - but you don’t have to like them. You get to decide who’s a part of your life. You make that call. Be as ruthless as you possibly can be with your self-care.