Seeking Peace

I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note — torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one. ~Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman


The older I get, the more I crave peace.

It’s an attitude I inherited from my late dad, only our methods differ.

Daddy wanted peace at any price. Peace in the family, he believed, could be had by giving in to the demands of difficult members.

“Kill them with kindness,” he used to say.

And while that attitude might be more Christ-like, I’ve observed that, with some folks, it just doesn’t work.

Maybe you’ve encountered the kind of people I’m talking about. They do everything in their power to stir up dissension. They tease without mercy, then criticize you for “not being able to take a joke.” They swoop into a room, emanating an aura of urgency and drama. And, worst of all, because they’re family, they know which buttons to press to ignite a host of angry, unsettled feelings in everyone else.

Now, drama has its place. The stage, of course, along with novels, the courtroom, television, and perhaps a middle school girls’ slumber party.

But not family.

Family is supposed to be a haven. A place where they understand you, comfort you, accept you (and all your humanness). As is. A place where, when your hopes are dashed, they pick you back up; when you’re celebrating a victory, they join right in; where they help you become a better you.

Not where you walk on eggshells because “anything you say can and will be used against you….” Not where old arguments are repeatedly brought up and bandied about again. Not where mistakes are ridiculed. Not where the inciter whispers behind your back, trying to shore up his stance by gathering supporters to his side. Not where abuse — be it mental, physical, or emotional — runs rampant.

So, while Daddy was quick to give in to maintain peace, I forgive in my heart and move on. I don’t need that kind of drama in my life — nor do I need the ones who bring it, regardless of the relationship. Forgiveness means wiping the slate clean; if someone can’t do that, I don’t want them in my orbit.

Recently, I read something that resonates with me — Cutting people from your life does not mean you hate them; it simply means you respect yourself.

Any thoughts you’d like to share?

41 thoughts on “Seeking Peace

  1. Wise musing here, Debbie. I feel like I’ve read too many memoirs where, sadly, this isn’t the case. Rivalry seems to run thick in families, and I see it even in the best of families where favoritism comes into play or neglect. It’s hard to let old wounds go. But go they should! That is a wonderful quote, too.

    • It *is* hard to let old wounds go, DD. But somehow, it seems that’s part of “growing up,” the ability to forgive little slights and start anew. I’m not talking about BIG wounds (like abuse), but continual bragging that “Mom liked me best” doesn’t exactly endear you to your siblings!

  2. Very wise words, I must say. It would be lovely to think that family meant an unbreakable bond, but sadly it isn’t always so. No one needs drama and negativity in their lives, especially when it comes from those nearest and dearest. Sometimes the kindest thing all round is to step away and leave them to it.

    • I’m ALL for stepping away, Lucy! I think the very worst is the constant bringing up of insignificant things that one person sees as important, while the others have already moved on. And taking “dirty laundry” public, casting relatives in the worst possible light, just might come next on my list. If we can’t expect peace in our homes, how can we expect peace in our world??

  3. I totally get it. Sometimes the worst drama is in families. I also have tired of walking on eggshells. I accept those for who they are and am kind. However, I have no contact other than family social events. I just don’t need the negativity or drama. I enjoy my center of peace, and with constant communication with some depletes it. Selfish of me? Perhaps some think so, but I agree with you that we must respect ourselves.

    • Thank you, Suzi. I guess wishing things were different just doesn’t make them so, and part of me is saddened at that realization. When I was younger, I debated along with the best of them, but now it’s just easier to stay away. Maybe that’s why our friends are so precious to us — because we CHOOSE them, and they choose us. Reasonable people, it seems to me, have enough on their plates without stirring up emotions “for fun.”

    • I work on leaving the guilt out of my head, Suzi, for not calling as often as I feel I “should” but there are phone calls to certain family members that leave me depleted and with the need to center myself again because I’ve tried for the duration to bring the conversation back around to something positive. Your comment about it not being selfish to spend more time around that and Debbie’s that it’s a matter of respecting yourself have fortified me this morning. Thank you.

      • Barb, I wonder if these stirred-up individuals feel as much pain as we, who must deal with them, do. I can totally appreciate your reluctance to call or visit those who upset your peace. Respect yourself more, I say!!

  4. Debbie, you and I had the same type father. My dad avoided confrontation at any price. My father was an incredible man and father, who I deeply loved and respected. However, he did not like to face situations as they were. He like your father wanted peace. And like you, I don’t think that always works.

    Yes, we too had a tremendous amount of drama in my family, I think many (if not all) families do in one way or another. Which is why many years ago I made a conscious choice to pick and choose which family members I wanted to stay close with, while distancing myself from others.

    “Cutting people from your life does not mean you hate them; it simply means you respect yourself.”

    AMEN! And that pretty much sums up my sentiments exactly.

    Great post topic, my friend! Have a super week!

    X to you and Dallas

    P.S. Ironic you posted about this because I wrote a post last year about this same topic. In fact, it’s still in My Documents. I may post it,

    • Ron, is it possible it’s the hot-blooded Italian side of us that’s the cause of so much drama?? My late dad, bless his heart, never quite “got” my mom’s people. Nor do I. And, as I get older, I find myself withdrawing from huge gatherings of relatives — too much noise, too many people talking at once! But really, perhaps there’s “one in every family” who stirs the pot and brings more than his/her share of commotion, and it’s that person I have to avoid for my own peace of mind.

      I love the idea of respecting myself so much that I can cut some folks out of my sphere. Before reading that, I wondered if I was merely being selfish. But hey, it’s OKAY to know myself, to know I can’t be me if I’m having to walk on eggshells, to choose to surround myself with peace and calm.

      You have a similar post just awaiting that Publish button? Go for it, my friend — you know you want to!! Hugs to you! xx

  5. Sometimes it’s even worse when it’s family because somehow it feels that much harder to walk away. And it disrupts the whole family. One of our family members was very volatile when she was young and could easily cause ructions amongst us all at any family gathering. Talk about walking on eggshells! Fortunately, she grew out of it before it did any permanent damage, but it took her well into her thirties to do so. And no, just in case you’re wondering, not the sister who comments on my blog! I think you’re very wise to create some distance – sometimes it’s the only answer.

    • Perhaps some people have a harder time growing up than others? At any rate, I’m sorry you, too, have experienced this sort of disruption in your family (though part of me is awfully glad I’m not the only one!). I imagine putting some distance between me and the offending party is the only sane way to deal with the aggravation, though!

  6. Forgiveness, Debbie. Oh boy. I’ve been working on this for about a year now for a grievous act(s) that happened in my family. It’s a big thing. It’s tried me to my soul’s center. And it’s a process. It takes strength and prayer and, for me, reading and journaling and walking in nature and letting it go and letting it go and letting it go. I’ll think I’m there and it bubbles up again…but less frequently. Forgiveness is not for the weak or the pushovers – it takes great strength. I’m glad you’re clearing your orbit. I love that.

    • For me, the forgiveness came fairly fast; it’s the forgetting that’s taking a while. And while I refuse to hold a person’s “crimes” up front and center every time our paths cross, I can hardly help that my mind — and emotions — rock and roll every time we’re sharing the same space. And since this seems to happen routinely, it’s incumbent upon me to avoid contact with them. After all, I’m the one troubled by their drama; they don’t seem affected at all by causing commotion! But yes, great strength…and lots of prayer. My best to you, my friend!

  7. Debbie, I so crave peace at this point in my life also. I know what you are saying about family drama, and also the thought that families should always be supportive and understanding of each other. I certainly have experienced these problems firsthand….very hurtful. I also tend to avoid certain members, hopefully, it won’t last a lifetime, but yes, the forgetting is difficult. xo

  8. Family. They really do know how to push those buttons. I think part of it is we change but family has a hard time accepting the change or even seeing it. So if we long outgrew the clumsiness of childhood they still see us as awkward, or if we were always quiet and just took the teasing in stride but now object—we’ve lost our sense of humor. I guess the security of family is sameness and when a family member threatens that by growing, the less secure members react with drama to either bring us back to our old selves or to bring the attention back to them. It’s hard.
    I do think we choose our families to learn the lessons we most need to learn in this life Peace comes when we’ve learned those lessons. I still have a long ways to go.

    • Wonderful insight, Kb! I think you’re farther along on that path than I am. If we can accept our friends’ growth, why is it so hard to accept change in our family unit??

  9. People like that are impossible but I’m intrigued by your last line. How can cutting people out of your life be a sign of respect? Because you’d kill them if they remained? 😉
    I once had to cut someone out of my life and trust me, it wasn’t out of respect. I just don’t like negativity in my life. I like to surround myself with positive people. Though I should tell you, a relative came for a visit this week and she was a bit of a Debbie Downer, if you know what I mean. Every time I suggested taking a walk or going somewhere, she’d want to know how far it would be. It was as if taking two steps would be detrimental to her health. Ugh, it wore me down. Let’s just say I’m glad I have the house to myself again.

    • Monica, I think the quote means you respect yourself too much to allow another person’s drama to adversely affect you. I know when I’m around folks like this, I feel all balled-up inside; my heart starts racing, my creativity flies out the window, and I hate having to bite my tongue to keep from saying something mean. I don’t like myself very much that way! So, cutting out troublesome people is really a kindness, something that enables me to have the peace and calm I crave, while freeing them to take their drama elsewhere. If that sounds selfish, so be it. I’m sorry for your recent experience with your negative visitor — you probably should have stored up some Onyx ( before the visit!!

  10. It all comes back to kindness, right? If everyone was kind to one another, there would be no drama, no behind-the-back whispering, no need to break off a relationship. But, alas, sometimes kindness seems in short supply. When faced with engaging in poisonous drama or walking away for self-preservation, I agree that self-respect dictates sometimes having to “know when to fold ’em”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.