Fighting Families

Family quarrels are bitter things. They don’t go by any rules. They’re not like aches or wounds; they’re more like splits in the skin that won’t heal because there’s not enough material. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald, American fiction writer

Silence just might be
Worse than angry words.
At least with angry words
One has communication.
Silence is so … quiet, so empty,
Like the vast wasteland
Decried decades ago.

Still, it’s angry words
That wound so bitterly.
Angry words that scar,
Leaving hurt feelings
And bitter memories.
That cause rifts in relationships
And once said, cannot be taken back.

Family isn’t the place
For this type of insidiousness.
Family is where love should prevail.
Support, encouragement, and loyalty triumph.
And peace predominate.
At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Sad that too often it doesn’t happen.

22 thoughts on “Fighting Families

  1. You’re so right: what ‘should be’ and what ‘is’ can be two quite different things. And you’re also right that, once said, words can’t be taken back. That’s one of the problems with today’s social media. People spout angry, hateful words — generally to people they’ve never met — and then others respond to those words with anger and more hate. At least in families there’s the chance for the bitterness to fade. After all, “holding” a grudge requires energy, and sometimes it’s just not worth the effort!

    • It’s often difficult to reconcile the ideal with the reality, isn’t it, Linda? I imagine we all would have preferred to have calm, peaceful families, but some ended up with drama and noise. Others ended up with the cold shoulder (and I don’t mean those “fashionable” tops women wear, ha!) As for social media, why, I just can’t imagine people conversing with so much hate to people they don’t know. You’re absolutely right though: holding a grudge does take a lot of energy.

  2. “At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
    Sad that too often it doesn’t happen.”

    Debbie, how true that is! I find that with certain members of my own immediate family.

    There’s a saying, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.”

    However, I don’t believe that. Just because someone is a family member, doesn’t mean I have to like them (or even love them). I pick and choose my family members like I do my friends.

    That may sound harsh. But when it comes to certain members of my own family, I don’t wish them any harm, but I find it much heathier not to have any communication with them.

    Have a great weekend, my friend! X

    • Ron, I completely agree. Perhaps it’s because people in our family know us so well — and know which buttons to press — that they can get us riled up. Or maybe it’s just that some people, regardless of the relationship, should steer clear of one another. I’ve always been taught that blood is thicker than water, but that only applies when the “blood” treats you well. And frankly, some people run roughshod over others to the point that I don’t care to be around them, despite familial ties.

      Thanks for dropping by, my friend. Enjoy the coming weekend. We’re expecting a lot of rain … and cooler temperatures. Gee, I don’t know where Spring went! xx

  3. You’ve got me thinking about the difference between angry words and cold silences… I often think we need a class in schools that teaches people how to disagree and express themselves respectfully. So many grow up in dysfunctional families and have no role models to follow the example of. A very thoughtfully written poem, Debbie.

    • Oh, Barbara, I’m right there with you! Our schools do a decent job teaching math, history, and so on, but most don’t do well at all in teaching how to get along in this world. How to balance a checkbook, how to disagree without being disagreeable, how to fold sheets (especially that bottom one with the elastic!), how to be kind, etc. etc. Lots of life lessons, huh?

  4. Thoughtful poem, Debbie, and it makes me wonder about family and the “shoulds” of family. And silence is definitely more difficult to deal with.

    • Robin, I do believe communication is preferable to silence … in most cases. However, I know too many people who beat a dead horse over and over again, trying to get their point across — kind of like the other person is completely clueless. Sometimes, we just need to call a truce, let the raw emotions settle down, and then revisit the subject (calmly) after a few days have passed and we’re not so ready to squabble.

  5. In the end family is all we have, and if we’re lucky we get through our lives knowing love and support that gets us through the tough times. But it’s not always that way of course. I’ve been lucky. My family and I are pretty tight, though we don’t see each other often. We know we can count on each other.

    • How wonderful, Dawn! Personally, our family has had more than its share over the years of drama. You’re lucky to know yours supports and loves you, even from far away.

  6. Sometimes I wonder if our families are designed to grow our karma, ha! Those challenges are at times so very hard! I remember my mother frequently exclaiming, “Lord, give me strength!” Man, I get that now.

  7. Excellent poem, Debbie – it’s often hard to decide when to be silent and when to let our anger out – both can be damaging! And as for families, it’s harder to break a family tie than a friendship but sometimes it’s better than going on and on in a relationship that is nothing but constant friction and hurt. The problem with family break-ups is that it’s almost impossible to avoid the person completely because of family functions and so on.

    • Thank you, my friend. Yes, sometimes it’s easier to avoid friends who are no longer friends — though that might mean avoiding places and others as well. But family is pretty hard to avoid — weddings, funerals, christenings, and so forth — unless you intend to swear off all family functions. Sigh. If we can’t get along in our families, how do we expect the entire world to get along?

  8. You’ve done a nice job of describing what so many families go through. Family can be a comfort and a support, but it can also be a place of anger, resentment and festering wounds. It’s not supposed to be that way, but sometimes it is, and I’m honestly not sure which is worse: punishing silence, or angry attacks. If only people could learn to disagree and yet still get along, and not impose our own values and expectations on others……

    • A “Live and let live” philosophy? Yes, I suppose that works. It’s certainly better than saying things that wound, things one can’t take back; and it’s better than the icing-out treatment, too. After all, without communication, how can we expect to resolve our differences? It’s not like we’re animals in the jungle, ha!

  9. I used to give my husband the silent treatment all the time. The reason I used that method is because my parents would always tell me off and all I could do is sit in silence. I’ve been married for 47 years now, and I’ve learned not to do that years ago. But like a few other commentors said, sometimes you have to remove even family members from out of your circle when necessary.

    No need to put up with bad behavior. It’s hard to give the silent treatment. I prefer not to do it. I hate conflict though!!! That’s why I used to use the silent treatment a lot. But now I just remove difficult people from my circle.

    I have found that the word family is not as important as it used to be. There are the good and the bad. I don’t have to put up with difficult people family. I’m too old now to put up with drama!!! I prefer to hang out with people who add to my life and not take away. I think this topic is a sore spot for many people. We all have been hurt by people!

    • Wisely said, Tanya! I do believe it’s a touchy subject. It’s hard to erase bad memories from our past, and it’s hard to not repeat them with others. How we grow up and deal with argumentative people has a big bearing on how we react as adults when similar situations arise. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your wisdom!

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