An interesting topic of discussion came up the other day as I talked to a friend about his relationship with his brother, and how it got tangled up over the holidays. A family brouhaha is not uncommon, especially in high stress times which holidays often are. For me, the right side of this conflict was not easy to find, hence becoming the subject of this blog.
My question concerns friends, not one’s own children, but really, all gifts should be given unconditionally, right? I find it easy to give love unconditionally, but here’s the rub. If my efforts toward another person are not reciprocated by that person, there comes a point when I give up. I don’t regret the past gifts or time I’ve given, and I totally understand circumstances that prevent the same kind of gift being returned. I’m not talking about charitable giving, I’m talking about friendship. What I want, I guess, is acknowledgment that I mean something to that person. I want to know they value me, as I do them. It seems natural to me, that in a mutual relationship, both sides want to give, care for, pray for, and lean on each other when the need arises.
So, when is a person supposed to quit? Are they supposed to quit if the relationship is one-sided? Somewhere out there is the point where you get taken advantage of; I don’t want to go there. I like the sound of unconditional giving, but sooner or later, when nothing comes back, I give up. Is that wrong?
Back to the original problem. Family is a whole different dimension. The problem usually boils down to lack of communication. It certainly did in my friend’s instance. I asked him if the situation could have gotten any worse than it did, if he had simply told his brother what made him uncomfortable, and why he didn’t want to be at the family gathering. He thought he was doing the right thing by going, but then the brouhaha came out of his resulting poor attitude from the fact that he had gone. All manner of past grievances got aired after that. Oh Brother – literally. Communication – I don’t believe you can name anything more challenging between human beings.