When it’s not your circus and they’re not your monkeys

If I had to give someone a sage piece of advice about relationships, I would say:

“Don’t get caught up in drama that isn’t yours.”

“Don’t’ go to the circus; they’re not your monkeys”.

I guess that’s two statements, but they’re the same philosophy.

These past few days have been hectic around here  My mom died a little over a year ago. I was fortunate. There wasn’t a lot of drama or conflict surrounding her last days, the funeral, etc. Oh, there could have been. There could have been lots of it if I had allowed my very justified feelings of resentment about some people reign.

But I didn’t.

My mother-in-law is going through the active stages of dying. There are very specific stages. It started, as it most often does, with a hospital visit and then a transfer to a Hospice facility. We weren’t close but as she aged, I made peace with the past and can honestly say I grew to appreciate her.  My husband has not been close to his brothers and sisters, mostly because he is the only non-Catholic among them, which in the beginning they considered me responsible. However, he had parted with his Catholicism long before he met me. They just didn’t know it.

There has been a lot of dysfunction in that family and it all came to the surface. But it wasn’t my circus and it wasn’t my monkeys. So I got to observe. And it was fascinating.

I am happy to say that many misunderstandings were actually resolved. And when it comes to the visitation and the funeral, everyone is in agreement. But as I watched:

I realized how resentment over the past will completely destroy one’s present happiness. 

In fact, I would say resentment is one of the greatest happiness “stealers”. And I should know.

For years, I let resentment over my past eat into my happiness. And believe me when I say, there was a lot of very good reasons I could do that. It wasn’t a happy childhood. It was one fraught with violence and trauma. And it took me a long time to work through it all.

So as I watched I knew that one particular person was having to do what I had to do and I felt a kinship with her.  It surprised me as we have certainly not had a good relationship in the past. But I was so glad for her.

It was like I was watching a Hallmark movie with a happy ending. It was a really good feeling.

And can I say, it was cathartic for me as well.  I felt grateful that I had worked through my demons early on and that my adult years with my parents were wonderful. This person did not get to experience that.  But she has made some peace with herself now and I think that will spare her some regrets. I sincerely hope so.

I can honestly say, I am very happy for her and I wish her nothing but happiness for the future. I would even go so far as to say that I wouldn’t mind a cup of coffee with her in the future. I would like to know what she resented me.

There is still that “one” in the family that will prove to be a problem. That isn’t going to change. But it won’t affect me and it probably won’t affect my husband.

It may yet to prove a circus but we don’t own the “monkeys.” We can watch and leave the drama with those who choose to engage in it. And if you remember nothing I’ve written today,  remember this:

“We always “choose” to enter into the drama. We can almost always walk away.”

I often remind myself of this as well. I am a natural problem-solver. I like to help people process and work through issues. I find it highly satisfying.

I started blogging because I wanted to help people. I write posts like this one for that reason. And because of my personal history and my involvement with many people in a counseling typesetting, I’ve been witness to a lot of “stories”. I can state with one hundred percent certainty that;

the people who carve out their happiness despite their trauma are those who choose to get over their past. They choose their happiness.

I know there are some of you who find that hard to digest. Hey, I did, too. For years, I let other people actions decide my peace. But when I read about people whose stories were far worse than mine and how they lived successful, happy lives anyway, I realized that they had made peace with their past. They had chosen to move on with their lives. I made that same conscious choice.

That’s our choice every day.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.


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4 replies »

  1. Thank you for the kind remarks. She passed away peacefully this morning. My husband was at her bedside. All is going extremely well. God bless.

  2. I work with families of the elderly who are in a sick, crisis, or dying stage- daily. One thing that has been a constant is the dysfunction of families is magnified during that time. So many factors at play- emotion, coming to terms with mortality, money, varying religious viewpoints, opinions on what’s best for mom… the list goes on.
    It’s interesting to see; very few families handle their elderly loved ones with no drama. My heart goes out to you, & I hope the hospice facility is taking good care of her. Being her advocate is the most important piece of it all- if you can all agree on that, it’s a good first step. Hugs & prayers!