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

Not your circus.

Not your circus. 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.”

“If you don’t own the circus, they’re not your monkeys”.

(This is an older post but I think it bears repeating. My mother-in-law has since died but the family has survived. )

circus theme party/not your cirus

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 that 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 a relative to reign.

But I didn’t.

My mother-in-law is now in 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, and at the beginning of our relationship, they considered me responsible for that. However, he had parted with his Catholicism long before he met me. They just didn’t know it.

not my circus

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 were a lot of very good reasons I could have done 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.

family dynamics and the circus

So as I watched the family dynamics, I was aware 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 can honestly say, I am very happy for her, and wish her nothing but happiness in 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.

There is still that “one” in this 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.

always a choice how we respond

It may be 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 always walk away.”

I often remind myself of this as well because I like to help people process and work through issues and find it highly satisfying.

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

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

We choose our peace

I know there are some of you who find this concept hard to digest. Hey, I did, too. For years, I let other people’s 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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