Imperfect Life

Left Out of the Picture

Recently I had a moment with my family that I can’t shake off. I can’t seem to get over. No matter how much I try to tell my self it doesn’t matter, I can’t help but feel it does.

My younger brother got married in January. It was a beautiful wedding. A wonderful night. The bride is a lovely person, inside and out and I’m thrilled to have her as a sister-in-law. I was so proud as I watched my brother see his bride for the first time. See his face light up and the emotion that went over it as she continued to walk towards him. My other brother was his best man, and I loved seeing the two of them, grown.

Fast forward to May. I was visiting with my parents as we always do on Mother’s Day and my two younger brothers wanted to show me their gift to our mother. It is a beautiful massive portrait of the family, well, minus my brother and I, our mother’s first two children. The portrait is of our mother, our father (I have only ever referred to him as my father and not step-father) my brother and his new bride and my youngest brother. The perfect family portrait. The ideal family they wish they could display.

The moment they unwrapped the portrait it felt like a sharp slap to the face. At the wedding, I tried to get my brother to have the photographer take a picture of the entire family (us first two kids included), and my brother frustratingly told me he didn’t want to, he was tired of taking photos, and he still had to do more with the bride’s family. He just wanted to get them over and done with. I was a bit hurt at the time, after all, you always do family portraits at weddings. Now, seeing the portrait and knowing he planned on giving one to our mother as a gift, it really hurts. Knowing he kept us out intentionally.

This is one of those moments where I feel utterly uninvited by my own family. Unwanted and unwelcome. I stood there staring at the portrait, trying to comprehend why they would think that I would be impressed or love it. I said something offhanded about the two of us that aren’t in it and was ignored. My father said something about us not having family portraits before and how he was happy to have one now. Happy to have one without two of us in it. The perfect family.

What hurts even more about this situation is that my mom didn’t even explain to my brother how it was inappropriate or rude. How it cannot be called a family portrait when family members are intentionally left out. She looked at it with pride. Her perfect family, without the blemishes. I felt like all the air was sucked out of me. How was it, that at 42 years old I could still feel so unwanted and unloved by my own family? I took care of my two younger brothers as though they were my own. I spent my teen years taking care of them rather than spending time with friends or going out. This was my reward? To be left out of the family portrait? Discarded as though I was nobody?

I’m frustrated on two levels. One that I am left out as if I am of no importance. That I was shown, I was left out with smiles and pride in what they did. Secondly, I am frustrated with myself that this still affects me. That after years of therapy, self-evaluation, and knowledge that the only love that should matter to me is God’s love, this still cut so deeply. As I stood there, I could feel me reverting to old habits of digging my nails into my palms. A habit I started so that I could feel in control of something I was feeling. I am frustrated with losing so much ground that I had made towards self-love and acceptance.

That loneliness of your own family, not wanting you cannot be explained in words. The pain of being left out by your own flesh and blood cuts so much deeper than being stabbed. The pain is breathtaking, heart-stopping and crushing. If your own family doesn’t want you, why would anyone else? If you aren’t any value to your own family, what value could you possibly hold for anyone else? If your own family doesn’t love you or respect you, why should you love and respect yourself?

These are the emotions I wrestle and deal with on a daily basis. These emotions make it difficult for me to go on job interviews. If my own family doesn’t want me, doesn’t choose me, why would this employer? These thoughts make it difficult to cultivate friendships. I begin a friendship and then start to wonder what they really would see in me. Eventually, they won’t want me either. Blood is thicker than water, isn’t it? If my blood doesn’t want me, why would this friend? I get severe anxiety just trying to make a phone call because I can’t fathom why the person on the other end would want to speak to me.

I thought I had done the work to overcome these feelings. I thought I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I thought I was close to emerging from the darkness, and just like that, see a portrait, being left out of the picture destroyed all the work I had completed on myself. I’m back to ground zero. I even asked God if He at least loved me.

God does love me though, this I do know. Deep down the knowledge of His love is rooted in me. I just have to begin nurturing that knowledge so it can grow and encompass me again. This emotional suffering is something He must need me to feel, in order to do His work and continue on the path He created for me.

Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into His grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:2-5

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  • TammySD; of Telling Hearts

    Oh dear sister, this hits so close to my home and heart. I have much experience dealing with exactly such rudeness with in family dynamics and I have a lot to say about it. I have not blogged about it, but would (for therapeutic purposes) really like to connect with you privately on this topic.

    It is not OK for you to have been treated that way. It WAS RUDE, and if they will not give you common courteous respect and good manners, then you at least have the right to stop investing in relationships that hurt. I am 53 years old, and I can tell you that the big thing (wonderful thing) about my 50s is that I finally QUIT hoping and caring how they relate to ME. I am more careful in my offerings and availability and in all I do not compromise. My guiding motto is, “It’s not about me, its about how I will honor them, my parents.” Beyond that, I do not expect much and I do not put myself out to invest in relationships where I have been treated tritely or disrespectfully.

    The Lord has enriched my life with others who DO treat me with loving kindness and consideration, and has broadened my realm of influence to mentor and love. I have more fertile ground to cast my seeds in, and that is what you dear sister, must look for.

    I will say that I know this has to be a move in your heart from God, because FOR YEARS my husband would observe the family dynamics and say to me, “I don’t know why you care so much,” when he saw that I was hurt and treated less than, by my own family over and over. FINALLY, God did something in my heart and I am FREE from the expectations, the pain, the worry…..

    I KNOW that my mother and sister have a problem towards me. God sent various CLOSE family members over the years to validate and support me, when I was hurt…… Finally, I am standing with out need for extra care or support. It truly is their problem and I will not enable them to treat me less than.

    It is freeing, and I pray this for you. I hope that you reach out personally. I blog at Grandma Mary Martha and Telling hearts. and

    WE JUST NEED TO DISCUSS THIS MORE… Bless you dear one. I want you healed from this hurt. It is their problem, and God wants to use you elsewhere. HE can and will make your life richer despite their foolishness.