I missed my sister’s surprise 50th birthday celebration this year, not because I didn’t want to go, and not because I couldn’t go, but because my sister’s husband’s judgements, anger, and negativity of me prevented it from happening.
It’s no secret that he doesn’t like me much. After many years of me living a full life of recovery from my former addiction-fueled existence, he still can’t seem to see me beyond the mess I once was, when selfish addiction behaviors ruled my life. Instead of fully forgiving me for my past and seeing all the recovery work I’ve done to become a better person, he tends to still see me as a selfish addict, even though his own family has forgiven me and seen all the positive changes I’ve made to become a far more selfless person. It’s this very reason that led to the cancellation of my trip to surprise my sister for her 50th birthday.
Unfortunately, for someone who sees me in such a negative and judgmental light, it’s been next to impossible to prove to him I’ve changed, as was evident during the planning of this surprise birthday weekend. It began one Sunday afternoon when I received an email from him that said he was planning some surprises for her 50th and that he had booked a flight for me as part of the surprise using a combination of his money and frequent flyer miles. What he didn’t ask though was whether those dates and times actually worked for me, as I do have a life and health issues to consider whenever I’m making any sort of plans, especially to travel somewhere and on such short notice (two weeks out). Instead, he told me the flight was set and not changeable and only required of me to send him my full name and birth date to finalize the ticket. Ironically, I found out later that the other person he flew in, my sister’s best friend, didn’t receive the same treatment and instead was asked whether the flight date and times worked for her.
Nevertheless, when I called the airline later that night and asked if my flight was indeed not changeable, they said I actually could modify it and all I needed was to pay the difference if the switch made the flight more expensive. So, I modified the flight and ended up having a slight increase in price, which I paid for myself, that ultimately allowed for two things. One, transportation to and from the airport, as the previous flight times didn’t allow for that. And two, to arrive the evening before, so that I could take care of my health and do my normal spiritual routines the next morning to be more present mind, body, and soul for my sister.
Sadly, after notifying my sister’s husband of my changes, he cancelled my flight, told me not to come, and said I was selfish, even though none of my changes would have affected his plans, nor had I asked him to accommodate me any differently. When I booked my own flight after that, using none of his funds or miles, it only led to him becoming even more angry when he found out. He told me in a very unsettling phone call that I wasn’t welcomed in his house again, and that he’d be filled with so much animosity if I chose to still show up on my sister’s surprise 50th birthday weekend that she wouldn’t have a good time. That call ended with him hanging up on me in the midst of me attempting to work through the situation.
I’ve spent my whole life caving into bullies just like this, but I stood my ground and emailed him to say I was still coming, as this was about my sister and not him. That only led to him ruining my part of the surprise two days before my flight was leaving, as he told her I was coming and convinced her they would be busy until the end of the weekend. Because of this, she asked me to cancel and reschedule to a future date where she could spend more time with me. I did my best to suggest he wasn’t telling the truth and that there was more going on beyond what he was saying on her birthday weekend. Unfortunately, she became overwhelmed and said she couldn’t handle the anxiety this was causing her, and asked again for me to reschedule to a future date, of which I did, solely because I know my presence at that point would only have led to his animosity of me hurting her even more.
While I very much struggled with sadness throughout her 50th birthday weekend because it triggered some old childhood issues, I struggled more with sadness knowing how much my sister didn’t have the birthday weekend she originally asked for and deserved. Regrettably, she’s still living in the same pattern we both did with our mother, someone who controlled our very existence, who limited our ability to be ourselves, and rarely saw us in the love and light we deserved.
Regardless, while there’s a good chance my sister’s husband may never accept me with the unconditional love and light of Christ like my sister and my nephews do, I will continue to pray that one day he still might, where he no longer allows anger, resentments, judgments, and control to dominate his life and hurt others in the process.
As for me, I decided to set a boundary and not spend time around him anymore. I realized how unhealthy it is for me and my sister. And although I’ve forgiven him for this and all the pain he’s brought upon my life, I won’t allow myself to be treated again in the way he has, the same way I used to allow myself to be treated by my Mom and so many others.
And as for my sister, I want you to know how much I love you and wish I could have spent your surprise 50th birthday weekend with you, but I understand why I couldn’t. One day I’m convinced you will find your inner voice to stand up for what you truly need, for what you truly want, and for what you truly deserve…including having any birthday exactly as you wish, and seeing your brother whenever you want as well.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson