Game of Thrones and human history have one thing in common; life is just one damned thing after another. But there is something else that may not seem so obvious; they contain lots of instances of family members betraying one another. The fact is that “blood is not thicker than water” as the adage proclaims. Being related by blood is not the strongest human bond there is.

All betrayals are painful. Finding out your boss didn’t talk you up for the promotion you wanted, or discovering your best friend made a pass at your romantic partner are emotionally disappointing and agonizing events. But the greatest heartache comes when a close family member—spouse, brother/sister, parent, etc.—betrays you. This is because it is so unexpected.

Society’s teachings about family are inaccurate 

My parents taught that a person’s greatest responsibility was to the immediate family. Followed by one’s responsibility to extended family members. Their favorite dictum was; “Friends come and go, but family is forever.”

I know many families who have grown up with this belief, but it is not accurate or true.

I learned this early in my childhood when our family was torn apart by the desperate attempts to leave Castro’s Cuba and start life anew as immigrants to the United States. Family members (grandfather, aunts, uncle and cousins) in Miami were so preoccupied with their lives, they didn’t have the time to look in on the three little boys (my two brothers and I) that had been sent to an orphanage far away in Colorado.

By the time my parents were able to leave Cuba and reunite our family, I no longer had a sense of connection to my extended family. Friends became more valuable than those related to me by blood.

Are you obligated to maintain a relationship because the person (s) is your blood relations?

The answer is no. It would be foolhardy to continue to trust a blood relative who persistently betrays you. This is clear from Game of Thrones and from human history.

The only people you should feel connected to are those who support you in becoming your true self and have your back while you are trying to do so. Period!

So, how should you treat family members who have hurt you?

You don’t live inside their skin to know what motivated their actions. For all you know, they may believe their actions were proper, so don’t hate them. This doesn’t justify their bad deeds, it is important to understand the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior, but accepting the possibility they were doing the best they could helps you attain a less judgmental mindset. Besides, letting go of hate is good for you. You cannot hold joy in your heart as long as you hate someone.

On a practical matter, however, don’t allow them the opportunity to hurt you any further. Stay away from them if you have to and do it for as long as it takes for them to change their behavior towards you, even if that is your mom, dad, brother, sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.

Remember, people can change and that gives you some hope you can recover a connection with a family members. But you cannot open your heart and home to them until they show true remorse followed by a permanent change in their actions. Even then you must proceed with caution.

As always, wishing you a life filled with joy, love and serenity.

Photo by David Taffet on Unsplash