I love doing jigsaw puzzles. For me, it is the entire process. Picking out a brand new one based on the level of difficulty, the amount of pieces and the vibrant colours. I will wait for just the right day to start, making sure I have a few hours of free time. Breaking the seal on the box, tipping it over and allowing the pieces to spill onto the table in a jumbled mess. It is now my job to take this pile of mismatched chaos and turn it into a picture that everyone can recognize. All of these pieces must fit together in unison.
I make myself a huge cup of steaming hot tea and pile my hair loosely on top of my head. I realize the task ahead may require all of my concentration. I start with the outside edge pieces to form the border that will contain everything. Running my finger along the straight edge, it feels strong and sturdy. I ponder a thought. Are these pieces similar to the oldest generation in a family? The outer ring, keeping all inside together, safe, bound tight?
I take a short break and find a snack in the kitchen. One crack of the cupboard door and my eyes dart to some of my eleven year old son’s left over Halloween candy. I will eat it, and later blame is older brother. Back to the puzzle and my next stage. I now try to group all the remaining pieces into like piles based on similar markings and colour. Again I notice a pattern here within families. The strong outer ring, and the inner groupings of individual smaller family dynamics.
I spend hours, sometimes days manipulating these pieces to fit. I have been known to scour the table, the floor and the puzzle box for one particular piece knowing it must be the ONE to complete an area.
Have you ever been doing a puzzle and you are sure that you know a certain piece is going to fit. You find it, you try it and it is just a little askew. You try to force it and wiggle it, but it just doesn’t feel right. It can be a frustrating feeling, but you toss that piece back in the box and you go searching for the one that fits. You don’t berate that piece for not fitting. You don’t judge that piece for choosing to fit in somewhere else. You just allow it to fit where it is supposed to.
Being within the confines of family can be a difficult thing at times. What can be even more difficult is making the choice to remove a toxic family member from our lives. Much like that puzzle piece that doesn’t fit, we are conditioned to believe that family is forever and we need all the pieces to make that beautiful picture complete, period. Some families have a solid foundation, others do not.
What you need to remember is life is not a puzzle. Life is beautiful and meant to be lived happily. Most people forget that. So if you have someone in your life that brings you drama, negativity, pain, guilt, anger or grief. Someone who even at the mention of their name brings feelings of stress, you need to re-evaluate why they still have a place in your life.
You have a relationship built on blood, and that may be the only puzzle piece holding you together. They are family but that doesn’t mean they will always treat you with mutual love, respect and support. If this person manipulates you, talks poorly about you, if you lose your voice around them, if you do not trust them, if you fear them, and especially if they physically harm you, or emotionally or verbally abuse you – you need to remove yourself from this toxic relationship. When friends, loved ones or clients relay stories to me of the way they are being treated poorly by a family member, I always say two things. First, would you tolerate that from a co-worker or friend? Second, would you allow anyone to treat your child in that manner? If you answer no to either of those, you shouldn’t be allowing it to happen to you.
October 10, 2007 I removed my biological father from my puzzle. It took more courage than I knew I had. When you make a decision like this, it never just happens over night. It is a culmination of years of abusive and toxic behaviour, and one day you just decide it is enough. Toxic people do not like to be confronted. They will spin the situation and turn the light dark on you. Other family members will be told negative stories about you to keep this person from looking badly. They will rally the family around them. You may lose other family members in the process. You have to decide that your emotional well-being is worth it. That you love yourself enough. I woke up that morning and knew I would not waste one more day fearing that man. Not one more day would that man make me feel less than. Not one more day would that man make me feel like my puzzle piece had to fit within his borders. Every difficult day after that was bearable. The amazing, unchained and ridiculously happy days I have lived since then have been comparable to the brightest, biggest puzzle I have ever seen.
I have finished my son’s last mini chocolate bar with zero guilt. The puzzle is complete. People always ask me if placing that last, final piece is my favourite part. Surprisingly it is not. As much as I love the thrill of finishing a puzzle, I take great pleasure in freeing every last piece once again.
Always remember to love yourself enough to free your puzzle pieces. Your edges do not have to fit into any confined space.
Much Love ❤