In The Mexican, an underappreciated little romantic comedy/crime adventure film starring Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, and James Gandolfini, two characters are asked the same question:
"If two people love each other, but they just can't seem to get it together, when do you get to that point of enough is enough?"
And the answer is:
I believe this to be true. For two people who love each other and who are in love with one another, there should never come a time when either or both of them stop trying to make it.
That is not to say that people who are miserable in a relationship should try to stick it out; far from it. But if one reaches the point where "enough is enough" then the love is no longer there and it is unfair for either partner to keep trying to breathe life into the relationship.
But I find myself wondering more and more of late how this applies to "non romantic" love relationships.
And when I ask myself the question in a different way, I'm not so sure anymore.
When the people we love are our parents or siblings or any familial relationship forged by birth or some other means, when do you get to that point of enough is enough?
For some, familial love trumps all other love, even the love between spouses, life partners, soul mates. If forced to choose between lover and family, family always wins.
And some, like me, put their partner and the family they create with their partner above all others. I would choose my husband and my children without question. They are my family now.
For many reasons, my relationship with my parents has deteriorated over the past seven years and they have disappointed me deeply. Yesterday I had a conversation over the telephone with my mother in which she said things to me I will never, never say to my own children. In my parents' eyes, I am the one who has disappointed, the one who is at fault. Their words have wounded me, have broken my heart, and I have cried so much that I'm surprised I have any tears left.
But yesterday, when I hung up the phone, I came to the sad realization that I no longer felt hurt or angry or sad.
I don't feel much of anything for them anymore.
Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel famously said, "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference..."
And so my love for them has become indifference. I have a husband and two beautiful sons who need me, who need all of me. Walking around all the time with a knot in my stomach and my mind occupied rehashing conversations with my mother or father, berating myself for what I should have said and rehearsing what I'll say next time is a waste of thought and energy and emotion. The only way I can move on with my life is to let it all go. I don't need to become estranged from them or perform a dramatic bridge-burning exit from their lives because we are at an impasse. Nothing will ever change. And I'm tired of struggling.
My answer, then, to the question of "When the people we love are our parents or siblings or any familial relationship forged by birth or some other means, when do you get to that point of enough is enough?" is simple.
Enough is enough when you no longer feel loved by them.