Thursday was the Bears v. Packers game, their 199th meeting, and the start to the 100th anniversary of the NFL. Having spent the majority of my life in the Chicago area, I am a Bears fan, and will always cheer for them. I will never cheer for the Packers, in much the same way I will never cheer for the Cubs (Go White Sox!!!).

Living in the great northwest of Wisconsin, about an hour or so east of Minneapolis, I expected to see a lot of Vikings fans and their merchandise at stores; I was shocked to find out this is still very much Packers territory. We ran to the “big city” to do some shopping, and being game day, Little Man was in his “I watch the Chicago Bears with my Daddy” shirt. He got so many compliments on our adventure with Granma, and only one cashier asked why he was not in a Packers shirt. Squatch suggested that because Little Man was the only one wearing Bears paraphernalia, he was too cute to receive any negative comments.

In Chicago, rivalries run deep. The Bears and Packers is one of the biggest rivalries there is; I could never bring myself to root for the Packers, even if they are playing the Patriots, I just hope both teams lose. In Chicago, you are either a White Sox or Cubs fan, you are not allowed to be both. Cubs fans will not have anything to do with Cardinals fans. My husband will never be a Michigan fan (U of I alumnus). The list of rivalries just goes on and on and on.

Rivalries can be more personal though; how many rivalries have you seen within families or friend groups? Often, this type of rivalry is one-sided, where one individual does not even know what is going on. I have seen this happen, many times, where one individual perceives (often quite wrongly) someone else as a rival – for affection, for attention, in business, etc. The relationship soon turns toxic, as the one who had imagined this rivalry ignores, shuts out, or treats “the rival” with utter disdain. When this happens in a family, the perceived rival can be shut out, and distanced from the rest of the family due to the words and actions of the one who created the rivalry. The toxicity is not good for anyone, and once the perceived rival sees what is going on, s/he has the power to do something about it.

It can be confusing and hurtful when this happens, and the perceived rival goes through a grieving process at the loss of a relationship, or multiple relationships. One of the best ways I have found to deal with toxic relationships is to set strict boundaries in relation to seeing others in person and for communication in general. If it is possible to put physical space between you and the toxic person(s), that is even better, as the distance will help create the boundaries and ensure they are followed.

Anyone could be the rival: a parent, sibling, other relation, friend, acquaintance, or even a complete stranger. The closer to you they are, the more difficult it is to handle and try to remedy the situation. This is due to the emotions involved, which can be quite complex, especially if dealing with a toxic parent. Setting the boundaries is so incredibly important in this situation.

Rivalries can be petty (here’s looking at you, Bears and Packers) or they can be complex (parent and child), but whoever is party to the rivalry can find the best way to go on with their regular life, they just have to be willing to accept the consequences.

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