I’ve been thinking lately that it’s time for me to open up a little more online. I’ve experimented here and there with sharing my feelings on current events or talking about loss, but I want to start doing it in a more overt and intentional way. And yes, I really do think this way all the time — I analyze the potential risks of everything before I do it. Opening up the way I want to do feels like a big risk, so I’m going to do an experiment. Once a month, I’ll write a post about what’s going on in my head. It won’t be to teach a lesson or prove a point but just to share. Hopefully sometimes it’ll be light and funny, but sometimes like today it will be more serious.
So here’s what’s up with me right now.
When I go home is the only time I feel less than good enough. I’m the type of person who’s ready to simply walk away from anyone who wants to judge me. I don’t need your approval, and I decline to explain myself. Except when it comes to my family. I have finally recovered from a 10-day trip to visit my friends and family in the south, and I’m trying to deal with the mental fallout from it all.
It’s hard to describe how much my family members mean to me — we’re definitely one of the closest families I know — but I often compare myself to them and find myself lacking. Next to my sister, who is petite and pixyish even after having a baby, I feel awkward, clumsy, and wildly unattractive. My oldest brother is a doctor, taking over the family business, raising three kids of his own, and living in a gorgeous brand new home. Custom built, of course. Next to him, I feel childish, irresponsible, and slobbish. My other brother is kindof like a male version of me. We understand each other pretty well, and I don’t feel bad when I’m around him, even though we haven’t always gotten along. Still, I think all my siblings accept each other and me. We all want to see each other succeed and be happy no matter what. Our parents, however, are a different story. They want me to be happy, but I think they want it to be on their terms. Every time I go home, I think they wish I would stay. They wouldn’t blink twice if I called them right now and asked to move back into my old room.
My oldest brother’s first kid was born before I moved out, and my parents immediately became involved in helping to raise the grandkids. They skipped right over being empty-nesters, and I don’t think it ever occurred to them to let go the apron strings from their kids — especially me. When I was in college, my dad would often say, “We’re not done raising you,” because they were still paying my tuition and helping me in a lot of ways. But now? I’m not convinced that they ever stopped “raising” me, even though I grew up. To be a happily married 30-year-old woman and visit your family only to be treated like an 18-year-old who got caught playing house is extremely unpleasant.
I know what you’re thinking — I should be having this conversation with my parents and not my blog. That’s what adults do. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past two weeks, it’s that my family isn’t perfect, and they’re not going to be. Repeatedly asking them to change hasn’t brought me any comfort yet, nor has explaining myself, justifying myself, and shouting, “I’m a grownup, damnit!”
On our way home, my husband asked if I planned to call my parents about all the emotional stuff that came up during our visit. I was exhausted, so I decided to give myself some space before reaching out again. I went back to teaching yoga classes. I tried to get on a normal writing schedule. I hung out with friends and engaged in some serious self-care. And gradually, I remembered that this is the life I chose. I am the person I’ve chosen to be, and I really, really like it. I have a good life full of people I love who love me back, who treat me with respect, who inspire, challenge and accept me. I made this life myself, and I’m proud of it. But it’s not for my parents to put up on their fridge. It’s for me.