10,000 Hours - Hour 360
Family is really hard.
Like really hard.
I have been struggling to deal with family issues for my entire life. It hasn't always been the prettiest history- we essentially didn't speak for a very, very long period of time. Maybe several periods. It's all kind of a blur.
Last year my father was diagnosed with cancer. He has undergone several operations since and, well, to put it childishly his health is on the rocks. As a result, I have tried to reconnect with them and become more part of the family.
These efforts have been met with a fair amount of resistance though. And a strange kind of resistance at that. I am "wanted" by my family- however it seems they want some sort of generic version of myself and not who I actually am. I am almost 30 years old, and my family still acts like I'm going through some weird phase and that if my decisions don't align exactly with what they want from me- well I can get fucked.
There were two specific instances/conversations that triggered a lot of deep though and have caused me to spend the last 6 weeks deeply analyzing my relationship with my family and how it has shaped me and inhibited me throughout my life. Since a young kid I was always told that I couldn't be who I wanted to be. Any small hint of individuality was met with "you can't do that- you can't look like that- you can't dress like that- you can't talk like that" and the infamous "because everyone is going to laugh at you". I never thought this was meant to me malicious or harmful in any form but, obviously, it was. Even as I got older, I wasn't allowed to wear my normal clothes and be seen with the family. Even family dinners, my father would force me to wear his clothes instead of my own. I think they were under the impression they were helping me and didn't understand I liked being who I was.
About 6 weeks ago I got a tattoo that might be seen as intense to many people. I woke up to a phone call from my sister about how I had to cover it in front of her children, how I needed to call my father and apologize, and she somehow managed to bring guilt about my father's health into the mix. "We just got good news about Dad's health, and now this?" As if my personality was some sort of insult to our family.
Throughout the conversation she urged me that I needed to call my father like I had to admit something to him. That he was upset and well, he was. It was the most obnoxious phone call I've ever had. It discouraged me from seeing my family during the holidays and has created a weird paradox of wanting to be closer with my family while they are simultaneously saying that my individuality doesn't really fit into what they want me to be. I guess I just finally accepted that they will never accept me for who I am and there's no point in me dwelling on that anymore.
Several weeks ago, I posted a video of myself snowboarding on Instagram. The video was more or less a placeholder to let myself rant about some personal issues I've overcome. The message was very honest- including some things many don't know(such as myself being institutionalized last year for a brief period). However, the message was clearly positive- it was about dealing with issues and working past self image issues, mental health, etc. It was undeniably positive and I got a lot of positive outreach.
However, of course, my family felt the need to take it another way. They asked to Facetime me- and made it sound like a fun, innocent, catching up call. Once on the call, they read to me a letter that essentially said "you are handling your problems our way or you are no longer part of the family". They are putting me in several programs and leaving me with no option- it's either do as they see fit for me or I am no longer part of my family.
I know the obvious right decision- cut ties and be myself. But I can't bring myself to do that. As if I never learned a lesson, I'd rather suffer through things that do not work for me and have a shallow, almost hollow, family than willingly cut ties with them. Especially because they do mean well. And especially with my father's health.
The point of this was not to complain about my family issues though. I want to stir up some thoughts on individuality and the way others perceive you in case anyone is having these problems. I know for a fact I would be a much more confident and successful person had I never let these things bother me as much as they have. Which is ironic because I believe the only reason I was ever told I couldn't be myself was for the possibility of being successful. I wouldn't trade my individuality for the world and neither should you. Love yourself, and if others don't love you for loving yourself, maybe they aren't worth it.
"Practice what you preach". I can't. But I think it's a good rule to live by.
On another note, snowmaking has ended, so I believe I'm gonna have a lot more time to write. I have had plenty of time recently that I've wasted, to be honest- mainly due to the rigamarole of manic feelings and confusion this past few months have instilled in me. I always say it, I never do it, but I think I'm back to being myself.
Be you <3
I promise these aren't always gonna be my sad sack rantings. I am hoping to write more fiction and positive, motivational pieces soon