As I write this first sentence, I have no idea if I’m actually going to publish this one or not. If I do, well, then you will be reading it. If I don’t, I’ll have a place where I dumped a lot of thoughts. (Start to finish, this one took 4 days to write.)
When you grow up the least favored person in a household, you learn to put up barriers. Boundaries. Walls.
You learn to fight for what you want, and how to develop the most magical of force fields to protect you from ongoing snark, sarcasm, criticism and verbal onslaughts. It’s what you do to survive. You also learn to have a very very high tolerance for bullshit.
From the outside, I grew up in what looked like a pretty normal midwestern, middle-class household. Mom is the domestic diva, Dad the hard working construction guy, daughter, son + occasional labrador. From the outside, I’m sure everything looked awesome.
On the inside, it was a little different.
This is not to be an expose on something that wasn’t. It’s just an explanation (to myself mostly) of why I am the way that I am.
Some families speak to each other in kind ways, using warm words and positive thoughts.
Others are fueled by snark, sarcasm, cutting remarks and a drive to “knock you down to your place.”
I’m going to let you guess which of the two above I came from.
My family is different. Unto themselves. We don’t do the big holiday things. We don’t do the Sunday dinners with everyone. There is no “Dropping” in at my parents. Permission to visit must be requested well in advance. Hell, we live over 1700 miles apart, and barely see each other once a year. This year, I saw them for 2 hours in 390 days. Take from that what you will. I was told my sophomore year in college that it was too much work to come get me for Thanksgiving, so I might as well stay on campus. That was the last time I went home for Thanksgiving.That was easily one of the last times I ever went home. 20 years later, I think i’ve been there less than 10 times?
As a result of this, in 1997, I started to gather what would become my chosen family. A rag-tag conglomeration of people that actually liked me for me, not because, and I quote “we have to love you, you are family.” Ya, that’s what I heard a lot growing up- “We don’t have to like you, but we have to love you.”
When you are 20, you are filled with concepts, ideas and a developing ideology of the way that the world should be. Most of the time said ideology is either because of, or in reaction to, whence you came. For me, I developed a brand of tolerance, independence, and resilience, because I had to. If I didn’t figure shit out then, I was screwed. I didn’t have the luxury of failing and running home. There was not an easy soft place to land. So, I grew up really fast and had to figure a lot of things out. Along the way, I created this merry cast of characters that I consider my chosen family, and for the most part, most are still in my life.
ALL of this being said, I’ve developed an exceptionally high tolerance for putting up with stuff that a normal, functioning person would not be ok dealing with. When you are pretty much “on my own”- you cling to those who presumably care about you, and you fight to the bitter end to keep them around.
Which brings me to the point of this ramble. Sometimes you have to be ok cutting ties.
It’s hard for me to part with people, much like it’s hard for some people to part with money. I wish I could hoard money the way I hoard people, but that’s another story for another time.
I have developed a glorious circle of friends- coast to coast, north to south. These are my chosen people and I love the fact that they tolerate my existence enough to want to share a meal, conversation, etc. It’s nice to have someone want you around for more than 2 hours. Seriously. The alternative is less than.
I have learned that there is a season and a reason for everyone to come into your life, but I struggle with the part of letting them OUT of my life. See, here’s the thing. Even though I’m surrounded by people, I’m incredibly lonely. There, I said it. I look at my friends with their defined units and for the most part, I’m wildly jealous of what they have. BUT, I don’t always want to just plunk myself into someone else’s unit. I don’t know if that makes sense at all. I always appreciate inclusion and invitations, but at some point, it grows exhausting to be the “guest” or the “visitor” when you yourself have no defined unit. So, I hang on to the people that I’ve brought into my unit, just out of sheer stubbornness and unwillingness to be alone. However, at the end of the day, I do typically allow people to cycle out- I’m not Hannibal Lector after all, but I fight to the end to keep my unit together. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to others. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to me. But this is what I do. I fight to keep my people around, in some capacity for as long as possible, because no one has ever fought for me to stay. NO ONE.
There, I said it.
It is incredibly humbling, at the age of 40, to look back at your life, and realize that the majority of critical relationships- romantic and familial (excluding non-sexual friendships) have been ok to let you #byefelica yourself away to the next phase.
That is what it is.
But today, as I was pondering some interactions of late and trying to figure out if I made the right choices by walking away and/or closing down the doors, I realize it is ok to bail out, since I do not have to secure bail with a Hartford bondsman to be done cleaning up others messes or perpetually being the one to fix things. It’s also ok not to fight for attention or acceptance anymore. I’m done with the chase.
In other less rambling thoughts… I’ve always loved this song, but after listening to it today, I stopped and said out loud “WHAT ON EARTH DOES THIS SONG MEAN?”
I will say be careful about eying those of us with “units” as something to envy. Remember what you said above about what happens behind closed doors.
Ya, very, very true.