I have been at war lately with my feelings about family. At 35-years-old, you would think I would be comfortable being myself and not caring what other people think. Wouldn’t it be nice if all those memes on being strong and brave were true?
However, for me, the truth is, I still care what some people think. Not all, but some. Especially my family. For most of my adult life, I have turned to my family when I needed advice or direction. Even though I was married and had children, I valued their opinions a lot. Sometimes I valued them more than my own opinions. It was a bad position to put myself in because as time went on, my opinions started to differ a lot from theirs.
I have always been very headstrong about how I raise my kids, and I do not like people coming in and telling me otherwise. No, I don’t live the most traditional life. I never have. We have always had roommates and extended family. It is just who we are.
Recently my mental health has not been in the best place. I have suffered from a lot of depression, anger, and anxiety which has caused me to pull away. Some of this is because the choices I have made lately in my life do not coincide with the perfect life my family saw me having. Because of this, I have been dealing with an even stronger desire to pull away. Let's face it, if they don't like the life I have chosen to live then they don't need to be a part of it.
While I understand they are just worried about my well-being, it really has been causing more harm than good. It has also caused them to become more hateful and disrespectful. It seems to be the whole “you're screwing up your life and need tough love” act or something along those lines. They want nothing to do with my life. They don't listen when I tell them things such as “yes, I'm getting a divorce, but we are both still living with the kids 'cause we work well together.” And then they started telling me how to raise my children.
Did I mention that I hate being told how to raise my kids? Sure, helpful advice is nice now and then when asked for or warranted, but this was hateful, insinuating that my kids have lived in trauma and that I don't teach them basic things like how to eat at a table. My house doesn't have room for a formal table but that doesn't mean I don't teach them. We pull out a folding one for dinner all the time.
Sure my kids, like all kids, have had ups and downs in their lives, but even they wouldn't say they were traumatized.
No, it just goes back to that hateful disapproving stance on my life. I'm not conservative enough, I don't go to church enough, I don't follow the manual of the white picket fence society. (For the record, I grew up in a more liberal non-church-going home. My parents just changed their position in things as they got older.)
Needless to say, visiting family is no longer the happy, peaceful experience it once was. Now it is something that often fills me with dread. When I am there, I stay in a constant state of anxiety and don't sleep. So I have decided that it is time to let go. They can accept that I live my life the way I have chosen and that my kids are happy living in their big extended family full of love with parents who want nothing more than for them to be happy and healthy… or they can judge me from afar. But I am tired of trying to live up to a standard even they never achieved. It isn't human and it isn't healthy. I need to work on my being healthy physically mentally and spiritually.