Yesterday was one of the best I have had in a really long time. A day that made me remember how it feels when you are seen by people who love you. My sister and her family came to visit me for the day (we are separated by a ferry ride that costs far too much to see each other nearly as frequently as we would like). We spent the day doing touristy things, being outside and just enjoying happy family time.
In recent years, I have felt my sister and I drift apart – there are many reasons: distance, my all consuming relationship, the eating disorder, her busyness with two kids, two pets and a husband. All have contributed. I am sad to think how easily it happened. How we both know how much we care about one another and yet other “things” got in the way of holding that sacred.
My family has always been important to me while also being a source of insecurity. I have always admired those who freely embrace and pronounce their family ties. I, on the other hand, have felt embarrassed by how much I needed them and how large a role they play in my life. My bias is always to believe that I am somehow flawed and that my experiences are “nerdy” or “weak”. After all, the North American goal is independence and self sufficiency, right? So how could I allow for any flaws in that armour?
That self doubt crept into even the one place where I knew I was valued and loved and tainted the safe haven that family could be. I could not separate myself from the views of my parents, or my sister. At the same time, I was trying to be the person I thought I should be for my friends and peers. Running in tandem with all of this was some ideal self that I snatched from fairy tales and magazines.
I attempted to distance myself from my family because I didn’t know my own voice. It was easier to hide than to try to sort out how to be the “right” person.
The reality is so far from my past perception. My family provided me with strength. As I am growing, I am learning and embracing the support and love they give me. I am also learning that their voices, either as a collective or as individuals within, are not MY voice. Since I am just learning to tune into that voice, it can be hard for me to tune in to myself. I believe it is more important than ever to do so, though. In learning to trust myself, I am better able to turn towards the people who love me while not losing my sense of self identify.
I am grateful that I am learning this lesson. Learning, slowly, to use my voice and trust that those who hear it, will continue to love me BECAUSE it is my voice – over time I will learn to see my true self as worthwhile and loveable, just as they do.