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Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Family View

While visiting with my family recently, I was struck by a few things. I have lived independently from my family for almost six years now, and the four years before that I was only intermittently at home. When I first moved out, I saw them frequently - once or twice a week since I was living in the same city. That frequency has dwindled quite a bit, and now I only see my family on rare occasions, maybe once or twice a year. Since I left Birmingham, I have grown up a lot, as you would hope a person would in such a number of years. I know I have grown very independent, but more importantly, I think I have grown very much as a person. I think I am much more capable of taking things in stride these days, of letting hurtful encounters go without inflicting permanent scars, and I think I am much better at dealing with those around me than I was when I left home. My parents view me as I was when I used to live with them, almost ten years ago now. During my recent visit, I found myself doing two things. The first was I found myself, in some ways, reverting back to my old self, because that is what my family expected of me. The other thing I found myself doing was trying to convince my parents, who see me as the 17-year old I was when I left home, that I am not the same person I used to be, that I have grown up a lot during my time away. They know this, but I think because they don't see me on a regular basis, they have a hard time really viewing me as an adult. Throughout the visit, these struggles made me realize a few things about how we act with our families and how it is different than how we act with anyone else. I found that my family knows me both more intimately, and the least intimately, than anyone else I know. Because they have know me since I was born, they do know me better than anyone else does. They know which buttons to push to upset me quicker than anyone else, and they know how to calm me and what to say instinctively. But because there is so much history there, they have an extremely hard time seeing me as I am now, and not as a child. And because they have seen me at my very worst more than anyone else, they also have an impression of me imprinted that is not who I feel I am seen as by the majority of those around me. I have a friend who says we revert back to being children when we are with our families. I think she is right. It is hard being a child when I am used to being an adult. It is hard having parents treat me like I am my former self, who (I hope) I have grown out of. But it is nice to have someone who has seen you at your absolute worst, and have them still love you, and take care of you. Family is really hard sometimes, but it is good to know they are there.


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