The other night I was telling my roommate about working for my mom and how much I enjoy the time we’ve been spending together. She stood open mouthed, because she knows how difficult our relationship had been. I met Lesley through running and those types of conversations would come up.
Most times I would brush them off by saying, “Yeah, I don’t really talk to them much…” but eventually she got the story out of me. She agreed that it probably wasn’t the best idea to regularly see my family members, as it was toxic for me.
Recently, as I’ve mentioned, the relationships within my family, at least for me, have improved considerably. I now work for my mom and go to their house on a consistent basis. It is a cliche, but if you had told me this would happen a few years ago, I would have gotten mad and said NEVER. I would not have laughed, I would have gotten angry. It was that bad.
My roommate asked me what had changed. After giving her the surface level reasons:
“They are starting to understand me”
“I’m not angry anymore”
I thought about it on a more deeper level.
I decided to be unapologetically myself. I stopped seeing my hobbies and lifestyle as something I had to put a disclaimer on or defend. Those things simply are me and they come with the package. Making that mental shift for me released any pressure I had felt when being around my family. I used to think I had to have a reason I went on a run or a reason I was eating vegan cheese.
Of course, I had those, but I stopped needed to say them at every instance. I just did it. It became my normal. I accepted it as normal, finally, and now my family does too.
In years past, if my dad for example asked why I did a race or something, I would go into some long answer trying to explain every detail. Now, I simply say that it’s fun and I enjoy it.
When asked about why I eat the vegan chicken salad instead of regular, I just say I want to or I like it.
I wondered why I felt I had to explain every choice I made. The emotional, physical or spiritual significance when a simple “I like it.” is sufficient.
Sometimes I do expound upon my running adventures and, because it’s normal for me, it has become normal for my parents as well. Just yesterday, I sent my mom a picture of my finish line photo from Escarpment and she texted back:
“U don’t look too beat up yet.”
This was the picture as I held back tears and contemplated existence. She gets it, even if she would not want to do it.
We talk about food, weight (yes, even those issues) and basically most things. I feel so fortunate to have made it to this point with her and my dad. All I needed to do was normalize myself, feel confident in my choices, and things would start to fall into place. It’s not perfect, but really, imperfection makes life more interesting.