Respecting people’s privacy means respecting the fact that (a) not all times will be opportune ones for a visit, and (b) they are not obligated to explain that to you in the moment just because you’re on their front stoop. In a recent column, Carolyn Hax offered the perspective above when a mother-in-law was upset that her son and daughter-in-law didn’t answer the door when she dropped by unannounced. Her response really focused on the concept of privacy and the misplaced entitlement that some put on access to other people’s time. This is a huge, ongoing concern of mine, and one that I’ve spent a great deal of energy over many years trying to subtly address without starting World War 3. I need my privacy/solitude and will go to the ends of earth to protect it. This tends to be at odds with how the rest of the world operates, but it’s a walk I’m willing to take. Most people in my life understand and respect my introversion and how that impacts my ability and willingness to engage with people. It’s taken a lot of time and conversations, but I’m fairly confident that they understand it’s not you, it’s me. Usually that’s […]
In Part 1, I reflected on my tendency to rationalize around my happiness. In Part 2, I talk about how I changed. So after all of the reflection on my life, I realized that my happiness was my problem, and mine alone. I had to resolve to figure out how to make myself happy. I didn’t know what the hell it was that would make me happy, but I knew that only I could figure it out because I don’t think it’s acceptable to expect someone to give me something I can’t give myself. And frankly, I think it’s unfair to put the burden of my own happiness, mental health, etc. on another person. What makes the difference in my happiness is my choice to make my life fulfilling for me, regardless of the different factors I faced on a day-to-day basis. I’ve always had a mix of the things I felt I needed to consider myself established, content, and even happy, albeit not always at the same time. However, until now, I didn’t stop to think critically about their purpose in the grand scheme of my life. I seriously think a switch was flipped and it was like “Look, you have […]
Recently, I was having a conversation with someone about my family. In describing my parents, I referred to my biological father as my “real dad,” something I picked up as a kid when I became a part of a blended family. After using the term a couple of times, the person I was talking with stopped me and casually asked me to “please use biological.” I was caught off-guard and quickly apologized, realizing I could easily have offended them. Externally, I just kept relaying my story with the appropriate term. Internally, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I was mortified. If I could have crawled under a rock, I would have. I felt so small and simple-minded in that moment and couldn’t believe that someone I respected quite a bit caught me in a moment of ignorance. I consider myself a fairly progressive person. Perhaps because of my career field (student affairs), I am hyper-sensitive to issues of identity and inclusion and the language associated with them. So why, for nearly 30 years, had I thought that “real” was an appropriate way to describe a parent-child relationship?
It never fails that every six months or so, someone who knew me from my days as a journalism student prods me to get back into the field. Their arguments always run like this: “You’re such a good writer. You should really consider it; it would be so easy for you.” “But don’t you miss it? The research, the interviewing … creating the story?” “Why’d you get a degree in it if you’re not going to use it?” The truth is, I do miss it. I miss writing with a purpose. The only writing I do these days are blogs and even then, it’s only when I’m in turmoil. I would love to write about things that have little or nothing to do with me, my feelings, and my experiences. And I really miss the writing process, especially the editing. That was always the part I enjoyed most: going back to a piece with fresh eyes, looking for some detail or insight I left out that the reader(s) wouldn’t get anywhere else.
I was reading someone’s blog and they said What I’m upset about is that this day should matter to someone else just as much as it does to me. … I’m feeling disappointed in the people around me, but it’s displaced anger. I’m not mad at them. This cross isn’t theirs to bear. I wish they were a little more supportive and a little more intuitive about how I might be feeling, but they’re all doing the best they know how to do. It immediately made me think of how I feel about Dave’s death and how sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who still grieves. It makes me question myself, wondering if there’s something wrong with me that I can’t seem to get past it. And it often borders on resentment. I resent that they act like they don’t miss him, that they don’t feel like his death was unfair, that he’s just a bygone memory. And I believe they all have those feelings, but … are mine more intense? Maybe I just let mine bubble to the surface more.