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?
I’m a junky for online advice columns. Carolyn Hax ranks in my top 5, and what I read today made me sad for humanity. In the question “Family ties cause friction,” a woman expressed her concern over her mother doting on her stepbrother’s children. “Disrespected” is in a relationship and neither she nor her partner want to have/raise children. That pretty much means her mother won’t have biologtical grand-kids anytime soon. “Disrespected” is offended that her mother dares to treat her stepson’s children as her own grand-kids and make no fuss about the lack of blood relationship. Instead, she goes on, saying “Am I right to feel resentful? I mean, they aren’t actually her grandchildren at all. Shouldn’t she explain that they are technically the children of her husband’s children?” My answer in short: No and no. You need to grow up.
This morning I was having a discussion with a colleague about their uneasiness at being the “bad guy” in an impending break-up and the looming prospect of divying up mutual friends. Part of the conversation dealt with how to manage joint events where under normal circumstances both would be invited — but also recognizing that a joint-invite was just that: a joint-invite. Eventually the conversation circled back to how to manage the neutral friends (the ones who don’t initially side with one ex or the other) and how much effort you put into maintaining or building a relationship with them. It made me reflect on the break-ups I’ve had in the past and how much I grapple with the fair and reasonable division of people, places, and things. Actually, I don’t. I don’t like having anything become mutual in a relationship because if/when things go south, I want to be able to live my life without that person being around as they live theirs.
Let me go. I’m not promising I’ll come back soon, but I’m not leaving forever. Sigh. I’ve been feeling strange the last few weeks, and I couldn’t quite place the origin of my angst. I posted about it a few days ago, wondering why a passage from They Cage the Animals at Night was hitting me so hard. I’ve finally accepted that I’m on the brink of what could be the most significant time of transition I’ve experienced since 2007, when I started grad school and had COM. Now, I’m leaving the university and embarking on …. the unknown. No job is solidified, only what I hope are some really, REALLY solid leads. All I know is that come July 1, my life will forever change. I just hope it’s for the better.