I won’t go into great detail about why I was in my parent’s presence recently, but I will tell you the uncanny similarities and utter differences between us.
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It doesn’t matter who you are, or how much you do or don’t like your parents, this is a true statement. It is inevitable- biologically, environmentally, situationally, and socially, you have been exposed to and absorbed a vast range of intangible nuances and idiosyncrasies that partially define who you are. I like the word partially because really, no matter what you are taught, you can always choose differently. But alas, some traits are so minor and harmless there isn’t any point exercising all of your energy on trying to change every damn thing. I’ve spent the last few years just changing the things that I hate.
But lets start with the silly stuff. Like how I have a crazy need to have back ups. I keep gym sneakers long after they are dead and flat. Just in case what?? I break my current pair?? I actually said out loud once that I have a few pairs in reserve just in case I want to do one of those mud runs, so that I can just bin them at the finish line. As if I would let that nasty dirt and grime touch my skin for one second! Well, guess who has closets and closets full of “spares” and hates getting their hands dirty? My mother.
How about if I’m required to sit still for any more than 22 seconds and my legs start bouncing uncontrollably like the energy from the core of my body is going to shoot straight out of my knees and feet?? I don’t have that much energy to spare, people. I spend all my energy at the gym and get about half the sleep I really need. Who do I know that shakes uncontrollably and has even been seen rocking back and forth like an autistic person while under a lot of mental stress? Other than my brother… and me… My father.
What about when there is more than even 1 sock in the laundry basket and I have a fierce compulsion to wash that shit! I cannot stand it, I tell you. Dirty laundry is not something that I handle like a sane person with good time management skills. It has to be done right now. Even if I am supposed to be on my way to the dentist. This could be learned behavior but because my mother grew up in a chinese laundromat (I kid you not) I am going to just go ahead and say it’s genetic. Compulsions this strong have got to be biological.
So, having shaky knees, extras of everything, and clean laundry are really not a big deal. I like it actually, and other than totally annoying G when the entire kitchen table is shaking right along with my legs, they are good things. I’m working on the shaking because honestly it can be a little bit scary. The rocking back and forth like a kid with aspergers is unbecoming. If you’ve never seen me do this, congratulate me on concealing it well. I’m honestly trying.
What is worthwhile to spend time and energy changing? I’ve heard many times that the things that bug you the most about other people are really the things that you inherently dislike about yourself. Maybe that’s true only some of the time, maybe all of the time. But, when I observe my parents’ behavior, I know why I spent the past 5 or so years breaking out of that cycle to become a real live girl. I’ve spent some time talking about growing up suppressing emotions. When you don’t have them, you assume others don’t either. So, your unfeeling self never even thinks to ask how anyone else is feeling. Why would they be feeling anything ever? Not only is it a total shame and a waste of life to go through it without feeling things to their maximum intensity, it’s also totally rude to never bother to ask others how they are feeling! *ding ding ding* lightbulb! I’ve lived for more than 30 years and my parents have never once asked me how I feel. About anything. Ever. Ever. I mean EVER! How totally f*ing weird is that??? And you know what happens when I ask them how they feel? They clam up and don’t have the faintest idea how to respond. This would be a total field day for some family behaviorist out there somewhere. We should seriously be part of some kind of psychology experiment.
This whole issue of being non-emotional actually extends far beyond that because once you rid yourself of depression, joy, anger, and hope, what is there really to talk about except bullshit surfacy stuff that really doesn’t matter? I mean, if you can’t have even the slightest bit of emotional intimacy with someone you’re talking to, what does that leave? I’ll tell you what topics are safe under these circumstances: the weather, how quickly plants grow, and what do you want to eat at your next meal. That’s it! That’s all there is! Kill me now why don’t you!
I am an introvert. I don’t derive energy from others or from interaction, it is draining. Having a real conversation about real topics is hard work for me. Because from my point of view, I have to (a) have an opinion (b) share that opinion – aka figure out how to verbalize it (c) tell others how it makes me feel and (d) remember to ask others how it makes them feel. I feel exhausted just thinking about that all at once. I haven’t been practicing this for the past 30+ years like the rest of you.
Back before I was required to have a conversation and realizing feelings are “a thing”:
Oh life was just too simple then. People ask me if I had a good childhood. YES! I was a really happy kid. I even didn’t mind growing up in Lynchburg. As an adult though, it’s not the place for me. And after having confronted many of my flaws as a real live human and experiencing personal growth like none other, being around my parents as an adult is not really the place for me either. But seeing our similarities reminds me where I came from, and seeing our differences reminds me how far I’ve come.