Family “Values”

9 Apr

Anyone who has ever met me knows how much I adore being a part of my family. For decades (ugh, decades??) now, I have bragged about how hilarious, accomplished, loving, and just wonderful people they are. We are by no means a normal family – for as long as I can remember we have used the words “weird” “loud” and “obnoxious” to describe our behavior. But it has always been in a fun, spirited way – hopefully appreciated by most who come in contact with us.

We’re close. Like, weirdly close. My family is not just my mom and brothers. My cousins are as close to me as my siblings, and my aunts, uncles, and grandparents have been involved in every step of my adult life. Growing up, we all got together at least once every week (usually Sundays at Grandma’s after church), made sure to make time for family trips to the movies/bowling/amusement parks/etc on a regular basis, and always took a family vacation each summer.

I digress.

Ever since moving to DC, things have changed. I’m the oldest sibling and cousin, and therefore was the first to move out of the house, go to college, (only one to) study abroad, and eventually find a real job. My family are a bunch of home-bodies, and I guess it was always assumed that everyone, no matter their occupation, would stay within a one hour radius of our city for the rest of our lives. I know how ridiculous that sounds… But understand that the career paths of my brothers and cousins will likely allow them to do just that. As for me, I needed to get the eff outta dodge.

I’ve been in DC for exactly one year and one day as of today. (YAY!) And yet, it isn’t until right now that I’ve realized how distant I’ve become from so many people in just one year. Growing apart from friends is normal, and usually I am able to pick up where I left off with them every time I go home. There are no ill-feelings that I left them to pursue a career in a different city. But my family is different. It’s like they hold it against me – constantly. Subtly, but it’s there.

It’s only within these past few months that I’ve noticed it with them. But everytime I come home, I feel like I’m on the defensive with everyone. I’ve had to justify my actions for breaking up with my boyfriend (who they all assume I will get back together with… no). I constantly try to impress them by talking about my job, or bring up fun things that one can only find in DC, and they change the subject. I had knee surgery a little over a month ago, and it has barely been acknowledged by ANY of them since. I tell them I’m coming home on a Friday night, and they instead plan a family dinner and a movie for Thursday. Am I missing something here? When did I go from being a member of the family to some outsider begging to be let back in?

It hurts, guys. It really freaking sucks.

Of course I still love my family. I have put so much energy into trying to keep my relationship with them strong even though I live farther away. I still tell everyone how close my family is, how well we all get along, and how you should be jealous that you aren’t a part of it. But do I mean it anymore? I’ve been here for an entire year, and I’ve had exactly one visitor: My mother.

I can’t imagine acting like this if the roles were reversed. Being the one who gives more in a relationship (friends/boys/etc) and not getting the same in return is not exactly a new concept to me. Honestly… story of my life (thanks, 1D). But I never thought this would also happen in my family. Maybe I’m in a funk?

Honestly I’m unsure what to do moving forward. Half of me wants to pack my bags and head to Europe on a whim (wait, I actually always want to do that) and see how long it takes them to realize I’ve gone. I’m afraid to bring this all up to them, because I really don’t know how they’d react. Do they realize they’re even doing this? For now, I’ve decided to kinda shut myself off for a while. I’m done sending messages to our mass family group text and getting zero responses. I’m done trying to organize a family dinner that no one has time to go to. I’m done putting in all the effort and getting the cold shoulder in return. Maybe when I go home this month, things will suddenly get better. But until that happens, I’m taking a break from trying to be a real member of my family.

Sorry, but I’m not sorry about this.


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