Today, I chatted with two former co-workers from my old work place. One of them is based at the institution I work at and the other was observing her for the day. It was good to catch up and talk about new office dynamics and life in general. At one point in the conversation, we started talking about going out/staying out late with friends and our parents. I shared that I wanted to go to a wedding for a friend this weekend but it was about an hour and a half drive south and thus I was planning to spend the night. My mom had some reservations about this and advised me not to go. She started lecturing me about the dangers of being a female and having to be security conscious of your surroundings and the situations you put yourself in.
I asked the coworkers what their opinions were and if they thought I should just go against her wishes and just go. They asked if I thought the long-term benefits would outweigh the short-term cost and what the consequences would be. I told them I thought the long-term benefits would outweigh the cost in that by explicitly going against my mother’s wishes, I would be taking a stand and sending the message that I was doing what I wanted to do for myself as an adult. I shared how the weekend before, my mom had asked me if I was available that weekend to babysit because she and my dad would be busy and how we my mom, dad, and I had gotten to this point – basically because on the weekends, I would go out and do what I wanted to do, whether that was shopping, working out, or just hanging out with friends. They knew they could not count on me to be free and available.
I further expressed my feelings of having to physically remove myself from my household for my parents to realize that I was an adult who could take care of herself and make her own decisions and not a child anymore. This turned into a conversation about curfews and the two confided that their own mothers were just as overprotective, just as nagging, and just as guilt-tripping. One of the coworkers said this was her year to be selfish and she’s going to do whatever she wants because all throughout college and up until now she has been making decisions based on her family and their desires. She said she realizes that it is kind of sad when one wants to run away from one’s family and feels the way she does but she can’t help it because all of her life she’s been living 1/4 of the life she should have been.
Her words really resonated with me because I understand her and where she is coming from 100%. Sometimes I get frustrated with my parents because they expect that I will always be there and that I can do the things that they cannot (not only for them but for my siblings as well). And yes, I can and I want to but that is so much pressure to put on one individual person. One person should not have to be the keeper of 8. One person should not have to live the lives of 8 other individuals. One person should not have to sacrifice or be able to live only 1/4 of her life for herself especially when she has not consciously made the decision to live that life.
Additionally, good friend has told me before that I need to stand my ground with my parents otherwise they will continue to perceive me as a child. Furthermore, he said I should become comfortable with the reality that I may have to walk away because eventually my family will learn to adapt with my absence and make it in the world somehow. But I care too much and have too large a heart to walk away.
Lately, I have been feeling the frustrations of fighting for my own freedom and respect and it is wearing me down. I am frustrated for having to deal with the consequences of the choices that my parents have made, to be expected to deal with the situations that they have put me in. I believe they truly do care about me and my growth but do not realize that they are holding me back from my real potential. I have been picking and choosing my battles but I don’t want to have to choose; I want to have my freedom, to be able to do. I admitted to my co-workers that I have been avoiding confronting the issue but I realize that by avoiding an issue will never be resolved but I don’t currently possess the courage to fully confront the issue. It was heartening to hear that I was not alone in the frustrations that I have with my parents but disheartening that we have to go through this struggle.
I will go to the wedding this weekend and I know my parents will be furious that I disobeyed but I will deal with that when I come back.