Thursday, January 6, 2011

You can't get rid of them ... so don't even try

This is one I have learned the hard way. My husband and I had a peaceful life on the central coast of California. We were close to family, but not that close. Some family members I saw once a week, others once a month. When we decided, after our daughter was born, to try and get out of the “rat race,” the only way this was possible was to move to the opposite side of the country, 3,000 miles from all we knew. At one point in my life this would have seemed inconceivable, but at the time it seemed like the right thing to do. Not only would we have a fresh start financially, but my husband would have more time to spend with our daughter and we could pursue other goals.

Leave your family? you say in alarm. But I looked at this as a pro, not a con. My reasoning for taking the first and only grandbaby away from her doting grandparents was this: My parents did not live their lives to make us happy, so we should not live our lives to make them happy.

So we said our goodbyes, and never looked back. We enjoyed long phone conversations and yearly visits. And then one day, things changed. My sister joined us first; next, my sister-in-law; then my aunt and her husband, followed by my mother-in-law, my mom and her husband, my other aunt, my uncle, my brother-in-law and last but not least my grandparents.

When we lived in California, some of these family members lived hours away and were seen about once every five years. But now we were all living within a block of each other, in a town that was not equipped to handle my highly dysfunctional relations. Not only did I have family drama; it was magnified ten-fold, and concentrated within a one-mile radius. Oh, how I missed the “good old days.” I came to realize that, family should be a blessing, but sometimes it feels like a curse. Most of my stress was actually coming from my family!

Looking back, this was the first of many hard lessons I had to learn, but probably the most valuable was: You can’t get rid of them, so don’t even try! When we run from our problems, not only do they follow us (literally), but they actually become worse. Do I regret moving? It depends on the day. What I thought was an affliction now feels like a gift. It has taught me much about my personality and who I really am. And it has taught me never again to try to run from all I know.

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