Yesterday I agreed to be part of a girls day with a few family members, it was the most exhausting experience I have had in months. It was a stark contrast to the rejuvenating experience I had with a different group of women Friday at Red Tent. In one scenario I left feeling grounded and inspired, in the other I left feeling completely drained and resentful.
There is definitely an AND present here, it was not a terrible experience on the whole.
I really enjoyed being with these women in my family AND it was too much. Too much stimulus, too much time, too much giving without enough receiving, too much of my mother, too many different energies clashing. Just too much.
There is a family wedding approaching and the bride wanted to attend a bridal show at a local hotel. This is not my scene. I went to one of these things when I was engaged and was overwhelmed. I have not seen the bride in months though and she went with me when I went before so I agreed. I figured it would be a few hours of being over stimulated but that trade was worth the time I would get to spend with her and the other women in my family.
My first mistake was not getting all the information. I agreed to something without understanding what I was agreeing to. What I thought would be a few hours was over 7. My entire day was consumed by this and I had no out. I was at the mercy of the group.
That is really what made this day hard, the length of time.
I can handle my mother complaining about her life and only talking about my brother and his family without ever asking about me and mine in small dosages, not for 7 hours.
I can handle being in an over stimulating situation in small dosages, not for 7 hours.
I can handle superficial conversation in small dosages, not for 7 hours.
I can make allowances for boundary violations, especially during special occasions, not for 7 hours.
I can handle postponing a meal, not for 12 hours.
I ate breakfast at 8am and then did not eat a meal again until 7:30pm. During that 12 hour window I ate one bite of wedding cake, a mint, a handful of goldfish, and edamame.
When we finally left the bridal show everyone was starving. The group decided on a Chinese restaurant, I immediately spoke up and reminded my family that I cannot eat Chinese food due to a food allergy I have. I was told the same thing I am always told when it comes to eating out with my family: you can order a salad.
This right here is one of the main reasons I no longer go to restaurants with my family.
What if I don’t want to eat a fucking salad? What if I am starving just like you and want to eat something more substantial? I don’t see anyone else ordering a fucking salad, yeah it is because you are fucking hungry and lettuce just won’t do it!
When we got to the restaurant I discovered that my allergen is used in the salad dressings and the marinades for the meat. If I ordered a salad I would have to order raw vegetables with unseasoned meat in order for it not to make me sick. And you know, there are times when I do eat that way and it is okay but I had not eaten all day and that was not going to cut it. I ended up ordering edamame to hold me over and decided I would eat dinner at home with my husband in a few hours when I was finally released.
Everyone around me ate rice and chicken and vegetables while I sat there with my edamame and hot tea. My mom kept trying to feed me her fried rice and I kept having to tell her, No it will make me sick. I was supremely frustrated. Please stop waving your delicious food in front of me, yes I would love to eat it but I don’t feel like shitting my pants today.
I did finally have an opportunity to share some things in my life I am excited about right now but soon after I was given the floor it was taken away again. Interruption after interruption. Me trying to tell my story quickly became someone else telling theirs. I did get to finish but only because I redirected multiple times.
I love my family AND they are not my people. That is my truth.
I live a life they do not understand. The way I live, the way I communicate, the things that I am passionate about, are not valued in my family, even among the women, so I am silenced.
I have nothing to contribute in the way of gossip, or complaining, or what I like to eat at the newest chain restaurant. And they have nothing to contribute when I talk about the sacredness of a space like Red Tent other than side ways glances at one another and concerned questions.
I love my family AND they are not my people. That is my truth. A truth that once made me feel isolated and lost. A truth that now makes me feel liberated. I can love them AND live a life outside of them that is not for them. I do not have to belong to my family in order to belong. Family is not the most important thing, connection is. That is my truth.
On Friday I spent time with strangers, sharing a meal I could eat, talking about things that excited me and made me feel heard and understood. I left that gathering of women feeling completely connected to myself and these women. I knew who I was.
Yesterday I spent time with women I have known my entire life, watching them share a meal I could not eat, listening to them talk about things that frustrated me and made me feel invisible and outcast. I left that gathering of women feeling completely disconnected from myself and these women. I felt sick with the over exposure to this energy field.
When I finally got home my husband came outside with my sage already lit and brought in some groceries I picked up for our dinner while I cleansed myself in the driveway before entering my home. We ate together and talked about things that mattered to us and I felt connected again.
I love my family AND they are not my people. That is my truth. I have so much gratitude to be able to stand in that truth with love rather than fear. I have so much gratitude for the places I do belong. I have so much gratitude for the inside connection I have built that allows me to stand in my truth and be free.