Taking ownership of our place.
I know, I know. You have a job, you pay your bills, you may even have a family with kids, and pets, and a car with great mileage. You feel all grown up. You are proud of all that, and yes, you should, they all sound like great accomplishments. It’s ok. Most people believe that all of those things are the meaning of being an adult. I know a lot of people who resent it and long for the days when there were no responsibilities, when they were kids with no worries about anything except maybe the bad grade on a paper. You can see all over their Facebook walls and twitter posts, quotes like “don’t you wish you could go back to when everything was simple?” (background with kids playing in a meadow at sunset). Still, they are now responsible “adults”.
I was one of them, not so long ago, minus the yearning. I actually wanted to grow up and pay for my stuff, have a career, travel, study abroad, maybe even a husband; kids…not so much, but I really, really looked forward to all that and it happened (minus the husband and the not so much kids), but something was off. The “off” thing kept growing as the years went by. I could not put my finger on it, I wanted more, I wanted to be happy for me, not because I had a good job, or a good family, or nice clothes. I realized I did want to share my life with someone but I wasn’t ready; I liked my job, but I’d complaint about where I worked so I didn’t really enjoy it.
Lots of people comfort themselves with the proverbial “you can’t have it all”. It’s amazing how well programmed we all are to be convinced that we better settle for what we “have”, and that the “having” is the source of happiness. Thankfully, I met someone who was kind enough to show me (not tell me) a different perspective: I thought I was an adult, but I was really facing life as a child. As a teenager, actually. I was out of place. When you’re standing in your place, your rightful place, the way you look, evaluate and appreciate everything is completely different. Things that seemed really complicated become easy and you find the inner strength to face all kinds of situations. The “showing” part I cannot explain, but I can tell you the clues: if you blame your parents for anything that’s going on in your “adult” life, if you think you know better than them and lecture them on anything and/or everything, if you think they owe you something, if you feel they have to explain themselves to you for the choices they made or if you feel you have the right to criticize the choices they make now about their lives, if you think they should do things your way because it’s better, or safer or whatever you want to call it. If your answer is yes to at least one of those, you are not standing in your place.
So, what can you do? it’s easy for some and incredibly hard for others. It may take a long time and you may need the support of others to do it. Here it goes: leave your parents be and move on. Remember: they got here before you and that makes them bigger than you. You are alive because they made that choice. They could have gotten rid of you but they did not and now as an adult you can choose to do whatever you want with your life. You do not have the right to judge them for any of their choices, they are different people, who have lived under very different circumstances. LET IT GO, GROW UP! It makes a world of difference.
Important note: in some cases, especially in cases of abuse of any kind, this needs to be looked at separately, so if you were a victim of abuse or there is a history of abuse in your family, letting go may take a lot more than just making a conscious choice, but it’s possible with the right support.
Try this exercise: In complete silence stand up, imagine that your parents are in front of you, looking at you, your mom is standing on the left side of your dad. Breathe deeply and identify any feelings that come or any sensations in your body. Just stand there for a few minutes and be aware of what happens, even if you feel nothing. Also, be aware of how you see them: tall, short, are they smiling? are they serious? do you need to take some distance? can you see them at all? It’s ok if you cannot do the exercise. It sounds simple but for some people it’s hard, don’t push it. Maybe later you can try again. Take your time.