Since Thanksgiving my relationship with my family has been a bit strenuous. The main culprit was my sister, but because no family member publicly sided with me or even told her that it was not a way to deal with family members, I took it as they also shared her feelings towards my Significant Other (S.O.). This feeling has caused me to distance myself from everyone. If you have a relationship with my family, then I stay away from you. The disadvantage is that most of my friends are somewhat connected to my family. It is easier to hang out with acquaintances now, but sometimes they ask about my niece or my sister and I close up. I do not know how to explain to people that I am ashamed of them at the moment. I love them, but I want them far away from me. I am also afraid that people will assume that I am a bad person because my family treats me badly. Why would you treat someone dear to you badly unless they are bad people? I miss my family, but for the moment we do not talk. I am afraid that the disconnect that we are experiencing now will affect our friendship. I wish I had a guide to navigate that situation.
This is my 4th semester in grad school. Next semester, Fall 2017, should be my last, and I will be a proud recipient of a MBA concentration finance. I take online classes, two classes per semester and I work full-time (Ouf!). That leaves me with little-to-no social life, an eating disorder, stress level off the charts, and a ‘happy’ problem (by happy I mean 3 or 4 ciders a week).
I sit at work for long hours. I decide to go to the gym. I pay for a gym membership that I never use. I went to the gym once this year. I do not like moving. I eat a 3 courses meal for lunch. I complain a lot. I drink 3 to 4 ciders per week (the calories add up). I decide to eat healthy. I buy fruits and vegetables. I eat them. I do not buy more. I look up healthy recipes. I never cook using them. I stopped eating ice cream at home. I stress eat churros. I stress eat tempura ice cream. I eat late at night while doing homework. I stay up late doing homework. I sleep less than 6 hours per night. I have no social life. I text everyone instead of calling. I make plans to hang out. I meet up with friends. Most times I cancel plans with friends. I feel bad about my social life. I go on Facebook and Instagram and feel worse about myself. I stress out that everyone in my class is more intelligent than me. I work twice harder to catch up to them. I stay up even later to study. I get tips to lower stress for friends and classmates. I use tips and it lowers my stress during the day. During the evening, my stress level skyrockets because I think that I missed important deadlines. I stress cry. I complain. I start seeing a therapist. I think about quitting therapy. I no longer enjoy my work.
That is how I cope with grad school and work full time. Any tips?
Last August, I went on my first semi solo trip abroad. My trip consisted of two parts: Part 1, I went to Cancun, partied on my own and did touristy stuffs, Part 2, my boyfriend joined me in Mexico and together we took the bus to Tulum. It was a great trip; I had a mix of both. On the first part, I was able to make my own schedule and do activities that I enjoyed. On the second part, I had company and it was fun creating memories with someone else. I enjoyed myself a lot. I made new friends. I went to few parties with my hosts at Airbnb and danced to new songs. I saw Chichen Itza and visited a few cenotes. I biked Tulum with my boyfriend, and we visited historical sites. We discovered new drinks and dishes and realized how much Mexican food in our area is toned down.
This time I want to go to a new place but alone. I want to use this trip to learn about myself and also allow myself to loosen up a bit. I am a very self-conscious person. I always worry about what friends (and strangers) will think of my behavior. This has always prevented me from being spontaneous and act a little wild. I want to be able to enjoy activities without caring about what my people think of me. In my culture, you need to be constantly surrounded by friends and family. It is almost like a confirmation that you are a good person; if you were not such a good person, they would not want to spend time with you… I want to face my fear of being alone. I have lived most of my life in two places. I want to prove to myself that I can get around in other places, even if it is just to find food. Although, I was always attracted to different things (whether be visual arts, music or fashion), I always denied myself the pleasure of pursuing such activities because I was raised to conform to national culture. Everybody likes Adidas therefore, I should also buy and wear Adidas shoes, for example. Additionally, in my home country everybody thinks similarly. Whether your name is Stephanie or Carolyn, we all share the same worldview. In this time of my life, I want to be confronted with different logic and different perspectives, I want to grow from that challenge. I want to experience new things and hear new music. I want to meet people who think differently. Last but not least, I want to discover new dishes. I love to eat. I will not call myself a foodie, but I enjoy trying different dishes or different recipes. I want to find a new favorite cuisine. Traveling solo will allow me to relax and discover the real (or the new) me.
For three months now I have been researching travel deals and I found a few, but I was never able to finalize the purchase. I made up many excuses: I can find better deals at a later date, these dates are not good for my work schedule, I do not talk to my family so who will be my emergency contact etc.… Now, no more excuses. I have the fire to do it now. I need to travel and discover new horizons. And I should do it fast before the new U.S. president signs new travel bans.
This past Thanksgiving, my sister dis-invited my significant other (S.O.) to the dinner that was being held at her place. She sent a text message, stating that her baby-daddy did not want him to join them for dinner because of what he did two years ago.
Two years ago, my S.O. was working retail, and we had to leave dinner early because he was working that same night. On that day, he was tired, we had a fight on the way to the dinner, and he was a bit upset and uncomfortable. My family did not know of that nor did they try to understand what was going on.
I always dreaded going to my sister’s place. I do not feel comfortable there, and neither her and her significant other tried to make me or my significant other at ease. We always feel like strangers at that place. Additionally, she had never accepted him into the family. She never tried talking to him and would always voice her discomfort with him. Even my niece acts up when he is around. However, when my sister needs his help, she can be the most lovely person, whether it is for work referral, car trouble, fetch her food, or to show how diverse she can be.
This Thanksgiving, I stood up for my relationship and said that I would not accept how my family treats my S.O. It was not the first time they had kept him out of family reunions. Before I played along but this time I realized that things would not get better if I do not do or say something. I decided not to go to the dinner, and I also reminded them that it was a family day, yet they decided to keep him and I (supposedly family) out of the celebration. This time I had enough. I said what was on my mind and I was resentful, not because of the dis-invite, but because my own sister had decided to keep the love of my life out of her life. Her agreeing with her man made me feel alienated. My brother, who I had hopped would side with me, still went to dinner like nothing happened.
Throughout the years, I realized that I loved my siblings but strongly disliked them. The people that they are becoming are very ugly in the inside. Moreover, they have been absent when I needed them and indifferent to me. My sister has always felt entitled to everything and is a very selfish person. My brother, on the other hand, is manipulative and selfish because he has always been spoiled. According to my parents, he could do nothing wrong. It is hard for me to cut them off of my life. However, I believe that I need to remove myself emotionally from them. And I need to do so tactfully. My family is very fickle and sensitive.
I think the main problem my siblings have with my relationship is because my S.O. is White and I am black. My sister dislikes him because of his skin color. My brother is more accepting, but I question his motives. My siblings always voiced the difficulties and aches that come from racial stereotyping. It is so hypocrite of them to do the same to another race. They do not know how to navigate an interracial couple, and they are not even making an effort.
It is stressful and draining to be in a relationship. It is even more when the people are from different backgrounds, culture, and race. I have no support group, no compassionate ear, no comforting shoulder to lean on. Furthermore, my family is making my life miserable. Since the Thanksgiving problem, it has been only insults. Last night my mom told me that I am following the devil. My family do not see the irreparable damages they are causing, and frankly I do not believe that they care.
I decided to see a therapist. It is very costly, but I need professional help. My life is crumbling, and I have not idea how to survive.
I am in my late twenties. By now, I have accomplished a few things in my life that I am proud. On the other hand, there are a few things that I could work more on.
- I am very incompetent with make-up. Media pushes for women to have pretty faces. However, I never learned to do more than basic concealer.
- I am struggling to stay skinny. Since I graduated from my undergrad studies, I have not been an active person. I work in an office and take online classes from my masters degree. Therefore, I spend countless hours sitting staring at a screen. With such busy schedule I rarely find the time and energy to go to the gym. In the past four years, I gained 30 pounds.
- I do not think that I am sexy. In my country, voluptuous women are attractive. I have always been skinny, almost underweight, and therefore not the attractive type. Moving to the U.S. was a culture shock. Here skinny rhymes with sexy. However, I cannot follow that trend because of the deeply rooted aesthetic ideas of my home country.
- I cannot sound confident when talking. I am an intelligent person. Of course, I do not know or understand everything. But I do strive to educate and comprehend more every day. However, even when I know my topic in depth I cannot sound like I am sure of myself. I always think that there is a super-genius who will refute everything that I say. I could be a fear of making mistakes.
- I do not know how to forgive & forget. I forgive, but I do not forget. I do not know how to let go of pain. I am afraid that I will not learn from past mistakes if I do not have the painful reminder of past events.
This list can go on, but I will stop there for now.
The new year started 3 days ago, and I still have no concrete idea of what I want from 2017. Of course, I want to be healthy, have a job, and have a place to live but besides that I have no clue what I want from this year or from my life (to be honest).
2016 has been challenging. Not only for me, but for women, Muslims, immigrants, transgenders, LGBTQ, and people with compassion in their hearts. For me it has been a year of learning about myself and also about my loved ones. I have always been a tolerant person, happy-go-merry, easy-going, non-confrontational, and accommodating person. I am a perfect example of a middle child. I grew up feeling that my older and younger siblings get all the attention (and still feel that way). They are the most looked after; my parents still provide for them. Also because I am financially stable and more resourceful than them, I always felt guilty of my luck and did my best to assist, support and provide for them. I also wanted and expected the reciprocal; the love, the attention, the care. Nonetheless, because I always put them first, I forgot about myself, my expectations, my feelings, my standards. I lost myself in the cause, and I did not see how self-destructive that behavior would turn out to be. Helping my siblings became the only goal. I would anticipate their needs, and I would jump as soon they said they needed me. I would drop friends, lovers, myself to run out to them. This was the way I lived my life. I allowed them to feel entitled to everything I own. However, summer of 2016 after a nervous breakdown, I realized how I let everyone dictate my life. I saw the extent of my “humanitarian” actions.
I always drew satisfaction from knowing that my siblings and friends needed me. I treated my friends the same as my siblings. It gave me purpose. It also filled my days, I never made time for myself. I was not big on self-care. I was always the giver, and I received little in return. I always wanted to be surrounded by people because I believed that charisma was a sign of success. Therefore, in order to have an entourage, I would agree to and accommodate to everyone’s requests. Having people around would validate me; it would say to the world that I am a great person. Additionally, attending a Catholic school enforced the idea that I was a sinner, that I was bad, but that I could redeem myself if I was a good Samaritan. I forgot however, that life is about balance, if I give and do not get something in return, I will empty out…. Then, sometime during the summer of 2016, I realized that I was empty. I had no idea who I was, what I wanted, what brought me joy, or even how I made it that far in life without an identity. I allowed people to define me; what they say in me was what I was. I just did not realized that I was denying myself a chance at happiness.
Lately, because I will no longer accept to be a doormat, my friends and family are rebelling against me. They call me names, they insult me, they marginalize me, they manipulate and abuse me. They are testing me. Life is testing me. Nonetheless, I recognize that I need to figure myself out and grow a backbone. I need to stand up for myself and allow my true self to be revealed. I need to stop seeking validation from friends and family. I want to be happy. I deserve to be happy. I should do things because I want to, not because that is what is expected from me. I think that the universe is removing these people from my life, and it is a painful experience. I wasted years on ungrateful people. My life is mine, and I choose to be happy .
I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. State capitol of the bayous of Louisiana. Home of the Louisiana State University Tigers. Land where streets of stately southern homes are lined by rows of oak trees as old as the country itself. City where Mardi Gras beads hang from power lines year round. Home to crawfish and […]