I wrote this entry as John and I approached our 9th wedding anniversary. One ongoing source of tension in our relationship with each other was our respective roles within our birth families. Each of us felt the other simply “didn’t understand” our respective birth family dynamics. On top of that, each of us were struggling with reconciling our adult identities with the identities projected on us by our birth families.
We were able to resolve the first bit through marriage counseling, to a large extent, but the second bit — our identities within our birth families — is even now an ongoing issue for both of us. I doubt this is uncommon. I can’t speak for John’s struggle, but in my own family I felt helpless and unvoiced by what I saw as their tendency to dismiss my views as invalid due to an inherent rebelliousness. In other words, I thought my family saw me as a “born contrarian,” and were dismissing my questions and lifestyle choices as just another rebellious phase undergone solely to ruffle feathers.
It seemed they still saw me as a feckless teenager, not a wife of 9 years, mother to an 8 year old, a part-time employed college student and community volunteer, and a full-time housewife.
This mattered to my religious questioning, because I believed, to no small extent, that I would be taken seriously as an adult if I just toed the line and rejoined the LDS fold. This was extremely frustrating to me, because I didn’t think my religious belief or lack thereof should have any bearing on my perceived maturity.
writers block: what is your role in your family
April 10, 2008, 10:05
What is my role in my family? Hmmm. This is a hard question. I would say I don’t have one, but I think I might be cried down at that, simply because everyone has to have some sort of a role. My older two siblings are the popular, friendly, extroverted ones. My middle brother is the teasing, goofy one. My little sister is quirky and unique. I don’t know. I think I’m the bookish one.
On another level, there are the usual familial roles — peacemaker, rebel, leader, etc. I don’t think I fit into any of those, either. I’ve always been on the outside, looking in. I feel as though I’ve never quite fit, as far as my family goes. I love them, but I don’t always understand them, and I don’t think they understand me.
I was talking to my little sister the other day about the motorcycle course I was going to take. She laughed when I told her about it, and I said, “What, you know I’ve always wanted to ride a motorcycle.”
She replied, “Yeah, I guess I just thought you’d grow up at some point.” That surprised me, and hurt me a little. I also had an epiphany. My family thinks my personality, who I am, is just a phase. They think that all of this; this lifestyle and these choices that they so vehemently disapprove of, will pass. That I will eventually see the error of my ways and become a good mormon.
In a way, this makes me very sad, but at the same time, it’s a weight off my shoulders. It makes me sad, because I realize that they are never going to understand me, or truly accept that I don’t think the same way as them. I don’t agree with them in certain issues, and I like different things. I’m not rebelling, or trying to act out or anything like that. I’m just living my life the way I enjoy it and the way I see fit to live it.
It makes me sad because they see me as inherently flawed, and that I must change. That I, as I am, am simply not good enough. I must be different.On the other hand, it takes a weight off my shoulders, because I see no reason to keep trying to make them understand. I see no reason to continue with the explanations and whatnot.
If it pleases my family to think of my personality, my very being, as a phase . . . then so be it. I can’t change the way other people think or perceive me. I don’t want to change myself — I like who I am. I like myself. I think I’m a good person, with many good qualities. I know I need improvement in some areas, but I think that is the nature of mankind — to constantly seek improvement over our inherently selfish nature.