My blog has seen nary a post of late thanks, in part, to my recent glorious experience with a botched appendectomy which resulted in me having to stay in the hospital for over a week. Experiences like hospital visits can really prompt a guy to re-evaluate and perspectivize certain aspects of his life. I was so incredibly lucky to have the support of Kristin, my family, and my friends through my whole hospitalization ordeal… Kristin, especially -she watched over me and was there for me the whole step of the way through my nightmarish situation: making sure I was never alone, staying over night with me on the uncomfortable hospital couch, even talking to doctor friends to make sure I was getting the best treatment. She looked after me in an incredibly touching and loving manner -one which (brings me peace and happiness to know) I would have likewise extended back to her had our situations been reversed.
Apart from all my medical hoopla, (of which I will spare the details for the sake of my own sanity and -pun intended: weak stomach) the experience of having my immediate family spend so much time in close proximity with the girl who I am dating and am very close to was an adventure all in itself… I recall a moment that was particularly interesting to me which happened early on into Kristin’s experience of getting to know my parents. In a window of opportunity Kristin discreetly whispered to me a very apt candid observation of her initial impressions of my family: “I feel like I’m some crazy hybrid of your parents,” she said to me. A statement which felt both pleasing, yet, awkward in it’s accuracy. I love my parents… so don’t get me wrong (and I’m sure that many people could say the following about their parents:) but… Mom and Dad are probably some of the most neurotic and opposite people that I know -a fact which has very strongly colored the man that I am today (Remember my blog title? “Featheroflead” -opposites coexist and are juxtaposed.) Perhaps I am so in love with diversity and extremes of life as a result of having such opposite parents -in any case… I try to take away as much strength from my unique and diverse situation as I can. Still… having Mom and Dad (who have been divorced since I was 6 years old) in the same room with me and my love interest FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK proved to be more trying that I would have anticipated. Being hyped up on 5 or 6 different types of meds -in addition -some of which increase restlessness… was not helping my situation to say the least. In the end -looking back- it really feels as though Kristin was my saving grace through the whole ordeal. I’ll explain why:
Kristin is right: I have no allusions to the fact that I want to find a lover who holds similarities that resonate with my parents. The fact that I am attracted to Kristin is likely to have significant relation to the idea that I see qualities in her that are similar to the people who I’ve had my primary attachment to while growing up (my parents). … but it also goes further than that: see: my parents -just like anyone else -they have their flaws: specifically -I’d argue- some of their flaws may include the fact that they jump-started their lives sooner than what would have been ideal. (They had their reasons). My mom was only 20 years old when she married my 25 year old Dad. I know that things were different back in the day but… yikes! That seems kind of young (and it certainly turned out to be so (that they were too young)). As a lesson learned I have found it necessary to give myself adequate space, time, and experiences with regards to getting to know myself –before jumping into any sort of committed life choice (course of study, job, school, lover, etc.) This has been something that has really worked for me -of late, in particular -because I feel as though I have finally arrived at a sufficient definition of myself in a state where I am “ready to go!” as it were. That is to say -I’ve found myself and I excitedly am ready and wanting to move forward in all fronts of my life. One of my favorite movies of all time is Revolutionary Road -a movie that deals with two young lovers at transitional time on their way to full adulthood. (Although, things don’t go so well for Leo and Kate in that movie…) Hmmm. I think I need to make a separate post sometime to cover all the ideas that I have for how Revolutionary Road relates to me… stay tuned for that. I digress.
Backtracking on my previous sentiment: so my parents have flaws… it’s true (who doesn’t?!) And yes: being stuck in close quarters while being on meds which increase agitation and restlessness can make for one hellish experience. There were moments where just the mere way my Mom or Dad would say a word would make me feel so frustrated, embarrassed, and/or impatient with them -particularly in front of Kristin. My parents both struggle with anxiety and, at times, in the hospital it felt to me as though everything they did or said was riddled with anxiety (LOL: that sounds like a sentiment that someone with anxiety would say… yikes So much of my life’s work, though (perhaps in response to my parents), has been me learning and developing strategies and attitudes to ensure that I would not become someone crippled by anxiety -like how I imagine my parents are/may be. It brings me pleasure and pride to be able to confidently say that this endeavor has (for the most part) paid off successfully. Following much work, I feel as though I am a very healthy person and I am living life in the moment in a way that is fruitful and blessed. Kristin -I see- is also a person who has been able to achieve this -which I find incredibly attractive.
Almost a year ago when I was beginning a big push in my life to reform myself and my goals, I recall something that my then new therapist told me: “It is not uncommon for people to seek partners with whom they can re-write (and hopefully improve) the stories of their parent’s struggles, troubles, or shortcomings.” Although it may be embarrassing or somewhat odd to admit, my therapist’s observation seems eerily appropriate to my current situation. As she herself noticed: if I really look at it: Kristin appears to me to be a combination of many of the best qualities that both of my parents have… and more. She is on the level of the person that I feel that I am and that I want to be (strive for). This is, indeed, an excellent sentiment -and yet, with it… brings a potential theme/dilemma: one which this blog seems to touch on frequently: Taking the step forward into a self that is more who I feel that I am / more who I want to be. It may seem simple but, in reality, taking steps forward can be scary -especially when you take a pause to look backward and see how far you’ve come. My situation with the hospital was exactly such moment -although with higher stakes because I had no option to run away or tell my family to not come and look after their gravely ill hospitalized “only child.” In my hospital room -during the times when I wasn’t preoccupied with my smorgasbord of very uncomfortable illness/medical experiences, I was left with my own thoughts and observations about and of my family in response to who I am today. I couldn’t help but have fears like “What if I’m destined to slip into being like my parents?,” “What if I’m not good enough to be the person that I dream of being?,” or “What if being around my parents enables Kristin to see me in a light where she would stop being attracted to me?” -all things that my brain knows are silly -yet my feelings of fear and doubt can’t help but ponder.
Which brings me to additional tid-bits of wisdom and human tendency brought to you courtesy of my therapist: 1) There is a risk wherein some people may feel as though they are betraying their parents by being “more successful” than them. This is something that I must be aware of so that I don’t irrationally sabotage my endeavors to be “healthier than them.” 2) The fact that I am providing focus to trying to be and/or not be like my parents in xyz ways will lead me on a path to either be “successful” or “not” in being like or not like them. That is to say, because I am aware of how I am in comparison to my parents -I will make decisions in relation to trying to be or not be like them. While this may seem harmless -it may, actually, not be ideal. What WOULD be ideal (which is what I’m shooting towards) would rather be that I would live my life for me: be who I want to be -separate from what my parents are or aren’t. The reality is that I am not my parents -I am my own person. I need to live life for me and what I want -apart from fear or joy about becoming or not becoming my parents. (I’ve included a scene from my favorite comedy, Community, to illustrate this idea when Jeff talks to Troy about the act of wearing his letterman jacket.)
But all is not in vain. There is strength in seeing what of me has come or not come from my parents. There is strength in realizing what, of my parents, I do not want for myself. The true strength wisdom will come, however, when I can let go of my fears of becoming or not becoming some external notion -so that instead I can simply become myself. This concept can be likened to to an Aikido lesson: “We train so that we don’t need our training.” So much time in Aikido is spent mastering techniques for encountering and neutralizing situations before they even come to pass. My goal is to do likewise with becoming the man that I want to be: I am learning who I am in relationship to my parents so that I can ultimately forget or drop the whole focus so that I can pickup simply be myself. Can I overcome my own fear? Can I follow Paulo Coelho’s advice and “[not] be someone that searches, finds, and then runs away”? I think, “yes.” Let’s “MAKE IT SO!”