Thursday, July 24, 2014
Do what makes you happy
I have a distant aunt and uncle that are some of my favorite people on Earth. When I was young, they were a big influence on me even though they likely didn't know it. They were fun people, my aunt was always ready with a big hug, a hearty laugh and you always got a sense when she asked you how you were doing, it wasn't a nicety...she really wanted to know. She could be goofy or serious as a heart attack given the topic and always looked you in the eyes and touched your arm to let you know she was listening. It's love at first meet with her as the Mr can attest. The first time she met him there was no handshake, she went in for a great big hug, schmoozed with him and told us what a great couple we were.
My uncle was a charmer, sometimes to his detriment but he could sell water to a drowning man and not in a used car salesman kind of way. He was just good with words, always up for a joke, passionate about his hobbies and always seemed perpetually 10-15 years younger than he was. He always made me feel special by treating me like an adult and not like a kid. He could relate to kids by not talking down to them because he enjoyed being around young people. Unfortunately the Mr and I aren't quite as hip and find ourselves with nothing in common to talk about with children. The dreaded "how's school/what grade are you going to be in?" spilling out of my pie hole as I desperately try to stuff that phrase back in because I know how lame that sounded when *I* was their age.
As awesome as those characteristics are in both of them, they also have always marched to the beat of their own drummer. They will show up to once a year gatherings but they're always late. There have been other family gatherings and sometimes they'll show up, sometimes they won't. It drove the rest of my family up the wall not knowing if they could count on them being there or not. Honestly, I think it just depended if they got up that day and felt like coming. While it might be rude to some, I thought it was awesome. They were people living by their own rules and to hell if other people liked the way they lived their lives. It was no skin off their butts and when they die, no one will ever say in their eulogies that they didn't live life their own way. While I never fully adopted their way of thinking most of my life, I find as I get older that I'm leaning more toward it.
I've always fallen in a safer category of going to obligatory family things but doing our own thing for most of my life. We've dealt with in-law situations with the Mr's family where we tried to please people, show up when it was expected and a few times when it wasn't, do nice things, etc and it was never good enough. We still got talked about, we still got criticized and it was very "what have you done for me lately?" (Miss Jackson if you're nasty.) We decided that since we were going to get slammed either way, we were now going to dictate how our time was spent with them and if that meant other people had their undies in a twist...oh well. We now have a relationship with boundaries where everyone knows their roles...we give from the heart with the intent of spending quality time when we're able to give it and they gripe that we never do enough. Got it. As long as everyone is comfortable with their role in that. (We are.)
I always felt like my family wasn't quite that level of judgmental but as they age, I'm finding they are changing too. It seems like people rarely contact us unless they want a favor to the point we get pits in our stomach when the phone rings. The latest is they are trying to dictate who I could and couldn't invite to my birthday celebration in a few months. I told the Mr this was going to happen. I told him it is supposed to be MY gathering and they would make about THEM and I was right. I knew it was coming to this at the last bigger birthday gathering we had and my gift to myself is a drama free birthday when it rolls around. If anyone wants to place the blame on why I didn't get the birthday gathering they wanted, I'll just say "look in the mirror. You all made my birthday about your lack of sucking it up for 2 hours. Happy Birthday to me." I can't really have the kind of birthday I really want to have anymore anyway because Grandma doesn't know me and my uncle stopped coming and it felt forced at the last one. You wouldn't get an invite to a party, show up, not be thrilled with someone on a guest list (who is a wonderful person, by the way) and then go up to the birthday girl/guy and say "why did you invite THEM!?" So what makes you think it's okay to try to control things before hand and insist not only do we not invite a very good friend of ours but that we'd better invite a distant aunt and uncle? Oh you mean the attention seeking emotional vampire of an aunt that isn't happy unless she's complaining every second you see her? The one that they have refused to invite to their birthday dinners for almost 15 years because they want to enjoy their birthday? That one? Double standard much? I mean cripes, is this what happens when you get older? Utter tyranny?
It really sucks because the people I would most like to celebrate with (you know, the ones who could suck it up if they gave a crap about the guest list, which they don't), all live in other states. They are all positive, wonderful people I wouldn't dream of asking to make the drive just for a dinner out and maybe a game night back at the house or something. But damn it would be nice to be around people whose only agenda is to have a low key good time and celebrate me.
I think because I was an outspoken perceived wild child in my youth that people just assume that's how I spend my time 20 years later. People who should know better. Since I've gotten married what part of my life has resembled my teen years? Nothing! We travel. We enjoy at home movie night and board games. We go to farmers markets and antique shops (sorry Mr!). I love cooking wonderful meals to make my man or anyone who gets an invite to our home, happy. I love shootin' the breeze in small, intimate setting and hate crowds or a table with more than 6-8 people at it because I feel it's hard to give people proper attention. It should not be expected that I suddenly want to start changing that to please other people's expectations when they don't have the same expectation for themselves and how they celebrate their own birthdays. WTH? It's not that I'm not grateful to have people who want to celebrate the day of my birth but dictating who I could and couldn't invite when I'm a grown ass woman isn't about what I want, it's about what other people want. If they're that set on having a particular guest list of people they can't even stand, they can go to dinner somewhere, cut some cake and party on without me. I'll be enjoying myself with people who actually are grateful I would want to spend what's supposed to be my "special day" with them.
I know some people who are people-pleasers to the nth degree and so worried about being a martyr or what others will think, that they will delay their own happiness when people don't even ask them to... much less when they do. I know people who just say "screw you", are selfish, think only of themselves and not what they suck out of others with their actions. I don't want to be either of those but I'm going to have to redefine some boundaries with my family and give what I'm able to give because my health is suffering otherwise and I'm not going to do that.
I had to remind myself of the motto on the pic at the top because you get one life and you should live it the way you see fit, not what others expect of you. I find when I have expectations, they're rarely met. So, I'm going to do what *I* want to do in a few months. The Mr and I are moving some funds around and I'm rewarding myself for getting through this summer, this remodel, other people's crap and not smacking someone with a week's vacation. We're hopping in the car, pointing to a spot on the map and getting the hell out of here. So pfffft!
Do you sacrifice your own happiness to attempt to meet the expectation of others or do you do what you want to do (within reason obviously) figuring they're going to talk about you anyway, why not be happy?
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