The holidays are always filled with mixed emotions for me. I am always grateful to share Christmas and New Year’s with my husband, my brother-in-law and my parents. But, while I realize my blessings, I also know that over those two weeks of stepping away from myself and becoming the social hostess and dealing with the constant noise and chaos that comes with the package, I lose a part of me. It’s the part that is usually strong, confident and whole. The part I struggle to maintain through a life that seems to want to change me. The part that I know and respect but always disintegrates every holiday.
I’m sure you’ve heard or read if before–the difficulty and pain with being the only INFJ in the family. I’m sad to say that even though I understand and accept who I am and I have others in my life who are like me, I still fall into that old way when I’m in close contact with my extremely different family. Thank God my husband is an INFP and he also struggles with the noise, chaos and lack of quiet and alone time. He understand and tries to help, but he has his own battles. But when my parents come to stay with us for a week and a half, it’s usually me who just wants to run away screaming for a quiet spot to cry in.
It’s more than just the constant blaring of the television and the need I feel to entertain them as much as possible. It’s more than just their normal, daily habits and schedules. I grew up with them. I know how they are. No, it’s about me and them together. About our different lives, our different views and personalities. My parents are good people, but they never completely understood me, and I know that they never will.
This is nothing new to me, and I’m sure it’s nothing new to them. So why did I find myself falling into that dark, comforting pit I used to practically live in on a daily basis? The pit I spent so many years climbing out of. The pit that I so easily can fall into in a matter of days. What is wrong with me? Am I that weak? Maybe I never left that darkness. Maybe I’m pretending just to make it through each day.
Here’s the big question: Why do I still so desperately want and need their approval?
Why do I still suffer with anxiety at the thought that I embarrass them? When I’m around them, I turn into somebody else. I’m not the person I’ve worked so hard to find and accept. And I’m not the person who was stuck for so long in her dark pit. I’m somebody else. I’m that little girl who knows she’s weird and different and hates herself so much for it. I still hate that little girl who’s too scared to do anything for fear she’ll embarrass herself or her parents. I hate that little girl who’s mocked and dismissed and ignored. That little girl missed out on so much in her life because she was too shy, too anxious, too overwhelmed to do anything other than the least amount to maintain some kind of comfort zone.
I hate that comfort zone.
I know these are strong, terrible words. These are feelings that, at my age, I wanted to avoid and thought I’d moved on from. But, I have to admit this and I hate it–I still care way too much what my parents think about me. I shrivel inside when I think I’ve disappointed them. I cringe when I think I’ve embarrassed them. I still wish I was a more normal, more conventional daughter in every way.
I’m a writer. Always have been, always will be. I write here on my blog about being an introvert and INFJ. I write about the writing process and self-publishing. I write deep, thoughtful poetry. I write novellas that aim to reach the reader’s heart and soul. I create characters who are so flawed and realistic they could be anyone you know. I believe in second chances, so all of my stories have a hopeful ending. But, while my writing is as necessary to me as breathing, there’s something else. There’s something inside of me that I haven’t released yet. It’s not words. It’s that little girl. The one I hate. The one who won’t stay in the past and insists on finding me and torturing me.
I need to get rid of her.
She’s the reason I still struggle. She’s the reason for my anxiety and the desperate need for any crumb of praise and approval from them. I’m better than her. I’ve outgrown her. I never want to see her again. But, she’s still there and, it seems, ready and eager to come out and torture me.
I’m not going to take it anymore.
This means change. Good change. Positive change. Finally ridding myself of this girl who refuses to remain where she belongs. I will not allow her to come back. Now I know she’s right there, and I know I can be stronger than her. I am stronger than her. She may always be a part of my past, but I won’t allow her in my present or future.
This is an odd post for me, but one I was compelled to write. Call it therapy, healing, a cleansing. I lost myself over the holidays, and I was beginning to disconnect from my current life, including my writing and my husband. But I recognized it and talked to him. I knew exactly what happened. I know that little girl, and I’m glad she came back. This time, instead of punishing myself and hating her, I’m facing her and commanding her to stay where she belongs–in the past.
There is no future for her.
But there is a future for me, for the woman I’ve become and grown to respect and appreciate. It’s been a long, exhausting journey, and I know I’m here to stay. In this new year, I will say a final farewell to that little girl I hated. I won’t hate her anymore. She is in my past where she belongs. Today, this year and the future is for the woman I’ve fought to become. She deserves all of my love and attention.
For those who struggle with childhood issues, big hugs for you. Sometimes I feel like I should write a memoir about that little girl, but that would give her strength. Better to acknowledge her briefly here, send her back to the past and move on with my new year. A year I pray is filled with hope, courage, love and good reading and writing.
I hope your new year is filled with everything that makes you happy, hopeful and proud to be you.