I am at a Crossroads.
I am at a crossroads.
At some point in your life, several points probably, you will face a situation that forces you to leave behind everything you know, everything that has ever held meaning to you.
Or as Tracy Chapman put it, “We gotta make a decision. Leave tonight or live and die this way.”
This is where I find myself tonight, looking down one well worn path paved with familial discord, hurt, and bad memories, and a second path, paved with the unknown. Both are dark, but one shines with at least a little brightness at the path’s end.
Everything is pointing toward leaving my life and family behind me in the dust.
See, I have never known a life without chaos. My parents are the least predictable people I have ever met. They are good people, to be certain. But you do not want them as parents.
Case in point, I am about to turn twenty one years old. I am not allowed to drive or use a cell phone. I am not allowed to wear makeup or heels, nor am I allowed to shave my legs. I have to ask before I use any electronic devices and I am not allowed to make plans of my own. Having personal time to myself almost never happens, and if I am told to do anything, I am expected, demanded, to complete the task immediately or else be rebuked for it.
It is also stressful to simply be in the house because there is the looming notion that everything I am doing is being watched, and analyzed, and picked apart, and that anything I do could end in either berating or punishment.
My parents operate a system in which as a ‘child’, I must earn specific life milestones, such as a driver’s license, going out to grab a coffee with a friend, or the right to shave my own god damn legs. “Getting into trouble” or doing anything that induces any sort of disappointment or irritation on their end basically sets me back on the path to earning anything, so much so that I cannot do freaking anything.
I am also talked to in a way that makes me feel unimportant, my opinion is rarely accounted for and on those occasions where it is recognized, my feelings are ignored.
And I have to reveal here, I am not a drug addict, I am not pregnant, I am a well rounded and responsible young adult. The ‘rents did not do a terrible job. I’m just miserable in their house.
Unfortunately, I have had a lifelong devastating fear of losing people. If I leave the nest now, my parents will not be holding my hand, patting me affectionately on the back, and wishing me well. They have made it infinitely clear that this will be a slap in the face. My mother will likely never speak to me again, and my relationship with my father will be strained from here on out since he will have to be the middle man between me and my mother.
The very idea terrifies me, but as I stand at this crossroads, I am realizing that for every twist and turn, someone else has been driving the vehicle of my life. I have not been behind the wheel at all.
There is a small voice inside that speaks out in defense of my parents decisions and their treatment of me. I have not been an angel by any means; I recognize my own negative attitude, and the semi consistent resentment I exhibit toward them. And while they have even admitted that I meet about 90% of their demands, there are a couple of instances in which I have verbally accepted their orders and then went off and did my own thing.
And as a child or teenager, this is unacceptable. But I am nearly twenty one now. Should I not have the basic human right of prerogative? Why can I not chose for myself what I think is right and wrong? Why can I not make mistakes on my own? Why can’t I make my own decisions?
They assure me constantly that I will, eventually. I have only to earn their trust first.
I seem to have fucked that up. They are already not trusting people by nature, and as a teenager I did some things that bludgeoned any faith they had in me. (I.e. At 16, I used my mother's makeup knowing I was not allowed to use makeup period; then after collapsing under the weight of a failed relationship at 17, I turned to internet dating for reassurance, which was stupid on my part, and disapproved of by my parents.)
I have spent the last number of years trying to mend these breaks, by remaining within their confines and trying to keep my frustration within the house under control, to varying degrees of success. But something always happens to collapse my emotional shield, and I always end up imploding right in front of them. They don't like to see any sort of divots in my emotional walls. They want to see composure and niceties at all times, in order to prepare me for the outside world.
This makes sense on the surface. I understand where they are coming from, and when I say this it sounds like an excuse, but I am human. When I reach a certain level of frustration, I cannot keep the walls up consistently. For them to expect kindness and respect, I completely understand. But to expect a Stone Wall of perfection, and to put contingencies upon my life and future, and happiness, because of these expectations… I don’t think it’s okay anymore.
Something I have to understand is that being this limited is not just limiting my everyday life, it is limiting my future. Remaining here is damaging to the people around me. And to me.
And there is my problem. I consider other people and how my consequences affect them far more seriously than I consider myself, and how these consequences affect me.
I am tired to being treated this way. I am tired to being unable to determine who I am. I deserve basic human rights. I deserve to have some prerogative. I deserve to help myself.
There is something to be said for cutting losses, in exchange for some freedom. I could almost deal with the extreme control (almost) if I felt like a valued member of the family. It could not be plainer that my only use in the household is as a chore fulfiller. The emotional closeness is as fleeting as an alley cat.
I have been asking myself many questions as well, such as Why am I here? What do I want out of life? What do I care about most? What do I need?
Among these questions, I have found just one solid answer. But it the one that will lead me to the right path.
I need an identity.
Between my parent’s constant attempts to mold me into something I may or may not need to be, and an equally manipulative ex boyfriend, I seem to have lost all sense of self, and pride. This lack of identity has made independence of any kind impossible, and has me feeling like a lost puppy. Where once I was sure of what I wanted out of life, and my future, I now question both my capability and my purpose. I feel alone. Completely alone.
And ironically, this is my solution. I must be alone, away from this chaos, away from these people, to find myself and some peace. I need to reorganize, find balance, and figure out what the hell I’m doing.
More than anything, I have to learn to depend on myself above anyone else. Self sufficiency is the key to success. I have to learn how to take a step outside my front door and be unafraid to keep walking. I have to learn how to wake up in the morning and ask myself, “What do I want to do today?” I have to learn how to find within myself the answers to tough questions, rather than calling Daddy to the rescue.
And for the love of God, I have to learn how to shave my damn legs.
So, at this crossroads, I look left and right, and for once I find myself faced with the conundrum of having… a choice.
I have to admit, it is exceptionally confusing.
But it is rare that one’s heart and mind align when faced with a conundrum such as this, and this case, both are telling me to get out of dodge. Both are telling me that solitude is necessary for healing, and for growth.
So, I’m just going to have to start walking.