I'm Discovering Myself More Every Day...

I just had this little epiphany tonight.  It was a rough way there, but at least it helped me in the long run.  Basically, my stepdad got mad at me and yelled at me because I didn't tell my mom that I was going to stay at school late.  When I got home, we had a big, long, boring talk about this same old crap we've been talking about for over a year.  Communicating with them often enough.  Having enough "courtesy" to let them know where I am and when I'll be back.  I get it.  I do understand why they like me to tell them these things.  So yes, I am in the wrong in that way.  Am I willing to change that?  Not really.  The problem with THEM is that they make such a big deal out of it.  I can see why I'm in the wrong, but not why it's such a huuuuuuuge deal.

But now I've been thinking.  Using my psychology-major brain.  Remembering things from Personality Theories class last semester.  A little bit of that, combined with my Sims 3 game.  One personality trait in that game (though I'm not sure if it's a trait documented by any professional psychologists) called "Family-Oriented."  I've been thinking about that.  My mother and her entire side of the family is this.  They obviously value very highly having a close relationship with the rest of their family.  My stepdad and his family are the same exact way.  They love to be together.  Their family members are undoubtedly the most important people in their lives.  Friendships and non-family relationships are still important, but obviously not as important as family.  I can tell that because 95% of all the time they spend with others is spent with the family.

I am not family-oriented at all.  Of course I love my family.  They are important to me.  I value other people.  But that's just the thing.  I value other people in general.  Not specifically my family.  Yeah, I love my mom and stepdad, but not anymore than I love my friends.  To my mom, stepdad, and their family, family falls under a very special category, separate from friends, coworkers, and other relationships.  To them, family is sacred.  To me, my family is just another group of people.  I don't love my mom because she's my mom.  I love my mom because she's a member of the human race and my sister in Christ.  I don't love my uncle because he's my uncle.  I love my uncle because he's human.

This causes a clash.  As I have only just begun introspecting on this, I haven't shared this information with my family (and I probably won't unless someone brings it up).  I don't know if they realize it or not.  But they are so family-oriented, they just can't wrap their mind around the fact that I don't feel any need to be extra close to them.  I don't feel any need to respect them any more than I respect a stranger on the street.

I say that I've just discovered this.  I don't mean that I just discovered that I don't feel the need to be close to my family.  What I've just discovered about myself is an extension of that.  My mom, stepdad, and I recently went to counseling to help get our relationship right.  As a result, my mom has really loosened up and tried to be better.  She's not as controlling, she gives me more privacy, and I love it.  But here's what I noticed.  Before counseling, I was thinking that just maybe if she got better, I wouldn't feel so distant and that I would want to be close to her and my stepdad like they want to be to me.  This is not the case.  When she got better, I no longer had hostile feelings towards her, which was expected.  However, no special feelings of closeness developed.  I never had this thought that some "family-oriented" people seem to have like, "Ahh, she's a great mother, and I love her because she's my mother."  To me, it was more like, "Okay, she's easier to get along with now.  I love her very much.  She's a nice lady."  Obviously I still know she's my mother, but to me, the only significance that has is that I popped out her vagina 21 years ago.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Other than that, she's still just another lady that I love very much.

So what I've discovered is that it must not be her past annoyingness that was the reason I never felt any type of special familial love.  It's just part of my personality!  I confirmed this by observing that others are like this too.  I must get this from my father.  His parents aren't bad parents or anything.  He loves his parents and cares about them (although he argues with them quite a bit too), but it's obviously not a huge value for him.  He doesn't talk to his mom every day...not even every week.  Every once in a while, his mom will invite him to dinner (when I go to visit especially), and they enjoy each other's company, but the "bonding" that I see with my mom's side of the family is never present there with my dad's side.  It's not a bad thing...it's still a very pleasant experience eating at my paternal grandmother's house.  My dad is just not a family-oriented person.  He loves his family.  He obviously loves me as he goes out of his way to fly up here and see me a few times a year.  But here's the thing.  Unlike my mom and stepdad, he's not absolutely DYING FOR AFFECTION from me.  He's just happy to see me, and then when he leaves, he moves on with his life.

I get along a lot better with my dad because of this.  We hang out just like friends.

I'm sorry about the scattered-ness of this story...my mind isn't really thinking very orderly right now, probably because I'm still a bit shook up from being yelled at tonight.  Sort of a sudden ending, but I just had to get all my thoughts out there.  Dunno if they make any sense or not...I haven't reread this yet.  If this does make sense to you, let me know.  If it doesn't, let me know.  Regardless, leave a comment telling me what you think and whether or not any of this made any sense.

One more thing I forgot to add.  Babies.  "Family-oriented" people seem to be crazy about them.  Babies and kids.  Hold up a baby to my mom, and she'll get a huge smile on her face, and her voice will suddenly get unnaturally higher, and she'll speak a bunch of gibberish to it.  You can tell she enjoys doing that though.  With kids, she doesn't do the gibberish so much, but she still speaks in a high voice for some reason.  But it's not just her.  Other people do it too.  It's weird.  Anyway, I'm getting off on a tangent again.  My point is that I've noticed that family-oriented people just adore babies and kids.  Even the term family-oriented has come to be related to children.  For example, the TV Guide channel labels kids' TV shows and movies as "family" TV shows and movies.  This seems a bit weird to me...families and kids are not the same thing.  My mom, stepdad, and I are a family, but we wouldn't sit down and watch one of these "family" shows.  A child would.  But I guess that's just how much children define family-orientation.  Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I'm not crazy about children, which is another reason I'm not family-oriented.  It's not that I hate or dislike kids.  But again, to me, kids are just people.  Very little people.  I don't talk to them or treat them any different than any other people.  There's nothing "special" about children to me.  They're just members of the human race who happen to be in an early stage of development.  I love them, but no more than anyone else.

*Sigh* I guess I'm finally done now...sorry for the disorganized rambling again.  I tried my best to organize my thoughts.

RopinTexan RopinTexan
22-25, M
13 Responses Feb 9, 2010

Hi. I'm in complete agreement with your thoughts. I share your values. I've always been standoffish from the rest of my "happy family". What I always wanted was a life of independence, excitement, freedom and peace. From a very young age I wanted to be sent to a boarding school where I could live and study and grow with other children who were more or less like me. That remained an unfulfilled wish. I'm nearly 30 years old now, unmarried, and even to this day I connect better with my peers than my doting family members. One thing that bothers me about the family structure is that it's horizontal, too many rules and protocols. With friends, they're less so, less rigid even. I do feel a strong need for community, but for me that has to be built with friends, not with family, and certainly not these people with whom I don't share too many values.

Thanks for publishing this piece. I'm going to look further, deeper into this issue.

I enjoyed every bit of ur write-up. I am just like u in this regard. I am terrible with staying in touch or calling my family. I even sometimes feel disturbed when my mother calls me or relatives 4 that matter. But I've learnt to contain myself infact I see every one same, family or not. I don't necessarily gv preference to family n my relatives think I'm weird always judging so I avoid them most times. I love love babies because they're so adorable to me but I don't feel they re the essence of family likewise.

Hi<br />
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I totally understand what you're saying, I feel exactly the same way. Why should we have some special bond with family just because we're blood related, and exclude the other 7 billion people in the world? After all, my friends tend to be less judgemental, they don't nag, they don't expect things of me, I don't have to lie to them about the naughty things I do, they lend me money etc..<br />
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However, in front of family I can be looking like an absolute hobo and they'll still accept me. They've made sure I'm not hungry my entire life, and if I was hungry, my parents would go without food to feed me. My parents would die for me. I'm not saying this makes them saints or that they should be treated more specially than the next human being. But when at home, I get to live for free, my parents look after me without a second thought. I think there are only a few rare people out there who would take me in and buy me unneccesary luxuries without expecting something in return. I know for a fact my parents only want the best for me, even when they are nagging (hey my mum is violent and bipolar), because they are the only people who have let me live off them for 20 years, hoping that I get a good education so I can have a better life than they did, for absolutely nothing in return. <br />
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When **** really hits the fan, your parents will be there along with good friends and maybe a few boys who want to get in your panties after they've helped you.<br />
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You sound as though you believe in Christ, so let's take his example (Even though I am NOT Christian lol). Christ loves everyone equally for sure, but you like to feel you have a personal relationship with Christ, right? As in He understands your motives, ideas, dreams and thoughts individually to everyone else? Well if you are really trying to love every human equally then you will give your parents the type of love and attention that they specifically desire as parents. Just in the same way you have a different relationship with each of your friends, and you give each of them the piece of you that they like to see. <br />
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My point is, your love can be shown in different forms to different people depending on circumstance; different but equal. Nobody wants to feel as though they are just another number or ob<x>ject to you, they want to feel special including your parents, just as you would like to feel Christ understands you individually.

Hmmm...that's a really good analogy in those last two paragraphs. You apparently know quite a bit about Christianity for not being a Christian. Anyway, thanks for the insight.

Wow, cool! I don't know many other people like this either...just one or two. Good to have someone to add to my "non-family-oriented" group :-)

I can completely related !....reading this was like reading a chapter from my soul but i didnt quite know how yo verbalize it ....i really thought i was one of the very little if not any at all who feels this way....and this was enlightening ....and it was completely out of coincidence i stumble upon this ..."everything happens for a reason"...reading this was as if i wud have written it

I've never heard that song...does it have to do with not being family-oriented?

Interesting...like I said, maybe if I ever have a baby, I'll become baby-crazy too. I've never noticed that babies like it when you talk to them like an idiot though...I've never really tried though. Honestly, I don't really even know HOW to talk like that. But they still seem to me when I talk like normal...<br />
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It annoys the crap out of me when people talk like that though, no matter who they're talking to.

I can't edit that comment. I wanted to say "bc babies LIKE it" -- not the adults, though some adults may like it too.

You know, I was never baby-crazy either until I got pregnant. Then I all of a sudden loved babies. Now all my kids are school-age and I'm back to normal. One thing as a parent that I did learn though, is that people talk weird to babies because they LIKE it -- they really do, or at least they seem to like it bc they smile more. So even I started doing that. I learned that by watching someone else talk to my first baby. Poor, guinea-pig of a first baby.

Yeah, I've been told I'm an insightful person very often, Toby. What do you mean by "interacting with, to the conclusion?"

Yeah, I believe I saw that group, but I think you have it backwards. I believe it was "I think friends are the family you pick for yourself." How is it fair that you're forced into a relationship with people you have no connection with other than a genetic connection? It's not.<br />
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I've seen men who adore babies too, though. I guess it's mostly dads with their babies. Maybe if I become a dad, my love for my baby will cause me to act like an idiot around him/her, but I hope not.

Yeah, we are opposites...I can't seem to stay close to people who ARE my own flesh and blood, but I find it very easy to stay close to some of my outside friends.

Well, it sounds to me like both of us are the way we are because of what we DIDN'T get as kids. You don't have a big family, so you crave what you don't have enough of--Family.<br />
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I, on the other hand, have a huge family that constantly wants to spend time with me, and since I spent my entire childhood with my family, I crave what I never got enough of--Time AWAY from my family.<br />
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It is quite nice and peaceful to come to terms with who I am instead of blaming my problems on myself or on others :-)