I have been struggling a lot with the need to move out of my parents house. I call it a need because it feels necessary, but it is not what I desire. My parents have been incredibly gracious to let us stay with them for the past three (nearly four) months, but it has not been ideal for them. In fact it has been really difficult for them.
Over the years since my siblings and I moved out my parents have found ways for coping with their high stress jobs, ways which involve keeping a structure and orderliness to their lives that is greatly disrupted by me, my husband, and our two children. They have been gracious (incredibly gracious), but this living arrangement is taking its toll on them, on their work, on their sleep, on their stress level.
They have begun to voice that.
And my response has been entirely emotional. It's not that I don't hear and understand their concerns, it's that those concerns flood me with my own emotional responses.
I hold within me an internal battle. On the one hand I understand all of my parents reasons and justifications for wanting us to get our own place. I feel for them, I am concerned for them, I want them to have their needs for stress management, order, and structure met. And on the other hand I have a deep desire to continue living here.
I am a 31 year old married mother of two who wants to live with her parents.
My dad thinks something is wrong with me. He can't understand why I would want to live here. He would never have wanted to live with his parents, or my mom's parents either. He can't understand my emotionality over the situation. And so he gets frustrated with it. He makes comments about me being irrational and unrealistic. He says I'm not understanding what he's really saying and I'm jumping to conclusions that I shouldn't jump to.
What my father doesn't understand is that you can't change or even effect how someone will feel about something you do. Your intentions can be entirely pure, healthy, and straightforward, but that doesn't mean that they won't hurt someone else. Ultimately you are not responsible for how someone else receives your actions or words.
In starting the conversation about us finding our own place to live, my dad is acting in the best interest of his sanity and the health and sanity of his wife. He is continuing to reach out a helping hand to us, offering to help us find that new place and even help us with the expense of it if necessary. He is doing everything he can to communicate love while also setting a boundary for himself.
But, despite the fact that I understand (and can even respect) that, it still makes me feel hurt. It still stirs up feelings in me that my dad doesn't seem to understand or validate. It still stirs up old feelings of rejection from my father.
My dad is not responsible for keeping me from feeling that, in fact there is probably nothing he can do that will keep me from feeling that. What he can do is give me space and freedom to feel that emotion without taking it personally. What he can do is validate to me that it is an understandable and ok emotion to feel. What he can do is show acceptance of me by accepting this emotion that I feel. Because when he doesn't validate this emotion, it is an easy jump for me to feel more rejection and feel like he doesn't validate me.
I, on the other hand, have a deep responsibility to process these emotions I'm feeling. To look them square in the face and ask why moving out of my parents spurs such a visceral response in me.
I need to sit with the feeling of vulnerability that moving out floods me with. I need to sit with the worries about what moving out might mean for me if Bryan's cancer gets worse. I need to sit with my desires to not live alone and to have community with me during this time (and pretty much always). I need to sit with the feelings of homelessness that moving out fills me with.
You would think that getting a place of our own again would make me feel more settled and more like I have a home. But, I think a true feeling of home only comes from a place that has both history and a future for you.
I never felt truly at home in our apartment in Seattle. I never felt truly at home in either of our homes in Prague. There was always a sense of restlessness in those places. A sense that they were temporary and would not be long lasting homes for me. There was always both a lack of roots and an inability to see a future there. And I know that if we move out the same would be true of our new place. But, in an odd way that isn't true of my parents house.
They have lived in this house for something like sixteen years. I have a lot of history in this house. It has been a safe-haven for me for a long time. And I am fairly certain that it will be for a long time to come. My parents aren't going anywhere. They are stable. This house is stable.
And with all of the instability in my life right now I cling to this house as a security blanket. Unhealthy? Yes, perhaps. But, when you are in survival mode, when your world is spinning unstably, you seek whatever you can to help you stabilize, to help you regulate, to help you keep going.
Living at my parents house, with other people, being cared for in one of the only places on earth that really feels like home for me has been enormously stabilizing for me. And even though I know that it can't last, that it shouldn't last, that it's not entirely healthy for me or my parents, I am still scared to let it go. Is that so wrong?
Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany