Lesson #5: I need to be the good daughter.
This is my first real post about family. Family - parents in particular - if you're reading this, I love you. I can't write this blog without tearing into all the things about our family that are hard and painful for me. I hope you can accept that or will quietly close the browser window and that can be that. Thanks for being parents that I know can tolerate the discomfort that may come with this project. With that, let's talk about:
The Good Daughter.
The Good Daughter does what needs to be done.
The Good Daughter recognizes she's an only child and needs to take care of her parents emotionally and sometimes physically.
The Good Daughter needs to avoid things that are stressful or worrisome so that her parents won't be stressed and worried.
The Good Daughter helps mediate conflict between family members and parents and grandparents. Usually with humor. Also with good behavior.
The Good Daughter also has to be good at work and in therps. She needs to do a good job at work so her lady bosses will approve of her. And she needs to learn things and adapt quickly in therps so that her therps will say she's doing a good job.
The Good Daughter can't make mistakes.
The Good Daughter needs to always be doing a good job.
I need to be The Good Daughter. ALWAYS.
It has shaped so much of my life both consciously and unconsciously that I couldn't list all the ways even if I tried. At the heart of it, my need to wear this particular label and embody this particular type of person is the result of believing that if I'm good enough and follow the "right" paths all the time, then bad things won't happen to people I love. Everyone will just magically live forever and no one will get sick and no one will abandon me.
Pretty good trade off if you ask me.
Except of course that life doesn't work that way. Our behavior can't prevent life and death from happening. It can't fix other people's problems and other people's relationships with each other. It can't make people love us in the ways that we want. It can't keep people from going away.
The Good Daughter can't come at the price of living my own life in the way that I choose - it can't be a crutch that I use to avoid taking risks and making mistakes and feeling tough feelings like anger and shame and fear. But it has. It has for a long, long time.
Shedding The Good Daughter skin is very daunting to me. It happens in big ways (I'm traveling by myself! I'm leaving this toxic relationship without approval from anyone!) and small ways (I'm not coming over this weekend! I'm not going to tolerate these snippy remarks at the dinner table!) ------- Just kidding, they all still feel like big ways. Because it's so easy - it's so easy for me to slip into the Good Daughter skin and just make my decisions based on that familiar autopilot. Because I've done it for so long. And let's be clear, my life hasn't turned out badly because of it. I just don't think it's been as full as it could've been. So I need to make more mistakes. And I need to say more things, even at the expense of hurting or distancing myself from people I love. And I need to take more risks and do things that worry or upset or confuse people. The Good Daughter can be a part of me, just not all of me.
The Good Daughter wants to scream and delete this post and call her parents and apologize for not coming over more. But instead I'm going to hit publish.