My story always starts with my childhood. I have settled that it is both my gift and my curse. I have narrated over and over the passing of my mother that changed the course of our lives. Today, I began wondering and wandering- would our lives ever be different if she were still in it? We were born poor and my mother was not born with a silver spoon either. My father was a high school dropout turned PUJ driver. That is still going to be a hell of a struggle for the family to work TOGETHER-to change our lives. If it wasn’t for my father’s slipped disc four years after my mom died, he wouldn’t even consider going home to start his small automotive shop. But that’s the thing- we would have still been TOGETHER and no amount of triumph today would take the pain of being stripped off of ones very basic need. To belong and be accepted.
I think what I hated the most about losing my mother was that we were brought to stay with relatives after she died. At a young age, I felt that I had to work my way again to belong and be accepted. It wasn’t easy at all, I was lost. I felt lost for so long. I guess when finances are concerned, relatives will have a difficulty taking on the care and responsibility. Raising children requires money and resources, it would take someone with a generous and kind heart to take the challenge and use ones resources to provide for children not their own. I grew up with the thought that I need to earn my keep. Of course I dream that one day we will be loved just like their own.
Fast forward, I worked my way through fending for myself, making mistakes and learning from them. I’ve had several embarrassing decisions and ridiculous ones; that thinking about it, could have gotten my life worse. I’ve gotten myself into numerous bad choices of relationships because I wanted to belong. I thought I will get over that crippling need for acceptance and belongingness when I got married-I was completely wrong.
I married into an unusual family. My husband’s anti-social but when I met him, he looked fine plus he was and still is handsome. When he brought me to his family’s home, I was unsure of the move. At that point in my life, I was not sure where I was heading-literally, so I went with the flow. I moved a lot and have known little to no permanence. When he asked me to move in to their house because he was tired of hauling my things from one place to next, I was scared but said ‘okay’. Damn, I regretted that because this decision got me stuck here. Unhappy, dissatisfied, unaccepted, an outsider.
I have been married for ten years now. The first few years of adjustment were easy- everyone did their part and made an effort to get along. But when you’re living with in-laws, it is difficult to gain control over your family. Some might think that it should have been my husband’s full effort to get us out of here but no, it was both ours. I take accountability over that because from the beginning-I knew it wouldn’t be an easy decision for him and I have to gather the strength for us both. I was warned by those closest to me. Living with in-laws is a nasty business. I overestimated my flexibility. For every couple arguments with my husband, decisions and what not- it always feels that everybody looks at me like the villain. His family members are emotionally invested and cares for him so much that they couldn’t draw the line of where their ties has to loosen. I was not accepted, how do I know? My husband told me so. He told me not to intentionally hurt me- he just blurted it matter of factly. That did not hurt less though. That also stuck with me. My mouth says, the hell I care but my heart would still want otherwise. I was bleeding.
It took a while before I got the courage to allow my family to visit and stay, and when they’re here- they’re ushered with an unwelcoming face. Over the years, this caused me to revolt. I got angry and it consumed me. I screamed inside that I deserve better and my family deserve better because my husband is treated like royalty at my side of the family. I hated their arrogance and their pride. They even suggested I would have to make the effort because they said it’s who they are- the reserved and not confrontational bunch. They’re forgetting- we are way past that. Too much bad blood has been drawn. My principle is this, you make the effort no matter how anti-social you are if it matters to you. I am not in for that crap. It’s not my point here, though.
While preparing for my husband’s salad today, it dawned on me. I was very angry because all along I wanted for them to accept and love me and they don’t. They never will. That debilitating need to belong was masked with wanting to be respected and acknowledged. Am I kidding myself? My gosh, I am still inside that little prison of needing to be accepted. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. No wonder I try so damn hard to make people feel accepted and acknowledged, thus my unusual sense of social justice yet of dormant action. I did not understand that part a bit but it slowly opened my eyes.
I forgot I am a warrior and I build my own fortress because God brought me love from different sources- drawn from the bond that is stronger than blood. Of amazing people who proved that love is the undeniable energy from the inside. I am an outsider of this house and family and that is okay. I will always be an outsider and why should that bother me? I wouldn’t want my kids to beg for acceptance. I want them to be loved because they deserve it not because their parents pay their way through it. My grandmother loved us when she had money and when she had none. My mother though begged for them not to take us back to the slums where we were born. We couldn’t be with them. If we were with them, it wouldn’t be a better place either as they were both drunks. Nevertheless, I would not have to fight hard to earn my keep. It did not matter though. When she died, she couldn’t stop us from going home to the slums, either. The only place we felt we belonged. Now, home is where we make it. Without love, respect cannot reside, and vice versa. In my fight to get respect, it cost me my peace, my self-worth, and my sanity. Why do we often fall into the trap of unrequited love? Because we love drama. It hurt when you married yourself into a family that doesn’t accept you. But it is liberating to realize that you don’t need to. I will liberate from this shackle. If it costs you your emotional and mental well-being, it is not a worthy cause. All I need is my husband’s love, acceptance and respect in order for this marriage to work. I have to gather my whole courage and voice because I was too embarrassed to acknowledge this reality. That all of this stops with me. It took me a very long while. Today, I rest my case.