Oh boy. This is a doozy…for me anyway. Are your parents super proud of you and supportive of all your dreams? That’s great! Congratulations. Be grateful because not everyone is so lucky.
I’ve made it pretty clear I had numerous issues with my mother. I believe that she was a narcissist. She was so good at convincing others what a terrible daughter I was and basically a terrible person. I just read an article and posted it in the group page about how narcissists get away with abusing you while still looking like a good person to everyone else. It’s really good and totally representative of how my relationship with my mother played out.
Do you have parents that are not so supportive? Do they want you to do what they think you should do? Does it matter to them what truly lights you up? Are they behind you in your dreams and goals? It can be really difficult to go against your parents wishes. You know that ultimately (most of the time) they want what is best for you. But their definition of that may not always match up with your definition.
My father was very supportive in making sure I got a college education. In fact, he paid for the whole thing. All seven years of it. Yes, seven years. I was not the best student but I finally got that piece of paper. When I decided to pursue a career in radio, he wasn’t very happy about it. He would often say he wished I would get into another field that was a little more lucrative. Because no matter what you think, most people are not making Howard Stern or Elvis Duran money. I get it...he was worried about my future and I can’t be mad over that. But it was important to me to me to enjoy what I did. And I love working in morning radio. It’s caused me a lot of heartache over the years so maybe I should have taken his advice and gone into another field, but things have played out the way they have.
My mother on the other hand was supportive of my radio dream. I heard through the years that she would often brag about me to her friends. She never really told me that she was proud or liked to brag about me. She would listen to the shows I was on if it were convenient for her. If she happened to be in the car she would tune in my current station. But I think it was mostly about how my being somewhat of a local celebrity made her look good. I do know that my mother wanted me to go after my dreams. I do know that for sure and I give credit where credit is due.
But my mother was very upset when I moved to the Jersey Shore for the first time in my early 30’s. I’m not sure why. We didn’t see each other all that much other than holidays. But she seemed to take that very hard. My brother and sister had both moved far away and maybe she just felt like she was being abandoned by all her kids. But it wasn’t my responsibility to stay somewhere I didn’t want to be just to keep her happy. I think Joe and I moving an hour an and a half away also caused some issues with his family. But I don’t feel we should be expected to put our lives and our happiness on hold. That doesn’t seem fair to anyone involved, especially us. That’s just the way I feel about it. You may feel differently but I have to live my life as I see best. Just as you do.
Don’t let expectations from you parents hold you back from how you truly want to live your life. They really shouldn’t have expectations of you other than what you want. But we know that is not always the case. If you don’t want to join the family business that could be a tough conversation…especially if it’s just always been a given that is what you will do. But think about when that expectation started. Were you ever actually asked if that was what you wanted?
Here’s the thing, you get this one life. You have to live it the way you know will make you happiest. If that means disappointing some of the people in your life, then so be it. You aren’t responsible for their happiness. I’m not saying to be a jerk. Just know that it is okay to break away from expectations that don’t match up to yours. No matter who it is. Parents, children, spouse, friends. This is your life and only you can make yourself happy. You cannot depend on others to do that for you.
I will finish off with this. I had a very strained relationship with my mother. I tried for years to make it better between us. Yes, I definitely could have done things differently and made a better effort. But she could have as well. Just like this article about narcissism says…once my mother realized that I was calling her out on her treatment of me and wouldn’t tolerate it anymore, she replaced me. She became very close to my cousin and she became the daughter to her she always wanted me to be. One who doted on her and worshiped her even though she treated me badly a lot of the time. She didn’t have the same expectations of my cousin. In fact, she had no expectations of my cousin. She could do no wrong in my mothers’ opinion. I however, never seemed to be able to do anything right in her mind. It may be awful to say but in the year in a half since my mother’s passing, I have felt a weight lift off my shoulders. The weight of constantly being made to feel like a terrible daughter and hence a terrible person in her mind. It was so difficult being the bad guy all the time. I knew the truth but she made herself out to be the victim and me to be a horrible, selfish, insensitive person who didn’t care about her at all. And I’m sure there are still a lot of her friends that do think I was a horrible daughter. It honestly does bother me but I know there is nothing I can do about it. I also know the real story and they don’t.
So keep all this in my mind when it comes to difficult family relationships. Nobody should have expectations of you that don’t match up with your own dreams and goals. After all this seriousness, it’s even more of a “I wish it were cocktail Friday, Thursday” but we are almost there. Hang in there. And make today your best day yet!
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