I feel like I’m distant from my family in a way that most families aren’t supposed to be. I feel like I get judged by not being as responsive or communicative as a family member would be to another. I don’t really feel like I have ties to people outside of my immediate family because I never had a relationship with them growing up. Just because I have met an aunt or uncle doesn’t mean I can flip the switch to be social after not knowing who they were for the first 20 years of my life. I’m not that kind of person.
Most of the time, I feel like I have to talk to people out of obligation. I don’t pick up the phone because I want to, but because it’s socially acceptable to do it as a family member. For instance, my dad expects me to call him Why not? Every father wants to hear for their kids. I do just that, but most of the time we have little to talk about. The conversation usually revolves around sports and helping with computer issues. It’s basically an hour of small talk and long pauses of not knowing what to say next.
My mom and dad divorced when I was eleven. He moved to Arizona for a bit and then moved back to Los Angeles. We were probably 25-30 miles away from each other, but we would only see each other once a year when my sisters and I would sleep over at his place over New Year’s.
My dad left my mom at a time where I was growing to be a man. I ever got to do all of the father, son rites of passages with my dad. I wasn’t taught how to shave. I wasn’t given a talk about sex, or generally how to talk to girls. He did teach me how to drive, which is something I’m grateful for. My mom would scream every time we would get into the car together haha. I just really didn’t have the male role model in my life to teach me the things I needed to know. I had to learn them on my own.
Fast forward to today, I know my dad wants to be more involved in my life, but it’s hard when it seems like we don’t really know each other, and all we have is a phone to connect us.
My grandma was recently diagnosed with cancer. She called me and told me I was the only one who didn’t contact her after the news. What was I to say? “Hey, grandma. I heard you had cancer?” I never really had much of a relationship with my grandma either. It’s hard now for me to switch after decades of not talking to her to start talking to her. I know she may not have too many years, but I don’t know how to handle being more social with my grandma when she also feels like we’re just acquaintances trying to catch up. My sisters have done a better job than I have, but it’s safe to say I’m not them.
It’s hard. For most of my growing life, I felt like I was by myself. I went to a different high school than my sisters. I took the bus to get to school and got home by myself. I travel to my job after school and weekends by myself. I played video games for hours by myself. There were a few Thanksgivings that I spent by myself. We are in a global pandemic which requires us to stay home and guess what, I’m by myself. Being by myself is a comfort zone that I’m used to. I need to be better at sharing myself with others. This is a letter to my loved ones. Don’t believe because I don’t talk to you doesn’t mean I love you any less. I’m still trying to figure out how to share myself with others after years of relying on myself.