Sunday, February 19, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are?


Tomorrow my brother and I are driving north to the 1000 Islands to pack that last of my parents' stuff in a moving truck and drive it down to Syracuse. They are moving back after fourteen years of living on the St. Lawrence. The reasons for their move include worrying about proximity to doctors and hospitals as well as the fact that the Islands are pretty desolate for eight months of the year.

I'm getting ready for bed now and feeling tensed up about a lot of things. I have to get up early to await my brother picking me up to drive up there, it will be a full day of work, and there is all the familial stuff to deal with as well.

For years I have been the idiotic little brother/younger son in the family, or at least this is how I have felt and how I have believed I've been treated. I was the kid who made mistakes, who lied, who was consistently not working up to my potential. If my report card had four A's the focus was on the B- in whatever subject I had let slide. If I wanted to do something, I needed someone to watch over me as I did it. If my brother had done something at ten years old, I probably needed to wait until I was eleven or twelve. I was always a little kid.

Since then, I've grown up in most ways, and things have changed. Tomorrow, my family is expecting me to make the decisions about how to load the truck, where to put things when they come down here, and how to get the move accomplished. I'm sitting here tonight, thinking about all this, and trying not to lose myself in anxiety. It's not easy for me.

I have long wished for my family to listen to the things I say and to give me faith in my own abilities. Now, with that happening, I'm resistant. What am I, fickle? I suppose I am. But I'm also struggling with the idea that I am not the person I was framed to be, or that I always felt I was framed to be.

I don't know how many of you were pigeonholed by your family as the funny one, the angry one, the talkative one, the dancer, the athlete, the worker, the slacker, the success, the failure, the good son, the bad daughter, or any number of other labels. Those labels stick. It's something I try hard to resist doing to my own daughters and yet I find myself falling into that habit. My wife catches me most of the time and pushes me in other directions, but still, there I am.

And I am most guilty of doing it with myself as well. I have seen myself as all the things that people have labeled. Now, I'm trying to envision myself as... I'm not sure. I'm not really trying to label it so much. Instead, I'm just trying to be aware of what's going on and not get too anxious about everything. Still, it's hard.

When my mother calls me and tells me that tomorrow I'm in charge of everything, my first instinct is to scream, "no, I'm not!" but I have to calm myself and say instead, "I'm not sure any one of us has to be in charge. We can do this together."

When my brother says, "we had better have the whole house packed and be on the road by noon," I want to ask him if we're not who he's going to punish. Instead, I tell him that there's no good way to guess when we will finish and that we might just want to take care of what time we get started. That's all we can control right now.

And when I realize that I have lost the external hard drive for my computers, I want to scream at myself, "you idiot! You careless, irresponsible, child! What is wrong with you?" I hear it in my voice even now after I have searched the house and come up empty handed. I feel like the child I was framed to be instead of the man that I've become and am becoming. It's difficult to breathe and take the time to remind myself that it's okay and that I can handle it. It's hard not to be the child I no longer am.

Tomorrow will be an interesting day filled with all sorts of challenges. Tonight, all I have to do is to remember that I get to invent myself in any way I choose even if history and other people seem to be pushing against me. I get to choose. I get to create. I get to, in a manner of speaking, write on until I figure out who I mean to be.

So, I might as well write on.