A couple weeks back, my brother visited me. It was great. I haven't seen him in over a year. And while I was anxious about him visiting, I learned something interesting about myself that I didn't realize. I've changed.
What does that mean? What do I mean by I've changed?
Over time we all change, and while that's a given, you don't realize it until you're faced with past assumptions of who you were. Talking with my brother, I told him not to assume that because I'm your sister and we grew up together, that I'm the same person I was when I was living at home six years ago. And in retrospect, I think that was a general statement we make about the past 'us', versus the 'us' today, and the 'us' we strive to be. I believe a more accurate way to talk about one's change, is to realize that we grow into our own, especially when we are apart. Shifts in personality traits and defining characteristics do occur over time; it is expected over a life-span. And while research suggests that it occurs for the better, in the moment of tension between who you are now, and who people think you are based on the past, it can seem very destructive.
It felt destructive to assert myself, to a past idea of who I was. And I had to take a step back and talk through that with my brother. We learned a lot in that conversation, but it left a mark in my mind about myself, today. Even as I strive to be the person I want to be.
I feel like I'm writing/talking in abstract now.
So let me try to say this another way.
We come to a point in our lives, where we are faced with three images of ourselves. Unlike the song, "Man in the Mirror" where there is one reflection of one's self, at this point in our journey, it's more like the ghosts of Christmas, in "Scrooge." Here there are three mirrors, or ghosts, that show us our past, our present, and our future. They show us, who we were, who we are, and who we can be.
The family that we have been with for years have an understanding of who we were before we separated and went on our own. And now that we've been on our own for some time we've developed some into the person we are today, as we strive towards being the person we want to be through the decisions we make.
But how do we engage and maintain old relationships that have failed to change, primarily because we have separated for a time? When it comes to romantic relationships, you break up with your partner, because it isn't working out. But if you intend to hold steadfast to that relationship, as we would do with family, we must recognize that we are bound to have conflicts with our past. Either through falling into habits we strive to break, or through the tension between those who still see our past, and not our present.
Yesterday, while I was on my five-hour haul back to PA. I realized that I have to deal with this fact of life when it comes to someone special. We have grown apart, and I want to change that. But how do I do that? This person is family, and the dynamics of our relationship has been altered. I'm an adult now. The issue is not a matter of respect, love, or honor, but about growing together, as you would a partner for life. This is so much harder when you realize that it might not be a smooth transition; that you might be opposites now.
One thing is for sure, I'm committed to making this work. I don't have an answer to my question. But I hope that as I go into the new year, I can make a commitment with a plan or a way to build our relationship and reconnect. I know it won't be the same as 10 or 15 years ago. So I look forward to a closer relationship.