A recurring series that I’ve been concentrating on here is a little ditty I call “Freedom Fridays” wherein I detail for you all the awesome things I’ve discovered in the new-found freedom. I think it’s important to remind myself how truly awesome it can be to be single and free. And I’m willing to let you have a glimpse of it too!
Today I think I’m going to take a moment to reflect on the relationship I’ve been able to build with my family in the two years I’ve been single. My family has always been particularly close, even my extended family. I’ve had the fortune to be close to aunts, uncles, and cousins growing up. I am an only child, so I consider my cousins the closest thing to a sibling I will ever have. Growing up we spent holidays together, traveled on small vacations sometimes.
Sometimes an immature love is so unwilling to spend time apart you forget what you used to love doing. And that’s exactly what happened to me. I forgot that I loved hanging out with my family, so as invitations to travel and visit came in, I was less likely to accept them. It was important to me to be with The Boyfriend, not spend a week at the beach with my cousin, or zoom off to Atlanta for a ballgame. A couple of times I took The Boyfriend to visit, of course, but it was not often enough and it was never spur of the moment. It’s a lot to impose yourself on an entire family with a significant other (who isn’t your husband!). And most of the time the invitations weren’t offering to pay for me AND whoever I wanted to bring along, which is totally understandable. To be honest, sometimes I didn’t like having The Boyfriend around my family because he could be so alienating and gruff. True, I loved him, and his gruffness was all a joke, but explain that to someone who met him only at holidays! And furthermore, when you live with someone, your family assumes quite correctly that you have your own issues to indulge. There are bills to pay, rooms to clean, and real life to attend to. So I felt like I was close to my family, but we didn’t spend much quality together, and I can name at least one vacation I declined to stay behind with The Boyfriend. I wasn’t in tune with what my family needed from me. And they do need things. My cousins need someone to listen to them, someone to have fun with them. My aunts and uncles need companionship, quality time. And my mother….oh, my mother. My mother needs me, too. I am an only child. My mother needs my attention, my affection, and to feel that bond. But it’s beyond the fact that these people need me–I need ALL these things from them, too!
The great part about being free is that my family wants to see me. I’m the person they want to be around again–finally! If there is one thing to know about the Free Me, it’s that I am free-spirited and absolutely down to have a great time. I am no longer angry for no reason, burdened by stress, or in a general sour mood that you would’ve found me in previously. My cousins, especially my female cousins younger than I, are glad to have that back. I was able to help a cousin move into her first dorm room, and help her adjust to college life. As a thank you, she took me to Orlando with her for a week to play on the beach, visit the Space Center (I saw a shuttle landing!), and play at Disney. I’ve been to Las Vegas twice this year with my older, wiser cousin who loves to have fun. In fact, he just invited me on a cruise next month. I’ve visited his house for a baseball game, too. My uncle and I were able to take some trips to football games, just the two of us. I had been to many games with him before, but never had we traveled alone. Definitely memories that will last. My mother has come to stay with me in town a few times and I’ve taken her to my favorite places to eat and socialize.
Every familial tie I have has been reinvigorated because *I* have been reinvented and it’s someone my family likes to spend time with. I am so blessed to have them. They pulled me through a rough patch, and have rewarded me much more than I deserve. Even if we hadn’t taken trips, the fact that I am available and plugged in to their lives means so much to me. I am able to concentrate on them and working on our relationships because I’m not worrying about the day-to-day drama in my crumbling and stifled relationships.
Of course, it’s nice that I am single and can have this bond with my family. But the best part about being single and reconnecting is that I’ve realized that I want these people in my life–even if I have a boyfriend, husband, whatever. I don’t want another relationship to cause me to pull away from my family. I did it to myself, and I don’t want to do that again. I promise here and now to never ever forget how great my family is and how important it is to listen to their needs.