“That makes me uncomfortable”

It is January 2nd, 2018. I had a great time seeing in the new year. We stayed up much too late/early and I got a minimal amount of sleep but January 1st was a great day. I am feeling happy, I have some attainable goals set for myself and I took the first step toward one of my goals this morning. Life feels pretty good.

I had a therapy appointment this morning. So much was on my mind thanks to an email my sister and I received after Christmas. Do you ever mull something over so much and talk out a situation in such detail that when you go to tell someone else what’s happening, you hardly know where to begin?? That was my delima last night as I tried to sleep. I knew I needed to discuss this situation with my therapist, I just didn’t know how to begin. After some deep breathing exercises, I finally drifted off to sleep. So what was the big issue in this email??

My dad, widowed last year, has decided to enter the world of online dating. He sent my sister and I a draft of his dating profile and wanted our feedback. Now, had I been honest with how this request made me feel (fecking uncomfortable), and had I seen that as an option, I could have avoided a good amount of internal angste. I could have avoided the flurry of heated messages back and forth with my sister (who was also set off by this email). Instead, being the “good” daughter, I did my best to send constructive criticism in the kindest way possible, leaving my anger at the door. My response created another email and dialogue from my dad, none of which made me comfortable.

Why is standing up and speaking my mind so difficult when it comes to family??

When I was young, I was raised to go with the flow, be obedient, not talk back and I was never allowed to disagree with my parents. They were the law and they embraced that role. The were very strict and did not sway. Even saying the word “no” from one of us got an over the top response and a good scolding. Over the past few years, I have gotten better at speaking up for myself when it comes to work related things. It makes me feel good when my comments are taken into consideration and my opinion respected. However, when it comes to standing up to family, I revert back to the 12 year old who “doesn’t know anything”, who isn’t allowed a voice and who is afraid of a scolding. When my dad asked us to review his profile and give feedback, to say I was uncomfortable did not even cross my mind. I didn’t even know it was an option! I was again that kid, trying to make sure I obeyed dad and kept in his good graces.

To be told that it was OK to say “that makes me uncomfortable”, it nearly brought me to tears. I do have a voice and it is OK to speak up, even with family. I was never given that permission before and it was mind opening to be told this. Standing up for yourself can be quite scary at first. I know once started, I would cringe because I was expecting a scolding. Strangely enough, the sky didn’t fall and boundaries were set. It’s healthy to set boundaries and voicing your discomfort is a necessary first step in the process. Also, along with this lesson, I am learning that how a person responds to my discomfort is not my problem to fix. If they don’t like that I am uncomfortable, it’s fine. They don’t have to like it but they must respect it.

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