Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?
I've been trying to open communication with my family this past year, especially when it comes to discussing more negative aspects of our interactions with each other. I've been thinking far more about aspects of my upbringing in terms of the patterns of reward and consequent I learned were to be expected, and the attitudes I internalized as universal. I've been at a low-point in my relationship with my father for a number of years now, and in a difficult spot attempting to manage my mother's happiness in the way she has always managed mine. It affects me in that it gives me an actual motivation to one day raise a human from youth, in that there is an opportunity to set different expectations for communication patterns, general emotional openness and intelligence, and honesty.
This past year marked my parent's 30th wedding anniversary. They are the perfect model of a loving and in-progress relationship, and my siblings faced a great challenge in commemorating this milestone. I imitated a friends' gift idea, and we created a book of testimony in their honor: reaching out to all of their many friends and colleagues; soliciting their warm wishes, stories, photos, and poems; and compiling them into an unforgettable book. Their reaction upon receiving it was of genuine surprise and immense gratitude (and thankfully videotaped). More importantly, as I embark on my own married adventure, they remain an inspiration.
My youngest daughter turned 18 and graduated from high school. She's had some significant struggles during the past few years and this has been a challenging transition into adulthood. I am trying to take some of the energy I have put into raising her over the last 18 years and channel it into my own health and self-care, and my marriage, work, and friends.
My brother got married and my sister got engaged. Everyone's settling down and getting old and mature and stuff. It's exciting and fun planning weddings and nice getting new family. But at the same time I'm a little sad about my sister not being as much mine anymore, and getting a little more separation. It also puts the pressure on me- am I next, and will everyone be burned out on weddings by the time mine comes around (if it does)? We shall see.
I started speaking back to my mother this year thanks to my love. My aunt was also diagnosed with dementia which has been very difficult to deal with. My family is somewhat in shambles especially since my aunt doesn’t want to accept her condition. I had to also postpone my master degree in order to take care of her.