I’m not the best when it comes to spending quality time with my family. There are very few family members I care about seeing on a regular basis and I feel fine with not knowing every single detail of what they do every day or where they went. It’s not that I’m not curious about their lives or habits. I am, but some days over others I’m just not in the headspace of feeling like I want to ask how someone’s day was or wanting to know about things in detail.
I avoid “family reunions” like the plague. I used to feel obligated to go to these reunions or get togethers and would go hoping to bridge some kind of family bond that extended beyond shared bloodlines, but I think that was just hopeful wishing on my part and it never worked out. As a child, the most interaction I’d get from relatives on my mother’s side is greeting them. I remember I felt too awkward to do anything else except smile and nod a lot.
Recently one of my mother’s cousins was in New York for a few days and she went to meet up with her and some other cousins for lunch. I was grateful to not be asked if I wanted to come along. I probably would have just sat at the table shoveling food in my mouth with no idea what people were discussing since I can barely understand any words in the Hokkien Chinese dialect that my mother and her family speak in. Of the past times, I’ve been asked if I do want to come along, but I always feel bad saying no because I’m basically choosing to not see these relatives and build relationships with them. Maybe it’s too late anyways to reconnect with people who I was never close to.
Since my brother officially moved out to live with his girlfriend Bree, he only comes home on Thursdays. This Thursday was the first time he’s been home since moving out. That day, he texted to say he’d be home and asked if we (my parents and me) wanted to go for a dim sum breakfast on Friday. I don’t know if I’m imagining things, but sometimes I feel like he tries too hard to push all of us (him, my parents and I) together for family time. Or maybe that negative perception only came to me because I felt agitated. I had plans to be somewhere on Friday at 1 pm and was feeling nervous about going and had hoped to leave home earlier in morning so I could mentally prepare without having to deal with anything else. I told my dad that I wouldn’t be going to have dim sum since I had to catch the train in the morning. Yes, I lied about what time I needed to be there and said it was an 11 AM appointment. I don’t really know for sure why, but my parents didn’t end up having breakfast with my brother the next day. If they had, this wouldn’t be the first time they’ve gone to dim sum without me since there was a previous time on another Friday when I was also busy in the morning and left the house earlier than them.
I overslept by an hour because my alarm didn’t go off, but this isn’t the reason why I ended up not following through with my 1 pm schedule. My plan had been to meet up with people at the botanic garden. Unfortunately, I did not anticipate it would rain that day so I decided not to go.
I mentioned to my parents in passing if they’d be interested in going with me. So the three of us are going tomorrow. Even an outing that is meant to be fun and stress-free is giving me anxiety. I dislike being in what feels like a leadership role, but it’s a given that I’ll have to speak up for my parents at the ticket booth since their English is not that great. I don’t know why I care so much. I admit it will make me feel uncomfortable to have my parents beside me as I talk to the ticket booth person. I think what scares me most is trying to pretend to be calm and not wanting my own parents to notice just how freaked out I feel on the inside.
What about you? What is your comfort level with your family? If you’ve ever been socially anxious around them, do you find yourself feeling this way around specific family members and/or because of certain triggers in the situation?