You Can Only Run So Far

Growing up wasn't so bad. There are many families that have/had it much worse than we could ever imagine. I had parents that loved me and supported me, and enough good luck to get us through the worst of things.

Even in the "best" families, your role in that family unit is very telling of who you are as a person.

Every child has that moment where they realize their "role" within their family. It may be a happy memory, or it could be one they wish they could forget. Mine wasn't traumatizing, but still not happy. I will never forget the day one parent asked me to help clean up a mess both parents had made...and not tell the other parent I knew about it or that I had helped.

  Doing this one favor didn't seem like a big deal. I remember that is was hard because it was the first time I really saw my parents' faults. I knew they made mistakes, but I had never witnessed on this level before.Of course, it just wasn't one favor. I became the family fixer. I quickly learned the only way to survive was to1) just keep my mouth shut and 2) Keep busy. The only way to keep a secret is to not tell *ANYONE*. Which meant years of arguments and taking the blame for things that weren't really my fault. The other side was if I wasn't home, I could avoid dealing with things.

There were also milestones I looked forward to as steps towards my freedom. First: Getting my driver's license. I would  longer fear being late for work because mom stopped somewhere or stayed late at work. No more being stuck at the school waiting for a ride home. I could work more hours (and violate more child labor laws). I could leave the house at 7:00 a.m. and not return until 10 p.m. and it was a fabulous thing. Of course, nothing is perfect. There were rules, and some interesting expectations. Some were "unfair" only because I was an irrational teenager. Others were "unfair" because, well they really were. I mean why should I be late for work because you double booked your morning?

Then there was turning eighteen. Eighteen was a goal because I would finally be old enough to hang out with the friends I had made over the years through my dad. It also meant I could start dating one of them...who had his own place and again that meant less time spent at home.

College was next. It was time to pack up and get out. It was a small taste of freedom, but my roommates never wanted to move off campus (admittedly the honors dorms weren't bad, but still) so every summer I would come home. Sixty hour work weeks and staying out until 3 and being back to work by 6 was challenging, but I made it work.

Finally, I found a job and I moved 200 miles away. I wasn't free at first. I still helped out, but one day I came home from work and discovered my parents had now gotten *me* into money trouble. This was just the first of many notices...but at least I was prepared for the others. I was angry. Actually, I was livid. The bad thing was that there was nothing they could do to help me at the time. So now both of us were in a bad place. That is when I had to step back. No more favors. No more fixing their issues. I was done.

I took care of the money situation. The anger didn't stay long, and in time I forgave them for putting me in that situation. It hurt for a while though. I had to put what I wanted for my life on hold...and honestly I never have been able to get back on *that* track. My life has gone in a different direction.

In time, I was slowly getting pulled back in. When Mom forgot Dad's birth certificate for a cruise (and didn't realize until we were at the Detroit Airport). She had a meltdown, he went all passive aggressive and I was the one on the phone trying to fix the problem (FYI: he did get on the ship that day thanks to the "sad eyes" and a pushover at VIP check in).

Of course now, I'm back in and probably in over my head. 200 miles, 50-60 hour work weeks, time with friends, and anything else isn't keeping me from my responsibilities to my family. The one thing I made a point to move away from will always be part of my life. There are days where I regret not following my dreams, but then I realize it would just make our current situation harder. 200 miles is a hard enough gap to bridge most days. I can't imagine being on the other side of the country.

It isn't all bad. I think the way I care for my friends is a good thing. I like keeping people happy. I'm good at being the voice of reason. Of course the down side is I have a very hard time telling the people I care about "no." Even when I know it isn't going to make me happy, or not be what I want, I can't let that person down. This sometimes gets me in trouble, but I like to think it will even out at some point. I worry about people. This can be misunderstood at times, but it really is with pure intentions. Life is too short to be underhanded.

Lessons we learn from these roles will shape us for the rest of our lives.I still believe the only way to keep a secret is to STFU and keep it to yourself. I'd  rather be busy than bored. Actually, keeping busy keeps me happy. It is only when I run out of things to do that I have time to be truely  unhappy.


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