There's nothing quite like getting together with some of my in-laws to spark my insecurities. I don't think that they quite know what to do with me. They are good dysfunctional people, and I come from a different world. We don't see eye to eye on just about anything, so topics of conversation tend to be quite limited.
Because it's strained to have conversations about anything other than the weather and gardening, I tend to walk away from these occasions wondering why I bother showing up. My negative self-talk pops it's ugly head up, informing me that this is just more proof that I don't belong anywhere, that I'm such a misfit, that nobody care about me, that I don't matter. The last several times I've vowed that this would be my last family get-together. My heart cannot take being ignored and dismissed one more time.
I wasn't going to go today. I had decided last night that I would make other plans my priority. I woke up this morning for my Story 101 meeting. Having that space where I was seen and heard mattered. I still walk away from every meeting second-guessing myself, but it's not stopping me from showing up and sharing. I'm learning to trust that my voice matters beyond just mattering to me. That maybe I have something to offer other than my brokenness.
As I was talking through whether to go to this thing with my in-laws or not, I realized that I could be the adult that I'm becoming. I could show up, make polite conversation, or at least listen. I could bring my camera and use that as a way to reframe the experience of being with a group of people that I don't get along with. I could find beauty even there.
It wasn't awful, it wasn't pleasant. But I handled it differently. I had been seen and valued already that morning. I scheduled to go to coffee with a friend afterwards so that I could be seen and heard again. Today I realized that I could make different choices with this too. I don't have to continue to hide at these functions or not show up at all. There are ways that my heart and my voice can be protected without it being toxic or negative.
Piece by piece I'm learning. I'm learning that when I invest in the places and relationships where I am valued, I am less devastated by the places where I'm not seen or heard. I'm learning that I have a choice other than not showing up. I'm learning how to be true to me, even in the most uncomfortable situations.