What Happened When I Stopped Confiding in My Mom

My mom is one of the most trustworthy, reliable people I know. She always has an open, judgement-free ear for me and, for that, I’m lucky and grateful. But in my early twenties I decided I needed to ease up my emotional reliance on our relationship.

This wasn’t a result of any specific event so much as it was a kind of gradual shift in our relationship. One that called for an effort on my part to build my own support system. Be like, an adult, yeah, but more than that: allow myself to be vulnerable and stuff, with the people I choose to be in my life. Because I need that as much as I need my own creative outlets. They go hand in hand.

I now I know myself better than I did in the murky horror show of my early twenties (just kidding it wasn’t that bad), but I’m still trying things. And I like trying things. I’m fully on board with embracing a messy path”and a messy life”even if it looks like straying, or getting distracted or “being addicted to fresh starts / new projects.” Like, forever.

But, generally speaking, patience is not high for creative experimenters. (Jason Gots says, “In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin could be a printer, fiction writer, inventor, scientist, and statesman and end up a hero of the age. Today he’d be an eccentric dilettante with branding problems.” Ugh.)

Those who want to do many different things, today, especially if they’re “millenials,” are mostly considered… a problem. I don’t think this is a problem. Luckily, (reeeeaally luckily), neither does my mom, who is totally a cheerleader for me no matter what I do. However, I need my own like-minded support system on this path in as much as I need my own structure and my own projects.

The term “chosen family” was introduced to me in an article in a 2013 issue of Shameless, More than Nuclear: Your Chosen Family by Aisha Wahid. (This was just in print as far as I know) but the piece made me see how key our chosen families are in shaping our sense of self. This is summed up by editor Sheila Sampath’s intro to this issue, the Love & Relationships issue, on their site:

“It’s my community¦ my friends, lovers and chosen family who have shaped my well-being and sense of self; and my collaborators and co-conspirators who have nourished and fostered my creativity. It’s hard to separate myself from these people (and, I wouldn’t want to!) because they are an essential and central part of the person I’ve become.

I fully agree. This really speak to the real function of the community we choose for ourselves. It’s about more than friendship. They feed and help foster our creativity and build up our overall well-being. When we trust them, they help us trust ourselves. The people I choose to surround myself with get it, to me, because we want the same things and know how to support each other in a way that never gets murky. It’s a kind of support that’s like, “you got this.”

My chosen fam has let me lessen up the pressure I put on myself in my day to day, because they’ve helped me build a person who just doesn’t need to. And of course, this effects my relationship with my mom. There’s less pressure all around. I’m more focused now, and I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who are astonishingly helpful and inspiring. That makes me happy. I know that when I’m happy, that makes my mom happy. That’s a win.

Tags: chosen family, family relationships, how to be happy, mother daughter relationships

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