Monday, August 25, 2008

Sorting through the Guilt

Having a close family is one of the greatest gifts anyone can ever receive. No one sticks by you like your family. No one is willing to help you out—whether you need your tire changed or advice on what career path to follow—like they are. They are your people in a way that most others can never be.

However, every rose has its sticker. And the pokey part of close families is that they like being just that: close. The idea of moving away is not a welcome one.

I had a dream—after writing my last blog—that my Grandma P. was alive and I left her birthday party to go do freelance work. Just like in reality, I put my life and my busy schedule ahead of my family. This is how I operate. They live near me, so I know I will see them eventually—and therefore, I don’t usually make time for them unless we have a date set on the calendar. My parents have taken to giving me the old “who’s this stranger?!” greeting when I show up at their house. And apparently, my subconscious is feeling very guilty about that.

So if these twinges of guilt can exist when one lives 5-45 minutes from the majority of her family, what sorts of ill feelings surface when she moves to another state or, God forbid, another country? I’m afraid the guilt might kill me.

And I’m afraid because there is a large part of me that wants to move away; experience new things; be somewhere unfamiliar after spending my first three decades in one place. This is exacerbated by a boyfriend who has Travel in his very core. He is not tethered to a family. They are spread out and he doesn’t grapple with guilt when he goes without seeing them for a year. He eats up the idea of living in an apartment in Paris or a villa in Tuscany. And there is a large part of me that wants to remove the screen around my fire and let him stoke it until it sprawls the hills and ends up in Europe.

But oh, the guilt.

I cannot even imagine how a move like that would be regarded. I would become known as the one who forever fractured the family unit.

So what do I do—try to develop sleeker feathers that allow the shame to slide right off? Force the man of my dreams to stay put (when I don’t even know whether I want to stay put) and then feel guilty for holding him back? Or is this some sort of deal breaking sign? That if he really were the perfect person for me, we’d be completely on the same page about all this stuff?

19 comments:

varietyisthespice said...

Ah, funny how our lives have such similar motifs. I have so much to comment!

First, he's perfect for YOU, but not perfect, so thus, not everything is perfect. If that makes sense. I know tons of married couples that are incredibly happy but have the same issue with one wanting to travel a lot and the other is eh.

I'm going to say this b/c I've done both things. I went away to college b/c my parents insisted; I came home this summer and supported them the last year b/c I felt guilty. No regrets, but I know a tiny part of me is leaving again b/c I need that space. Your family's used to you being around, so they're going to make jokes about strangers.

I'm not going to tout the whole "oh, you have to do what you have to do for you" crap b/c life doesn't really work that way, does it? Instead, I'll say, you have no kids right now. Travel before you wake up one day and have a gaggle of them and a mini-van and you regret missing out adventure. As broke as I am now, I gotta say, worth it all for what I got to do with traveling this summer. Phew, that was long.

varietyisthespice said...

P.S. Your family will ALWAYS be there. Remember that. You can always come home. Take it from the girl that's been away for 7 years.
-Jane

Mel Heth said...

Oh Jane - You're so right about traveling. I have no problem with that whatsoever. It's the actual "moving" part that I'm struggling with. See, Mr. Wonderful doesn't just want to travel to Italy, he actually wants to live there - possibly permanently.

Any advice for that one?

charlotteharris said...

Maybe you can meet each other half way. He wants to move away, you want to stay near family. If you compromise by promising to take many long, fabulous vacations together, then you both win and neither has to change completely for the other. One thing to think about... is he having this same conversation with himself?

jen tarara said...

Do it while you can - while mobile, independent and free. You will not regret it and it will be a huge step for you and your partner. You can plan trips back to see family - and even better- they can travel to see you. Travel provides new prospectives and makes us grow.

It's hard to plan for any permanent living situation as we evolve and encounter new opportunities. Maybe plan for a short term relocation -- like one year. And as Jane says, your family, friends and familiar neighborhood will be right there when it's time to come home.

Don't wait 2 more years to 'maybe' do this!

JustRun said...

I think about this all the time. I've thought about it for years, really. And what it comes down to for me is realizing that staying does not equal love, and neither does leaving. Nothing proved this to me more than when my sister moved away. I'd always heard love stretched across miles endlessly, but now I've seen the evidence.
So if the opportunity presents itself to me, I know that I can follow my heart and always have a place to come home to.

(Blah, blah. Sap, sap. I'll shut up now.)

Nilsa S. said...

Here's the real question: Can you ask your guilt to take a vacation for a couple years? That way, you and the BF can travel and/or live elsewhere for a while. And then, when it's time to settle down, you can always move back to be closer to your family. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, you might even be able to share that idea with your family so they let comments slide for a while. Because if you don't get up and go now, when will you?

laura said...

hmmmm...this is a tough one. It is great to travel and see new places, but to actually move a plane ride away from your friends and family is hard, and sometimes it's even harder to move back. Danny's brother and sister-in-law moved away before they had kids to advance in their careers...now they have have 2 little ones and really with they could move back....they really miss the family here and want their kids to be closer to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. But, it's now a matter of finding the right jobs here and a place to live, and everything else that goes along with relocating. It's not easy. Good luck with your decision.

By the way, if you do move to a Villa somewhere in Italy, you will actually see more of us than you do now. :)

varietyisthespice said...

I say do it. If you have the incredible opportunity to live in Europe and actually have someone willing to do it with you, I say absolutely go for it. It's not like you're moving to random nowhere, USA. It's Europe!

-Jane

Amy Turpin said...

From one who has lived away from home for 14 years, I can truly say, spread your wings and there will be wonderful things that will come from it. My mom and I fought a whole lot more when we lived close by. Now, we talk on the phone at least once a day and I am able to be so much more open and happy with our relationship now. My sister and I lived close to each other for a while and never hung out. Now that she lives all the way across the country we truly cherish the times we get to spend together and make time for them whenever possible. Your family will always be there, no matter where you are, and in this day and age of free calls over the internet, webcams, and frequent flyer miles, it is soooo easy to keep in touch. Your family may even thank you in the future for expanding their horizons.

Anita said...

Ask yourself honestly if living somewhere far from your family is something YOU truly want to do. If you take Mr. W out of the equation, are you still dreaming of the Tuscan Villas and Parisian Apartments? If so, then yes, you should experience it. Your family will always be there for you and should support your decision if this is what you want in your heart of hearts.

geekhiker said...

I know how you feel. I already live some distance from my family and, being their only child, I do feel guilty about not seeing them more often. And, of course, as they get older, questions and concerns about their age and health come into play, and I find myself wondering where I should live and taking that into consideration. After all, I have no sibling to fall back on.

And the real irony? They don't make me feel guilty at all. Sure, they tell me they miss me, but they don't make me feel guilty for living anywhere. Heck, when we've talked about me moving further away, they haven't had a problem with it at all.

Which, oddly, makes me feel more guilty for wanting to move further away from such cool parents!

Lara said...

Maybe my current situation makes me Nancy Negative, but, as someone who was away for 7 years, home for 5, then forced away, I miss home. My biological family is spread out, and with my new location, I do get to see my brother and 5 nephews more now than before. But the bottom line is I miss my Mom and my friends horribly. Maybe it's different now because I have kids. Who knows. However, despite how much I never considered living away as 'home', I'm glad I did it. Maybe that's why I'm so sure I now know where 'home' is to me.

brookem said...

i can relate to the guilt you talk about in regards to moving away. i have a very close knit family as well, and i have also wanted to move away, but it's the closeness, the guilt that holds me back.

but i dont think this is a dealbreaker, by any means, with you and mr. w. you guys seem so very happy together, and like someone else here said, maybe you two can come to some sort of compromise? move away for a couple years, but intend to come back. or dont move as far, but make sure to take trips to fabulous locations. im sure there has to be a way to meet somewhere in the middle on all of this.

i think it's great that you have this opportunity. you're young, no kiddies, im thinking now is as good a time as any to think of at the very least, relocating.... maybe in baby steps?

Michael C said...

I wish you luck with this. I'm not good at advice but do what YOU want to do, not what your family or anyone else would want you to. I feel the same tugs to my family, who mostly live relatively close to me, but eventually it has to come down to what I want out of life. Ya know??

The Coconut Diaries said...

Pish-tosh! Get your ass out of town, lady!! Your parents WANT you to get more out of your life than they did in theirs. If that means shuttling your little butt off to Tuscany, they'll happily do it. Plus, it gives them an excuse to travel.

I've always had 3,000 miles between me and my dad, and he's my best friend. I talk to him almost every day, see him at least twice a year, and vacation at least once a year. It will be work like any relationship, but you will be better in all of your relationships when you are doing exactly what you want to be doing.

End rant.

semichrmd said...

As cheesy as it sounds, you have to follow your heart and do what you want to do. Maybe it's easy for me to say this, but you can't live your life for them. I understand the need to be close to your family & not to have to hop on a plane to see them, but I agree w/a poster above - better to do it now before the little chicadees get here. Whatever you decide I have no doubt that your family would support you 100 percent, if this is truly what you want. And as for MR Wonderful, maybe now's the time to take that chance - you'll never know until you do it.

Wow, that was awkward said...

Chase your dreams. There is nothing better than making them reality. And it is no fun to always wonder "what if."

I have a small family and Colorado isn't Italy. But I packed up everything and moved from Chicago to Colorado when I was 28. I wanted to explore the west and go on adventures. I have never looked back. And now my family has an incredible place to visit!

Alysha said...

I say go for it! The wonderful thing about family is that while they will always be there, they also know you will always come back. And when you do go, you realize that phone calls and emails are possible, visits are an exciting possibility and again, that you will return. My family was pretty freaked out when I first moved to Germany, but by the end realized it was okay and they were happy that I was living.