My Relationship with Myself
On the first day back in Boston from Taipei, when the time was only mine again, I realized I hadn’t read anything for five weeks straight.
I was thrilled while I was in Taiwan. (If you haven’t, read my post on Family Love.) But more than one person cautioned me, “Life would be different if you were here permanently. People won’t treat you like a visitor.” Reading between the lines, I understood that people would be less available to meet up. Daily life would take over. For example, no one would see me every week, I suppose.
Not only were my family and friends going out of their way to spend time with me, but I was also living differently than on my own.
I was rarely alone. I woke up and went to bed with my aunts every day, who were observant, paid attention to what I did and said, and wanted the best for me.
When I had to take new passport pictures, aunt C told me, “Do you want to change? The shirt you are wearing doesn’t have a nice neckline. How about the one you wore yesterday? That shirt looks nice on you. It has a collar.” Oh, okay. I didn’t think much about my neckline. I thought I had on a nice plain pink shirt. After the picture was developed, I understood what she was noticing. Had I kept my top, the headshot would show only my neck and not any collar.
For five weeks, I didn’t have to make any food decisions, i.e., grocery shopping, cooking, or finding restaurants. My aunts cooked terrific dishes, and my friends made recommendations and reservations for us. I ate like a queen. So spoiled and pampered.
One of my best friends in Taipei also noticed how blotchy my face had become and how dry my hair was. I had noticed this earlier this summer but hadn’t taken any action to address it. She immediately pointed it out and told me to better care of myself. We went to buy mud masks that proved to be effective in whitening my face. Because of her curiosity, I searched for the whys; sitting in front of the window during the pandemic might have caused sun damage to my face; so might menopause; the strong heat during the winter might damage my hair, etc.
Suddenly, there was more than one person - me - to care about the exact details of my life.
I’ve been sitting with this thought since I came back to Boston. In some ways, I had fewer choices and didn’t think about what I wanted all the time. In other ways, things I didn’t think about were added to my life and made it better.
I’m sure I’ll move back to Taiwan in a few years unless a war breaks out and stops me. With having close family and friends and all that blessing, I’ll have to be good at keeping track of my actual needs and wants among everyone’s voices. I wasn’t good at this during my romantic relationships before. Looking back now, I know the close ties with a man buried me. I let myself disappear.
But I don’t have to think about my opinion all the time. Just when it matters to me.
My relationship with myself has to persist and stay a priority, in addition to having a romantic relationship, close friendships, or close family love. Being almost 50, I’ve learned a few things about myself and should be better at balancing the relationship with myself versus relationships with close ones. Yes, I want goodness from all these different relationships.
Something to keep thinking about.