This isn’t because of the fact that I am a middle child, but rather this is just me being caught up in between.
Typically, in our normal life, kids grow up and stay with their parents until they turn independently ready to stand on their own. Like any other typical kids, I grew up with my parents as well but only until I was 12 years old. So from over 12 until I was 23 years old, I lived with another family I so called my second one. Family isn’t just about whose blood you carry, after all.
With them, I’ve spent my adolescent growing years, discovering what I really wanted to do with my life, showing some rebellious side of a teenager growing up, coming home late at night just because I spent time with my friends hoping I also appeared as cool as everyone else.
They were not my immediate family nor a family by blood but they were there to adjust and to understand me. They gave me all the chances I felt I was entitled to because its part of me growing up. And I know right, knowing I was not even related to them by blood, it was really kind of them to do such things for me. That’s why without hesitation, every trust, concerns, care, adjustments they showed and did for me was secretly appreciated in the deepest part of my heart. Not that I wasn’t aware about what they were doing, I just pretended that I didn’t have the slightest clue that they cared for me. I took advantage of that teenage-years-chance they were giving me but at at the back of my mind, I made a promise to myself and made it as like a conviction I must live by, if they would just let me live the teenage life a typical teenager has, I would be forever grateful to them and would always include them in my good fortunes in my future days to come.
Because they are naturally kind, I told myself they are a family (even if they’re the family I wish to have but I could never ever have by blood) to me regardless if they feel the same or otherwise. They are really the kind of family I would wish I had—peaceful, respectful, organized, well-rounded and clearly knows how to show love and affection to each other. They show love in a way that my family is struggling to do so.
You see, I only had few insecurities in life when I was a kid- not that I come from a broken family but my deepest insecurity was a family happily spending Sundays and holidays together, understanding and taking care of each other’s companies and sharing the richness this world offers.
My family isn’t broken. In fact, I am always grateful that I have both my father and mother even when they always fought and had physical war multiple times when we were young. I have been grateful about this aspect in my family, however for some reasons, I have this deep insecurity about family and I don’t know why.
Fast forward, I was over 23 years old when I decided to leave my so called second family to go and stay with my real one instead. I realized I haven’t really spent time with them (real one) and I was always behind about what’s going on with their lives–always behind making it harder for me to relate it and keep up with them more. Additionally, I felt guilty that they are my real family and I didn’t really like spending long time with them. Because of these feelings (and overthinking) and as culture dictates it, I’m supposed to financially support them, too. I especially have to send my younger siblings to school because I graduated college first and I’m already earning.
To be perfectly honest though, I am helping them also because I made a promise to myself to help them–like prioritize them financially when I am able and capable. My promise was only up until my family becomes financially independent, though, then I would go back to my second one. By this time, free from the (financial) burden my society dictates me and paying off my debt of gratitude to the second family (because I also feel indebted and I also made a promise to myself about this.) [Oh! And by the way, (back story) leaving my second family to go to my real one wasn’t really easy so I had to force-tell myself to decide in five seconds 5-4-3-2-1 ” Okay leave Mj and don’t worry. In life you really have to make decisions, make decisions no matter how painful”, this was what I told myself when I finally separated from them. I was being rude that time. I just simply packed my things and assume they knew what I was doing–leaving them–moving out. I could not say good bye because I felt like I should not leave. I felt like I was being an ungrateful person. I just don’t like goodbyes. They are the hardest for me. It’s hard for me to be in that emotional situation where I have to express my deepest emotions –when I say deep it means sad. I knew I would not be able to help myself if I did talk to them properly. I would have probably just stayed there instead of leaving (which I did not want to happen) so after that day I packed my things, I just stopped going home to them and then just went back one day and said I was leaving and would be living with my siblings. Kind and understanding they were, they did not say anything against it. Then, I left with that heavy-filled-with-guilt-a-bit-excited-but-I-did-not-want-to-I-was-not-sure-of-this feeling .
So, why did I want to leave them? I could still financially support my family, right? Even if I were still with them? Well, I realized it isn’t just about the money. It’s actually because I wanted to really fully understand myself better, as well.
When I am with my real family, I couldn’t help but wish for another one. But when my wish was somehow granted by having to live with those wonderful amazing human beings, I always felt like there was always something lacking. They never treat me or let me feel like I’m an outcast but I felt like I didn’t really belong. I felt respected and taken cared of however most of the time, I felt like I was not free to do whatever I wanted and I always envy them because no matter what, I’m really not technically a part of their family, especially if there were occasions, and their relatives were there. I felt like the relatives hate or just being indifferent towards me for being there in their lives or I was just self-loathing, pushing myself and hoping to have belonged there so much.
On the flip side though, feeling not so free to do anything I wanted really helped me a lot. I was able to widen my horizons in terms of understanding things and seeing the golden sides of each. I was always trying to do my best, conquering negative feelings and just trying to do the best to achieve my goals, do things on my own and prove that I am not just some additional baggage in the family. I tried hard so that I would be proud of myself. I could give honor to my real family and they, the second one, would be proud of having me in their life. And if I did that, I would be able to pay them both in the future. That’s why despite having those feelings of being a real outcast, I was motivated in life and I had aspirations every day, which I can not see and feel when I am with my real family.
What I’m constantly battling about with my biological family is to constantly look at the positive things almost in every minute of every day when all I see and hear are otherwise. It wasn’t that much of a struggle back with my second one because all I could see around me was 99% of the time positive things, actions and people. I just needed to shift my perspectives about why it was okay not to feel like I belong to them because I technically didn’t, knowing of course that I have one where I truly belong. But the irony is that, when I am with the one where I should and I really belong, I feel like I’m a stranger trying to understand almost everything. With the way they think and handle things differently. It’s as if any problem grows bigger and bigger and each of them had problems arising and growing every day, which the hardest and saddest thing for me is I couldn’t really help them because I couldn’t make them understand and see things the way I want them to see it. I have tried a lot of times, peacefully talk to each of my parents especially when they would always end up fighting, oh by the way, when they fight it’s always an embarrassing moment for me and I’m sure for my siblings, too because the neighbors and relatives always know about it simply because they can’t or don’t know how to handle it on their own, I guess. Later on, I learned how to suppressed that feeling of embarrassment towards them and learned to accept them the way they are and every time they fight, I tried not to let my emotions be involved and be on anyone’s side because I know because of their pride they end up embarrassing themselves and then later on they would just make up. So in moments like this, I would always try to talk to each of my family member and try to let them see things on different perspectives. But on the next day, nothing’s really different. And sometimes, I get tired of them, too. Even if I’m always trying hard not to. I don’t know but sometimes I need someone to talk to, in order to cultivate the optimistic climate I envisioned and longed. I also need to see positive inspiring things, sometimes. Then actually, I kind of long for that positive kind of perspectives coming from my parents.
When I am with my family whom I should belong to, I feel like I don’t belong there sometimes — like they somehow trigger these bad vibes I am avoiding —jeezz insert guilty face emoji (but I have that natural joy of seeing them happy and being with them despite of everything. It’s just that every day is a constant struggle with them).
When I am with my second family on the other hand, I do feel that I belong to them somehow, my perspective, life aspirations naturally match theirs. It’s just that technically, I know I have a biological family of my own and it’s just not right. I guess this is one of the perks (perks?) of being caught up in the middle. You don’t know where you should be and sometimes, I get tired, always adjusting myself all the time–like I don’t belong anywhere.