Into the deep

I call my parents nearly everyday. Separately, of course. They’re divorced.

Most of my conversations with my dad end with him telling me I’m stressing him out. It’s because we inevitably end up talking about Life with a capital L.

Whether it’s about my brother or taxes or ruminating on the choices my dad made as a young adult, we always discuss heavy material.

Today Dad mentioned he read somewhere that most “kids” in my generation are still living at home with their parents.

In jest, I asked, “Aren’t you glad I’m not living with you?”

He said, “No, I’d rather you lived closer. But I know you like it up there. But I also know it’s hard to be on your own away from your family.”

Then he quickly ended the conversation with a laugh and, “You’re stressing me out again, Jaena. Bye!”

And that was that.

I’m 34 now and in the last few years I’ve come to terms with my parents as whole individuals separate from their parental functions. And I want them to see my authentic, whole self as well, which is why I call them everyday and engage them in conversation on a regular basis.

For most of my twenties, I felt like I regressed into a sullen, insecure teenager whenever I talked to them. I am definitely not that anymore. As I’ve grown in awareness and confidence—with the help of a shit ton of therapy—my goal is to occupy every space in my life as my authentic self, warts and all.

Easier said than done. Easier done with friends and colleagues than family. While I felt more genuine in my Bay Area life and with my friends, I knew that I was completely the opposite with most of my family.

So, I started with my dad. Baby steps. I began to share a little more with him and asked him to call me more often.

And now that I feel more comfortable with them, this feeling has spread to the rest of my family as well. I’m more outspoken. I joke more. I share more about what my actual life is like.

It’s been painstaking, uncomfortable work. But my god, so rewarding. I’ve never been closer to my parents and I know to cherish the time I have with them, especially while they’re healthy and vibrant.

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