Last week, I visited the Cottage, my family’s own little getaway on Elk Lake, Michigan. A week of rest, enough sleep, family, and overeating certainly makes it hard to come back to work, but it also provided me with a new outlook on my life, most notably that it isn’t all about me.
My younger sisters are people now (as opposed to just “the girls”), and they are all growing up and taking on their own powerful personalities. I realize I don’t know them well; that I haven’t been the best sister; that I should put more effort, more contact into their lives. I selfishly arrived thinking I would be the center of attention for the week – as I only visit a few times a year – but I can’t be that anymore. I’m 25, I pay my bills – what more can my mother want for me? But my poor sister was just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, AND spent my weeklong visit in a psych ward (needlessly) because it was the only way she could acquire ADHD meds, which she desperately needs… kinda makes one’s own problems fade a little, no?
I have also been feeling troubled, because my job has tripled in stress level since January and my boyfriend, bless his heart, is not the one that makes ends meet for us, as he can’t get enough hours as it is. While he searches for a teaching job he worked for years to earn, I’ve been stuck breadwinning, and the pressure has been heavy. But a visit with my stepmother made me see how I have lost a sense of his value as a person, how I have made this struggle only mine, and not his. He is under enormous pressure too, to get a job in a world where teaching availability is dwindling. I have forgotten how blessed I am to have him, forgotten all the 60 hour weeks he worked, 40 hours of which were unpaid. His unflappable contentment with life astounds me. Where have I lost the ability to be like that?
So, upon my return, I feel less like my life is about me and my troubles, and more like it should be about others. I am resolved to fit at least one sister back into my life, and to try to revitalize my attitude toward the man of my dreams. Sometimes we get so stressed out, we forget the things that matter most. I am blessed to have a place like the Cottage that can remind me of that every year.