“You are not your dad. You’re Chelsea.”

How often do we find ourselves comparing ourselves to our parents? I feel it’s a daily occurance in my life. Conversations drift to how I don’t want to be like my parents. Don’t get my wrong – my dad was the best dad I could ever ask for. My mom – we’ve had our struggles but I’ve finally come to a point where I except our relationship for what it is. 

However, I still find myself referencing how I don’t want to be like them. 

For my dad, the common topics are:

  • I don’t want to have financial trouble like my dad.
  • I don’t want to have heart problems like my dad. 
  • I don’t want to die young like my dad. 
  • I don’t want to struggle with my weight for my entire life like my dad. 
  • I don’t want to ever question if my spouse loves me like my dad. 
  • I don’t want to miss out of my kids growing up like my dad. 
  • I don’t want to worry about my health like my dad. 

For my mom, the topics are more emotionally based:

  • I don’t want my kids to ever question if I love them. 
  • I don’t want to rely on someone for every aspect of my livelyhood. 
  • I don’t want to be desperate to be in a relationship. 
  • I don’t want my kids to ever feel like I’m discouraging them. 
  • I don’t want to not pull my own weight in my future marriage. 
  • I don’t want to ever treat anyone the way my mom treats me. 
  • I don’t want anyone to doubt me when I’m telling the truth. 

And then there’s the biggest “I don’t want” of them all:

  • I don’t want to get married or have kids because I refuse to ever take the chance of turning out like them. 

That last one is also the biggest lie on the face of the planet. I do want to get married and have kids – one day – when I’m ready, when God knows I’m ready. I’m no where near ready and sometimes I get tired of being asked so I revert to the aforementioned lie. Not that I promote lying – sometimes I just get tired of having the same conversations and claiming I don’t want to get married or have kids is easier than admitting I’m scared it might never happen. 

Then there’s the bigger issue – I spend so much time comparing myself to my parents and how I don’t want to turn out like them. I don’t want the health or financial problems of my dad. I don’t want the emotional distress of my mom. I have made so many life choices based around it turning out like them, that sometimes I question if I’m happy with my life or simply trying to avoid repeating the past. 

Eating healthy and going to the gym to avoid health problems is a good decision – any doctor will tell you that. Is keeping a second job because I’m scared I’ll fall into a financial hole like my dad a good decision? Am I scared of having a relationship with a guy – or heck, a good relationship with family – because I’m scared I’ll become completely dependent on other people?

Then there’s the biggest dilemma – I have spent so much of my life doing things simply because they are the opposite of what my parents did. I remember being a child and making a pack with my younger brothers to never treat our children how our mom treated us. And I’ve continued to make packs with them, and with myself, ever since. 

The question becomes – how much time and energy am I spending doing the opposite of what my parents did? Or doing something out of fear that I’ll become them? Am I letting fear run my life?

I like to think of myself as a strong independent woman with a mind of her own, so the thought that I could be letting fear run my life scares me. Perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of life decisions in “I don’t want tos” and start thinking of them in “I want tos” – instead of “I don’t want heart problems like my dad” it becomes “I want to have a healthy heart” or even “I will have a healthy heart.” Changing how I phrase the statement and setting my mind to that. Change it from a negative into a positive. 

No one wants to repeats the mistakes of the past. Sometimes it’s hard when we feel like the mistakes are all around and a part of everything we are. It’s hard when you had a rough childhood, not as tough as some, but still rough, and feel like people don’t understand you because of it. 

The important thing is to remember we are all individuals. We are in charge of the choices we make and the things we do. All it takes is wanting to make a change. 

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