I got to thinking while I was in the shower (where the best ideas form) about split personalities. I don’t mean the mental disorder some people are unfortunate enough to develop, I am talking about our very own Jekyll and Hyde complexes. How we, was humans, act one way in front of a group of certain people and then we act differently with another group.
Now I realize this not the case for everyone. Some people are “themselves” no matter who they are with (so they claim). I know for myself personally I am not the same person around my friends as I am around my family. I also see a difference in myself when I am with my mom’s side of the family verses when I am with dad’s side.
I also find it interesting how some people bring out certain aspects of one’s personality. For example. My ex brought out my “wild side” more than the Coyote, the current guy I am seeing. My recent ex encouraged me to defy my family and piss people off. I think he found it entertaining (even if he won’t admit it). Coyote balances me, we have our wild moments, but he also has this off calming effect. When I am with Coyote, we swear and tease each other, but in public, we are well mannered 20-something-year-olds.
I was once explaining this to an ex. I thought I was a bad person for acting one way when I was with him and my friends and another way when I was with family. This particular ex was considerably older. He advice?
“It’s not a bad thing. Everyone does that. It’s called showing respect for your family.”
So if we are showing respect for our family when we act well mannered, are we disrespecting our friends when we act like fools in public and teasingly call them mean names?
I don’t think that’s it at all. As a matter of fact, I feel I would be disrespecting them if I treated them like my family. It would be as if I were saying “I like you, but I do not trust you enough for you to see how silly I can be”. Instead of “friends zone” they would be stuck in the “family zone”.
I treat my mom’s family as if they are fragile china on display in one of the those fancy glass cabinets. From the outside they look pretty, but they are never to be touched, or used, or taken out of the cabinet for fear of breaking the priceless artifacts. That’s not to say we don’t hug or touch in any way. But one wrong move, one wrong spoken word, and the beautiful cabinet comes crashing down. What you have left is the disarray of broken cabinet glass and china that you spend months trying to clean up, all while trying not to cut yourself on glass shards.
With my dad’s side of the family, I treat them like a long loved stuffed bear that I keep on a high shelf. Every now and then I take the stuffed bear down, hug it, squeeze it, tell it how much I love it and miss it, then gently place it back on the shelf. It stays on the shelf because the shelf it out of the way, I have a life away from the shelf. But also I never want to forget about my fluffy stuffed bear. As is life, I do forget about the stuffed bear waiting patiently on the shelf. When I remember I take it back down, give it love, then return it to it’s place so that it can watch me live my life at a distance.
Both the china and bear are important parts of who I am and I do not want to discard either one of them. One day I will have to choose between being a free spirit and taking my stuffed bear with me on a road trip, or settling down and keeping the bear on the shelf. I will never leave one side of the family behind, but one day I will have to choose which side of my personality will become more dominant. Will I travel the states and even the world when I graduate college? Or will I stay close to home, find a husband, and settle down in a small town?
Will I choose Jekyll or Hyde?