I'm in Seoul, visiting my family. After some years in the US together, my family eventually moved back to Seoul when I was in college. I used to visit every year until about 3 years ago, which coincided with the timing of my so-called evolution into a happier, healthier person.
Without getting into much detail, and I write all this out of tremendous respect for my family, I don't meant to insult them in any way, but writing about this is important to me because I think I am here, after years of absence, because it is time for me to close the loop and move forward.
Old habits live at home. Bad eating habits, an environment discouraging towards exercise and active lifestyles, and excuses prevail on how to NOT improve what's not right. My family, in general, is comfortable with where they are. Their views are completely different than mine, which is why I had to keep my distance for years and years and years...
They are aware of my athletic pursuits. However, they are not fully aware of my fibromyalgia condition and how it relates to my athletic and lifestyle choices. I am usually made fun of and looked at with odd wonder as to why I am who I am. Even the kids in the family (my brothers' children) ask: "If it is so hard, why are you doing it all the time?" My compassionate suggestions as to how to manage back pain and leg pain via exercise (pretty much every adult in the family complains about some kind of pain all the time), how to eat right, why exercise is important, etc etc etc...usually get dismissed with every excuse and vehement denial in the book. The absence of individuality and enforcement of strong group mentality encourages "safe" decisions and actions, not necessarily the best for each individual, but usually the most mediocre for the group.
I see this, and I feel this - and it really leads me back to so many of the old habits I had and i lived with that unfortunately contributed somewhat to my current condition. It is almost hard to forgive myself for having accepted them in my life before, which resulted in some serious low times of my life. And that is probably why it has been so hard for me to come home for a few years. I was still trying to let go and forgive my past for the poor choices and decisions I made. I still wasn't sure what I was to expect during this trip.
This morning I woke up way early thanks to jet lag. The minute I opened my eyes, however, a thought hit me. "I am who I am, they are who they are." Suddenly, i realized that my life now and my life in the future, could never be threatened by my past just because my past happens to still be my family's present. And if they are "happy" with theirs, who am I to tell them they need to change, when they don't see the need? I don't agree with their beliefs and excuses, but the blessing in disguise is that somehow and in some way at certain points in my life I've made the choices to get out of the old and find whatever was new that could pull me out of my state of doubt and limitations.
I may never find that special connection with my family that I always believed existed and should exist in every family. However, I have ultra special connections in my life all over the world that I have never expected before. Seeing my past, until now, was seeing shame. However, now, seeing my past has become seeing the amazing present and exciting future I fought so hard to create with one blind vision of what it is supposed to be, for me. For that reason, I can now forgive my past a little more.
I am running on the treadmill in my parent's house (it is only used when i'm in town, which means for the past 3 years it was just sitting around collecting dust), and everyone looks at me funny. Well, keep looking at me funny, because I'm going to keep doing what I believe is right. I will do my first marathon in March that you think is so meaningless, I will keep finding changes and challenges in my life that you think are risky, and I will keep working on the awesome and beautifully amalgamated future of work/love/charity that you don't believe exists.
Who I am doesn't make me better than anyone else. I don't think at all my family is any less than me - they are different. We were the same before, but a split happened over time - as much as i had hoped that they would not judge me for who i have become, I have to do the same by not judging or criticizing them for what they are not doing. When I feel upset about it, it is only because I care about their health and their future and that I want so badly for them to see the changes in their lives that became apparent to me when I took my first steps. But I cannot control their choices, I can only control mine.
I have faced my past, and that is what it will be remain as for the rest of my life, The Past. As a financial professional, I know that a value of a company is the sum of its FUTURE cash flows. If i apply the same principle, really, the value of my life is the sum of my FUTURE decisions and choices... the past has NOTHING to do with it. So why not just look forward as I fully let go and forgive my past, and be ok with seeing some if it when I see my family very infrequently. If i am strong enough, I definitely should be able to. So I will, because I am now stronger than ever.