Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How to meet your boyfriend's entire family tree and friend groups and live to tell the tale.

Alternatively titled: Anxiety

So, imagine this: Your second Christmas with your boyfriend of a little over a year. The first one spent together with your parents and a pan of lasagna. Now, it's 3 am and you're only part way to your destination after 12 hours of driving. You look over at this great guy you're dating and think "what the hell am I doing? I'm driving to Minnesnowta, away from everyone I've ever known to spend a week plus with people who I hope to heaven like me. And if they don't? Or if we fight? Well I'm stuck." Then you fall back to sleep and wake up and you're there. There's no going back.

Now, keep in mind I have every intention of going across country and falling in love all over again. I want to fall in love with this city he grew up in, his friends, his family, deeper in love with him himself! I have the absolute best of intentions. I also have my old friend Anxiety. All the "what ifs" are flooding my head. I keep telling myself it's going to be okay, but I don't really relax until Christmas Eve.

I wake up and I'm on the verge of tears. Myke leaves and starts preparing for the day. I'm stuck. I'm stuck on the floor of this borrowed bedroom and I can't stop crying. No one even knows what's happening. How can anyone save me if no one knows I'm stuck?

Within an hour I get it together, dress and am ready to face the day. I make it through gift wrapping and bread making and then it's time to meet his mom, his grandparents.

We walk through the door and my heart is pounding, my arms are full, and there's a smile on my face. I am excited to meet them, but there's that little voice in my head trying to mess it up for me.

We eat, we talk, we laugh and without even trying I'm being me. I'm comfortable and I feel at home. I feel included, wanted, and I forget I was anxious at all. We talk about my job, their jobs, our lives. His grandpa reads the passage Luke 2 and tears up as he talks about his love for Jesus Christ. His grandma talks about her love for Him and also for her family. She tears up and laughs, saying she's a "big baby". Myke pushes me gently as if to say "See? We all cry here." They both say how grateful they are to see "their boy" so happy and that I chose to spend this holiday with them.

We move to presents and I am happy to watch other people open. I like watching other peoples' faces more than I like them watching mine! Then his mom is bringing a box, it's large-ish and I know deep in my soul that it's a record player. I shake my head at her, willing her to take it back. I'm going to cry. She encourages me to open it and I peel a corner back. I see the picture - it is a record player. I try to set it down, hope I'm fading into the group. I'm not.

She prods "What is it?" I go all in, ripping the packaging and revealing the only other thing I wanted that Christmas - a record player. Tears fill my eyes and I'm trying to wave them away. Staring down at the box, very quickly "Thank you so much, I really love it." There's silence. They're all staring at me. They see my tears. "Someone else do something now, please." They laugh at my uncomfortableness just like I wanted.

"She's so cute," is all that's said and then they move on. There's more presents, more laughter, more food. I didn't let them know until the next day but I felt like Rudolph in that moment - over come with joy. I could've flown around the room at that moment. Even thinking about the memory brings them to my eyes. I felt surrounded by love, safe, just like with my own family.

From that moment on, that little voice telling me I was going to mess up took it's own vacation.

I called my parents Christmas morning and told that I cried and they didn't even make fun of me! My parents laughed because they know what an emotional mess I am all the time. Myke and I spent the rest of the day with his family. We played 500, ate chips and dip, frozen pizza, and the women talked while the men napped. These are all things I do with my family all the time. I couldn't have felt more at home if they rubbed red dirt on the bottom of all their shoes!

So, what's my advice you're asking?

First, have faith. If the amazing human that you've chosen to spend your life with wants you to meet their family, they really care about you. Their family must realize that and really want to like you too. If you don't like them or they don't like you, this could just be really horrible for everyone. You're not the only one that's nervous. I promise.

Part two, be yourself. Easier said than done I know, but I cried the first time I met Myke's mom and I can tell you - she likes me.  Literally, one of the worst things I could think of happened and it just made his family like me more. You're probably a pretty great person if this other person wants to introduce you to the most important people in their life. Have confidence in yourself AND your love's love.

Last, but not least, try not to waste time worrying about the "what ifs". I can't wait to go back to Minnesota sometime because I know I will feel so much lighter when I'm not trying to carry around all that baggage!

Until Next Time,
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