This was Heather Havrilesky’s newsletter for Ask Polly this week, and there was so much that I recognized in it: the conflicting goals among family, the effort it takes, the shame and regret always under the surface. I had a hard time pulling my favorite quote so just go read it: Why It’s the Hardest to Show Up For the People You Love the Most.
And ironically, the more someone matters to you, the more difficult it can be to stay close to them. Your shame and guilt and regret are activated by how much you care. Your differences feel more painful and aggravating than they would otherwise. Your flaws feel more embarrassing. Your sadness feels more real, more palpable, more like a personal failure.
Merely recognizing all of these difficulties is enough. Most people feel guilty and confused instead. And many people distance themselves from the people they love the most, just to avoid these unpleasant emotions.
Don’t protect yourself from the most important people in your life. Show up in spite of everything. This could be the last time. Notice the heaviness in your bones. Notice the afternoon sun on the grass. Notice the heavy sighs, the darting eyes, the efforts to be understood. Notice the dark clouds in the south at dusk, the dirty plates, the nervous laughter. Let it all in.