Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The weekend recap- full of angst, feel free to ignore

Here's the long, emotionally unstable recap of this weekend.  We headed up to Canada on Friday night, Ethan did sleep some in the car, which was nice. And he was even in a pretty good mood when we got to Daniel's parents' condo.  We were exhausted though, so went to bed pretty quickly.  

Saturday was a busy day, but not as busy as originally planned, thanks to the monsoon-like weather that rained out a picnic we were supposed to attend. THANK GOODNESS.  We did the usual lunch out with Daniel's parent's. Not too exciting, because his family doesn't actually talk to each other, for some reason. I take that back, his mom talks constantly, but the rest of them ignore her, and she's speaking Chinese, so I have no clue what's going on. I've probably only heard his dad speak a handful of words in the 4 years I've known him, most of which have been spoken to Ethan. So the afternoon was fine. 

Then came the engagement dinner. Which I knew was going to be tough. I do not like being bored or feeling out of place. I know, who does. But the truth is, I do feel bored and isolated and so out of place when I'm out with Daniel's family. You might as well put a flashing neon sign over my head that says "does not belong here".  And we do a dinner like this every single trip, because his family is social (with other people, not each other), so we are always going out with big groups of their friends. Here's the mental picture for you- a table of 16 people in the middle
 of a Chinese restaurant. 14 of the people at the table are Chinese-speaking Chinese people.  1 person is Ethan, who seems to already understand Chinese, and the other person is me. Oh, and no female at the table weighs more than 120 pounds. I'm not exaggerating.  Much conversation going on.  Much food brought out. None of which I actually eat because, even though it's relatively tame Chinese food, I don't eat pork or seafood.  I do eat chicken. But this is what the chicken looked like.
Do you see the problem here?  I always forget that in Chinese restaurants, the chicken is not fresh unless the head is on it.  If you order half a chicken, they split the head down the middle. Yummy.  I kept turning the food wheel thingy so that I wasn't making eye contact with it, but it inevitably came back. I did eat some chicken in the end.  

Thankfully Ethan had had quite enough of sitting in a high chair after an hour, so he and I left, as discussed earlier.

I went back to the condo and ate leftovers from lunch and watched TV and was happy. Although totally drained, because being in a situation like that is just hard on me emotionally. 

The real emotional upheaval actually came when we got home Sunday night.  I was totally fried because we'd spent a weekend in crowds and noise, between the engagement dinner and the mega church we attended and the fact that the places that we go always have TVs on and radios on and conversations going on and it's all just too much! Oh, and we stopped at the outlet mall on the way home, and, if you know any Asian people at all, you will know an outlet mall is NOT the place to go to get a break from Asian people.

(Again- I am not saying I don't like Asian people, many of my dearest friends are Asian, as is my husband (of course) and baby.  But it is a different culture and I do not get it most of the time.)

Anyway, Sunday night, we're home, and Daniel checks his email. And there's a message from future sister-in-law, and she sent pictures from the night before. I opened them and felt like I'd been hit by a truck. I was HUGE in the photos. I looked like the Michelin Man, especially standing next to all the thin people. I know I need to lose weight, but I had no idea that I looked like that.  I just did not fit with the rest of the group in the photos. THEN, I scrolled down and saw a picture of Daniel and his mom and future sister-in-law with the birthday cake (it was a birthday/engagement dinner), and that was cute. And THEN the next photo was Daniel's parents, Daniel and his brother and future sister-in-law. And they fit.  They actually looked like a normal Chinese family.  

I know I'm being completely and utterly insane. I blame hormones.  It's just that I want to fit in at least a little bit. This is my family now.  But sometimes I think we might as well be from different planets.  Daniel tries to help, but it's all normal to him, because he grew up in that culture and speaks the language fluently and understands the customs and little nuances.  I want to like them and enjoy my time with them, but it seems to be getting worse rather than better.  I've lived overseas in Ukraine, where I didn't speak the language, and that was challenging, but different somehow, as I'm discovering. I think it's because I'm more emotionally invested in this family than I was with my friends there. Or something.

We're not going to be seeing them again until Christmas, as they're off on world travels. His brother is off to Asia and his parents are off to Europe.  Maybe I can develop a better attitude by then. I hope. 


BJ said...

I'm so sorry. I'm sure this is really hard for you. I understand about the picture thing - I've just recently seen pics of me from the wedding I attended in Aug...oh my. I could cry. I was unable to put weight on for most of my life til I got married. It's hard. Esp. when you're surrounded by little people. I'd be at the condo eating and watching tv, if it were me. I thought Korean meals were weird - a chicken complete with a head??? Yuck! (((hugs))) Don't know what else to say. I will pray.

Lindsay said...

Hmm, I feel for you Carrie. I wonder what the solution is. I have come to learn that I am way past the point of being able to share hotel rooms and condos with family (my own, not in laws) when we travel. Could you and Daniel rent hotel rooms when you travel to see his family so it is just douses of awkwardness? Could you ask Daniel if you could just see his family in small groups? Given the language barrier I don't think that is unmerited. And why should you suffer just b/c his family doesn't talk to each other much?
On another note I was in the monsoon in Vancouver on Saturday and CLIMBING a mountain WITH FAMILY omg. Not surprisingly it lead to me exploding on my bro and getting yrs worth of unhealthy pent up crziness off my chest. It was progress I tell you. It is not my job to be the accomodating people pleaser all the time, and it isn't yours either. Your weekends and Christmases are yours too! Best of luck in navigating this sticky situation.

Karen said...

No answers here, just a lot of understanding. Even without the obvious race and cultural differences, I understand. I felt like an outsider in my Hubs' family for years. No easy answers, but lots of prayers.