I don't really know what to do with this. But it was an interesting change in thinking. I'll not remember what I was told to think about but I'll substitute this instead.
So what I learned today is that not only is this entire situation very difficult to understand and to live with and it is hard because my family has all approached it differently, it is also that cultural reference point that causes some of the conflict among my family members and in myself. And my leaving the culture I grew up in (even though I've returned it's kind of not the same ever again when you make that leap) has led to the doubts about why am I reacting differently than my family, beyond personal differences.
I don't know why I hadn't realized this. I certainly was aware that there were cultural differences during the years I lived in Michigan. In fact I worked hard in those years to drop my native accent. It didn't really work, I just wound up hard for anyone to clearly understand because I wound up with 2 accents mushed together. My mom and sister both have the same speech characteristics that I and many professionals have in that Appalachian can be turned on and off at will. I have a friend who is able to do this so well that he can write in Appalachian. I am not nearly as aware of it as that. I don't usually notice that I've drifted one way or the other with speech unless I'm trying to be formal. It used to be that when I wanted to be formal that was when the soft Appalachia-speak was most likely to come out. I could keep verb tenses and pronouns correct but I would lose the "g" sound at the end of words with "ing" and various other soft parts of the accent emerged. By the end of grad school that was gone. I'm sure Dr. Mind hears it come and go a lot because I imagine when I am upset or when I talk about being a kid that the accent probably slips out more than usual.
I also hadn't thought about how I really stepped out of my family's culture as well. My mother and sister both have earned PhDs, so both have violated one cultural norm. But neither have ever lived outside of Appalachia. Well, my sister lived just barely outside it in a place as similar as it could have been for about a year. Otherwise they have never lived where things were different.
I knew that I had done this. I made a very deliberate decision to do so when I was 18; I left for college and planned to never go back home. And aside from short breaks I never did again. I can go to my hometown and I am treated as a complete outsider because I did this. And not only did I do that but I did the really unthinkable and I moved even farther away after college instead of coming back and re-integrating into my hometown. That's not very forgiveable where I grew up. I think people think I think I'm better than they are. I don't. But I talk differently (although I can lapse back into Appalachia-speak if I hear it; I was in and out all the time with patients when I did home health), I have a professional degree and had a pretty lucrative career as a single woman and I've never had a baby, much less had a baby when I was a teenager like most of the women I grew up with. I don't think single women who live independently are viewed very well in my culture. And so I am experiencing this in 2 different worlds. I really did not understand that until today. Mostly when we've discussed this in the past it has been about things I experienced while living in Appalachia growing up and so the Appalachian way was in my thought patterns. For this I developed my thoughts after I left and they are decidedly different.
I do have something very much stuck in my head though. As we talked today about my brother and how I'm struggling with reconciling the person I know, a person who certainly irritated me at times and who wasn't my best friend ever but who I thought I at least sort of knew, with the person who is going to prison and how hard it is for me that he will be there for a substantial part of his life so that everything will change and it may never change back again (if he gets a long sentence in the scope of the very difficult to comprehend sentencing guidelines my mom may very well not be here when he is released and he may not even live long enough to serve a long sentence out) we talked a bit about how some of the conflict between my mother and I is that I can picture what happened and I have a different sense of its' wrongness than my mother does. And as we've discussed many times before in the context of different parts of my life he pointed out that in Appalachia some things are more culturally accepted than in the rest of the country. And for the first time I think it really clicked that I am in Appalachia but no longer really of it. I said without even thinking "I walked away from that culture". And for the next 10 minutes I cried and laughed at the same time while we talked about that.
I'm puzzled by a lot this evening actually. Why I am having migraines all of a sudden is a good one and why they keep happening when my triptan is not a good idea is another. (I have to get up in the morning for a dental appointment and if I take the triptan it will make me sleep a few hours and then I'll be awake for hours in the night and that's no good if I have to wake up. So, lesser meds it is).I also can't remember what I told Dr. Mind I'd think about. I remember the question I want to ask him next time because it hadn't occurred to me until today that he would have to have some kind of an answer to this question (it's about the mess with my brother and since I'm not blogging the details of that right now I can't be more specific, so sorry for being mysterious instead).