See panel three there? That’s actually what my keyboard looks like. Don’t believe me? Vote to see!

Regarding the strip: I don’t like asking for help, unless I have creative control over a project. Kinda hard to have that with my mental health, so—it’s been a journey.

Two years ago, when I last visited my mom’s (who is remarried) for Christmas, I struggled to feel at home around my step-dad. I didn’t feel welcome in their home. I felt like I was in the way; a perturbance if you will. Considering I was invited (and family), I was upset. Everywhere I stood, everything I said or did, felt like it was met with some kind of negativity. When I brought these issues up to my mom, she insisted I was creating problems where there were none, or that she didn’t notice, and that I needed therapy so I could learn how to be around my step-dad without feeling that way.

That further upset me. She placed the onus on me when I wanted to feel that my emotions were valid—that how I interpreted peoples’ actions was legitimate. I am apt, smart, socially adept, and quite the conversationalist;  I know how to interact with people—I’m empathetic. But hearing my mom side with my step-dad was a blow I still haven’t quite recovered from. It took me a year of fierce independence to gather my thoughts, and during that time I distanced myself from that part of my family.

The distance I put between myself and her family has been relieving. I was happy I didn’t have to spend this Christmas with my step-dad. It’s an environment I still don’t feel comfortable in. It’s his home, and if I’m to be there, I play by his rules. Did I mention he is fiercely conservative, swears by Fox News, and loathes Obama? We’re not on the same wavelength.

When my mom drove by northern California this year, we had breakfast. My step-dad insisted on giving me a hug. He has yet to understand that a hug doesn’t mean anything unless I want to give him one, back. The last time he and I talked, he emailed me an inflammatory anti-millennial anti-liberal FWD message. When I told him I didn’t want to discuss it, he hounded me via text and insisted I didn’t want to repair relations with him.
When I told my mom to tell him to stop bothering me, he attacked me for “running to mommy.” The problem never really lied with him, so much as it lies with feeling discounted and invalid by my family.

“So,” you ask, “why seek therapy now? If it’s not your fault, why should you work to fix something?”

Well, I love my mom. I know she loves me back. And I also know she doesn’t understand how I feel. She loves her husband in spite of his flaws. I love that she loves him, because I want her to be happy and to be with someone who makes her happy. But I do not like my step-dad, I do not like walking on eggshells around him, and the two are kind of a package deal. So either I put more distance between them and myself, or, I learn how to communicate with them in a language that they’ll understand. So, I’m working on it.

Step by step.

Thanks for reading.

PS. This update was available a whole day early and you could see it… if you support me on Patreon!