So, after I last visited my family (How telling my parents about my 6mo boyfriend went (they hate him for religious reasons) ), some time had passed and I figured that I had to visit them again for my family's sake.
Visiting my family felt familiar, comfortable and relaxing for the most part. When I arrived, I had a lot of energy because the invisible mental load of having to care for yourself (shopping for groceries, eating enough, getting movement in etc.) was lifted off my shoulders.
I enjoyed having my dad cook for me, talking to my family about my life (like 2% of it) and sharing my joy with them. Still, I was really scared of the questions they may ask, given that they were convinced I was pregnant last time and I personally felt like I had gained a bit of weight. Things went smoothly though because I made sure to flood their home with positivity.
I cleaned the entire house from top to bottom, did maintenance work on the dish washer, washing machine, dryer and other appliances and cooked a meal every day I was there. I figured that since it was my break and I was living there for free, I might as well do my part - but the whole cleaning and cooking made my mom very suspicious. A year ago, I wasn't like this at all, but I was seriously craving a structured and clean environment and since my parents both work full-time, they can only clean on the weekends.
My mom interrogated my family members about my possible motives (because I was cleaning everything), but she eventually got over it. She asked me whether I was still with "that guy" (she probably doesn't remember his name, I only mentioned it twice), I said that things are going very well and I don't even think she believed me. It was pretty weird overall to talk to her about something I know she condemns 100%.
They realise I've changed - just not the extent of it
I didn't pick a fight with anyone while I was there. My mom got very angry with me at one point because I had accidentally broken a piece of decor, but she was in a bad mood all week already so it just added to her bad mood. I used to fight with my brother every day, but my relationship with him has improved a lot, we can talk like adults with one another and he knows I understand the situation he's still in because I'm the first to have left it. However, he's expressed a lot of concern to me because of my relationship. He no longer approves of it, so that sucks, but I'm used to it by now because with their religious background, no family member of mine could ever support my relationship.
My mom was very curious about the content of my conversations with my best friend and my therapist, but all I told her was that both of them were proud of me and that they acknowledged that I've changed a lot (in a good way). My mom looked at me very strangely when I said that, almost like she didn't agree with them.
My parents asked me how things were going with church and I told them that I was no longer attending church because it's no longer interesting or fun to me. While they were quite accepting of that, my extended family wasn't. For the whole time that I spent with my family and my extended family, I attended church with them and suffered in silence because to me, it's just propaganda.
My extended family made it a point to tell me that they didn't appreciate the direction I was going in. According to them, I'm doomed to fall into Satan's arms, and while I know where they're coming from, it's still painful to think that my family would say stuff like that.
My conversation with my therapist
I was pretty nervous when I went there for the first time in a long time, but seeing her was such a positive experience. I gave her the whole update - on my new life, my family, my relationship, how our two holidays went - and she was the first person that told me how remarkable my development in the last year has been.
She's known me for more than 10 years and she said that I've changed the most in this last year (I already highlighted this here: What nobody understands about my current lifestyle ), probably because I moved away and got into a relationship with someone who challenges me to be spontaneous, caring and innovative.
It felt good to hear that I'm doing well, given the hostile circumstances. I expressed my pain over not being able to share my life with my parents with her (Hiding your "real" personality from your family and Why it hurts to lie to my parents all the time ), but she agreed with me that it's best for me to hide details about my relationship for now because it's not safe.
I'm proud of my development. For the whole time I was with my family, I felt a joy and appreciation for my current life much deeper than I've ever felt.
I'm glad I visited them.