I have the dearest of family. Really I do. I never get tired of the ones who live close and I count down days to see the ones far away. I love them and enjoy their presence.
Still, there is something about gathering us all together in one room that can make some strange trigger sparks fly. It’s just that we’ve known each other so very long and so very closely, we could light a campfire from all the psychological friction.
Complicated parent-child relationship, rub, rub, spark. Messy divorce. clink, clink, ka-POW. Sibling assumptions, crackle, pop, ROAR. Thanks for humoring me with the sound effects. Can you tell I live with a three year old?
With family, it’s easy to assume we already know everything and we don’t have to listen. Also it’s easy to think that people never change and we can just slip into the same old roles we’ve always played that while comfortable, often lead to feeling misunderstood by the people we want to be closest to. Everybody deserves the space to grow and change and to be valued for who they really are.
So here are my notes to myself as I enter the holiday season. This is what I will TRY to do.
1) Listen when people are talking. To the words actually coming out of their mouth. With awareness and an open heart. Without calculating my response.
2) Notice when I’m telling myself a story: “oh she always does that,” etc. Special note to myself: any story that assigns a motive to someone else’s actions is definitely a story. A tall, tall tale.
3) Notice my triggers. When old bottled feelings crop up, they will probably tell me a story about myself or someone else (see #2). I will just notice that it’s happening.
4) Choose love. I want to open my heart and feel the love that I have for my family and that they have for me.
After all, the saddest thing is for everyone to be holding hands around a turkey, but secretly feeling alone in the parts of their life that matter the most.
To all of my family, I love you and can’t wait to eat lots of cookies and catch up.
To myself. Good luck.
Myself and Pearl last Thanksgiving: