The family drama that followed my last post only compounded in on itself. In fact, it was written before the worst of the two incidents which resulted in chaos, screaming, and childish outbursts. For the first time that I can ever recall, being the one who openly loves everyone feels like the ultimate burden.
On the first few days, I willingly stepped into the role of the mediator. I was ready to help clear the debris out of decades of long ignored lines of communication. I was fair, I was honest, and I stood for no bullshit on any side. It sucked, but it was a level of chaos I was well-equipped to navigate. In truth, every party was professing their desire for the same thing. They all wanted it to be honest and fair. I just had to help them talk to each other. Why couldn’t they all just get along, then?
I want to be truthful without airing my family’s bullshit out in public. God forbid anyone find this and end up throwing resentments and anger at ME in 20 years… But let’s just say that’s what happened. One person drank way too much alcohol and acted in a way a person might when confronted with life’s greatest grief and a shitload of booze. The rest of us were wounded and attempting to 1.) calm the afflicted, and 2.)
stand up for ourselves. It went…poorly.
Thursday morning I woke up with a sense of dread and despair. Unknowing of whether or not this would be the last time I ever got to see my dear family together. These delightful people I so love and often brag about, would these be the memories that turn the pages of my story into inevitable repeats of theirs? Anger and resentment… baggage stuffed within baggage and swept under rug?
The rest of the family arrived on Thursday. What a blessing for them, and for us! Looking back, I wish I had waited. Not tried to do “the right thing” and be there for my mother. Just stayed out of it and made my appearance to show respects and mourn. These well-timed arrivals were a Godsend. Where I wasn’t sure if my aunts and uncles would ever speak to each other again, they were a perfect buffer. They were uninvolved in the drama, and eager to spend quality time with each other. By 3 pm on Thursday we felt like a “normal” family again (weird as we are).
Friday was the funeral, a very rough day. Started off with 3 too many cups of coffee, jitters just on time! I read a beautiful letter that was written by my uncle to my Grandfather more than 20 years ago. It was ripe with symbolism about not wanting him to move [on] and how hard of a time he was having with the unavoidable life change. “Part of growing up.” He also spoke of his sisters, and how very badly he wanted everything to be okay again, as it once was, but how terrible he is with words and expressing himself. He wasn’t sure how to get through to them, but he promised to try harder. That was the end of the letter. I PROMISE TO TRY HARDER!
How much more pertinent does the symbolism get than that? With his permission I read the letter and added a few of my own remarks about how important it’s message was. I started out very shaky with some extended pauses, and am really astounded that I managed to pull it together. Answered prayer and divine intervention, that was. Thank you!
Friday was sad. It was supposed to be sad! The visits and laughing commenced right on schedule, following the service. It was nice.
Saturday, however, I awoke again with a to-the-bone feeling of impending dread. It was one of those days you just felt like you’d be better off never peeking your eyes from beneath the covers. After many hours of doing just that, my logic-brain kicked in and started reasoning as to why I “should” get out of bed. Last day to visit with family before going away… living in a different country and time is limited. Blah blah blah. So I did. Got ready and every breath from that moment forward was off. Shit hit the proverbial fan for the second time somewhere around 9 pm, I believe. Because I was elbow deep in the first shitstorm it wasn’t asked of me to be the one to take it on… it honestly felt that it was expected.
Retrospectively, I’d have liked to have just said “fuck off.” but of course, I didn’t. I assumed the role because no one else was stepping up and shit needed to be taken care of. It’s infuriating to look back on it.
The stress of all of this is many times compounded by the fact that I HAVE NO PHONE WITHOUT WIFI. At my grandparent’s house, this meant my phone didn’t work if I wasn’t in an adjacent room to the router. Elsewhere, it didn’t work at all.
This cannot be emphasized as inconvenient enough. Just imagine not knowing where you are going, but trying to find a very drunk runaway grown-up in an unknown area, in the dark, with no way to contact them or anyone else. Alone. While there are 10+ other capable grown-ups watching you have a meltdown while looking at you indifferently.
It was fucked!
I need to remember to address that stuff with the parties involved when I see them. I don’t want to be carrying this shit around for decades to come. My brother came through for me and helped with the driving meltdown. Lost runaway drunk was located. All wrongs were righted; business was taken care of.
I made it to my temporary “home” in Alabama on Sunday, after a travel day worth a blog entry in and of itself. Who doesn’t love 6 hour journeys turning into 20+?!
Here’s the thing though. None of it matters. It was a long hard week full of old family drama and people being cruel and unkind to each other. I tried to help until I reached my limit. I was not always pleasant. The emotional stress and grief took it’s toll on me. I was short and unkind and very bitchy towards the end. (Did I mention I my RAGING period and hormones arrived after a 51 day absence? AWESOME!)
I was honest about my feelings and I called people on their bullshit. I definitely got some cold shoulders during those last two days. WHO CARES?!
I came home with a new delicious appreciation for my husband and our brand-newly beginning little family. I learned things and reflected on the legacy we might hope to leave to our children. I began wondering about how people might speak of us, and who might be present in the end of our lives.
It renewed my strong conviction about taking care of post-death affairs while you’re still here, no matter the age. Make your desires regarding belongings and estate so perfectly clear there is no room for misinterpretation. Get rid of unnecessary junk! HOLY COW, I can’t emphasize that one enough. I think having to move myself to a different country in the last year really helped me in this regard, but I intend to try to live more simply forever. I have found a new delightful pleasure in throwing things away.
That same concept goes for holding onto emotional “things” too. The weight of carrying around anger and pain is too great. It’s so much easier to just love people for who they are, even if you don’t always like the things they say or do. Just ACCEPT THEM and MOVE ON. You don’t have to like someone to treat them with courtesy and respect.
I need to work on this stuff. If not in my own family, in the one I married into, which is already causing my heart to harden and turn cold. I am sure the repercussions of this (very long) week will last a lot longer than expected. I just hope the lessons end up being positive ones. I know that my family may be broken in a lot of ways. That is not a reflection of my love for them. The picture may not end up looking the way I hoped. It’s okay. These relationships are individual. What you see in one does not have to be a reflection of another.
I have to accept that just because I am a gooey ball of lovestuff, it’s okay if some people don’t like each other. It’s not my job to “fix it” or change their minds.
This whole “healer of wounds, savior of the lost” routine has got to end for me, at some point. It’s not my job to fix people that aren’t broken. They are just people! Complex and stubborn and perfectly lovable, just the way they are.
Thanks for reading. xo