Families are Complicated

CHGO sign 05-25-13Families are complicated. Mine, as well as my Boyfriend’s family are no different. I love my parents and my brother as individuals, though it can get complicated when you get us all together and add my parents’ dog to the mix.  When we are together too long (sometimes more than an hour), it doesn’t always end well. Poor Boyfriend has witnessed more than a few tense moments due to conversations about politics, sports or misunderstandings between my parents about who should have wrapped which gift. Visits or phone calls usually go better one-on-one with Mom or Dad or Brother because it is easier to tailor the interaction to the person but that doesn’t work for holidays. I try to hold on to as many good memories as I can, yet sometimes the less than pleasant memories hold on, too.

Boyfriend and I have not gone home since summer 2013, when we moved from the Chicago area to the Great State of Texas. I am feeling a little excited though mostly cautious, not only about the 20+ hour drive each way with our beloved cat, but also the complexities of visiting my family and extended family, staying with Boyfriend’s family, and attempting to connect with old friends. It will be an interesting week of social exchanges, though I’m sure the week will not be without challenges. A positive is that my Brother is bringing his girlfriend home for Christmas, and he is usually the diplomat who tries to get everyone to get along.

The key to a successful week of visits and co-existing, I think, will be to have a plan of what we want to do and with whom, keeping in mind that I may not see my family for a while and that nobody is going to change just because we left. In other words, I will have to pack the patience and have one expectation – that Boyfriend and I will spend time with our families, good or otherwise. I am hopeful, always hopeful, that both families will accept this as a chance to enjoy our company for Christmas, especially after a year of holidays that we missed. I hope we can laugh and talk and just be people: no power struggles, you did this, he did that, how come you haven’t called, and he’s your only brother, blah, blah, blah. I will try to stay in the now without writing a narrative of what should happen, and I will review my coping skills because I will certainly need them.

Deciding to take this trip was not easy for us, due to our past success rate at holidays and the real possibility of snow and ice in the forecast. I know that I can only control me and that I have no control over others, especially those who hide ugly statements in jokes, give you back-handed compliments and smile while saying that you don’t get her humor, even with the proverbial knife in your back. I also have no control over passive-aggressiveness doing battle with intermittent explosive disorder and selective Tourette’s syndrome. I have no control over the weather either.  Life, however, is short. People get older, time keeps going and regrets are a heavy burden to bear. At least our beloved Cat will on the journey with us to offer comfort and love along the way.

© blogdaysofchrell 2014

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