We journeyed to a holiday house party and returned unscathed.
Okay, a bit verbose, archaic, and not entirely true. I’m sick. In bed, muscles weak, gasping for breath when I move, ill. So, unscathed does not apply to me.
The rest of the household, they are good. Energetic, happily going about their business making messes, good.
So I am laying down, unable to sleep any longer yet unable to get up, pondering my existence. Okay, also not really. I came to terms with my existence long ago. But having returned from holiday with family, and having sick brain on top of it, leaves me pondering something.
The visit went well, all things considered. My father had his usually skirmishes of opinion, with every member of the group including Vivian. After dinner all individuals went our separate ways to different corners of the house, unwilling to give up our solitude developed over years of living alone or with few people around.
And by Monday, it was over.
Stepmom back to work, sister on her long drive home, dad helping his mother-in-law with her businesses (despite his retiring years ago), and me packing us to go home. Questioning the wisdom of flying as late as we were.
Despite all our differences and disagreements, I love my family. My mom and dad have supported me through crazy life situations, and at the end of the day they are people I can rely on regardless what is happening.
But that does not minimize the discomfort of changing routines and being in 24/7 energy contact.
I finished packing everything and decided to take a nap, as we had about an hour before leaving for the airport. I was already exhausted, sleep not being a friend of mine even on vacation. I laid down, drifted off, was dreaming…
And woke up with a start as I heard my father hollering and cussing in anger. I paused, on the edge of the bed, with my brain suspended in a sleep fog. What the…? I strained to hear the reply, wondering if I needed to jump downstairs and throw myself between some people.
Then some words drifted into my consciousness.
Football. They were discussing American football. Cleveland Browns, to be exact. And with that I fell back to the bed, lying with my arm across my eyes, flinching as I listened to the tone in my father’s voice.
I’ve heard people say time softens. Whether it’s easing of emotional pain, or distancing from a traumatic event, people like to assume passing time will lessen it. Which for some things may be accurate, like a cut or a bruise.
For other things we adapt. We change our reference towards the event or situation and fold it into ourselves, with varying degrees of success and side effects.
But unless intentionally focused on mitigation, personality traits strengthen with the passing of time. Our normal tendencies become exaggerated as we age, often supported or at least ignored by loved ones accepting this is who we are.
Granted, I have changed. Been forced to change.
But I wonder if my changing wasn’t in fact merely the stripping of some traumas and distortions, allowing me to be closer to the child me. Then again maybe not. As with all things personal, I question my ability to see myself clearly.
My father has strengthened in his opinionated loudness. Namely, my father does not appreciate the nuance of debate. And if you disagree, you are wrong. While this in itself is not unique, my father backs his opinions with loudness and profanity.
Same point, just louder.
Of course, he’s not the only one in the family with this tendency. Both sisters and I are opinionated, and we don’t like to back down if we feel we are in the right. Though we have a stronger appreciation regarding debates and differing opinions.
All in all, barring the football skirmish of which I had no part or interest, most items involving ideological differences were avoided. Meaning we did not talk politics, religion, economics, and in the case of my sister and dad, a discussion regarding public education and disparity of socio-economic status was walked away from.
Instead all attention was focused on the toddler. Cute, attention grabbing, opinion diffusing toddler.
Who has an amazing ability to walk away. My daughter walked away to sulk in her room no less than 3 times.
Although child psychologists, and critical parents et al, may find issue with a 3 year old walking away when upset, I was ecstatic to see the behavior. Primarily, it means no tantrums. No kicking, screaming, mucus filled tantrums.
But long term, my daughter already knows how to regulate her emotions far better than most the adults at the gathering. Followed up with a verbalization of exactly why she was upset.
While there are plenty areas where my mood instabilities and sensitivities to stimulus will inevitably cause her issues, I can say there is one area of strength.
My daughter will understand her emotions.