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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Warm days and clean carpets and family roles...

So it has been lovely weather (aside for the persistent rain or drizzle every few hours).. The kids and I actually wore shorts yesterday for the first time.  Today was touch chillier, so even though G and I had shorts on early in the day I had him change into pants for the afternoon.  The kids were so cute this morning, J was sitting on the toy tractor and G was pushing him around the dandelion filled yard ( I LOVE dandelions, seriously, I think they are happy and beautiful).  So it was a gorgeous morning. 

Starting last night and finishing up this morning, I empties all the furniture out of the living room (except my blanket chest and some stuff I had in the corner behind it as no one has been in that area for months and I had no where to move it to).  I did all this so that the floor was ready for a steam cleaning.  Magic Carpet, owned by my mom & step father, did a beautiful job.  My step father is very good at making hopelessly messy carpets look 1000X better.  So, aside from a problem with miscommunication causing grief between my mother and I, it was a good day. 

For some reason I have miscommunication problems with family, most other people in my life seem to understand me, but if email is involved (and half the time even face to face conversation) there is bound to be miscommunication somewhere, and this one started our as a miscommunication face to face (talking about a particular thing which related to carpet cleaning, but somehow the two got tied together), over five different conversations (where I had hoped to unhook the two ideas), and I tried to do one final clear up via email to my step-father, and made it go from bad to worse--so there are days I feel like i am cursed when it comes to communication with my family.  Because how can something as simple as discussing a carpet to be cleaned lead to five confusing conversations and a final email that is meant to clear up the confusion, thus causing hurt, anger and more confusion.  But, well it is family, and I will keep trying to express myself more clearly. 

I am loquacious (in case you hadn't noticed by the volume of my writings), and so I do have a tendency to be confusing (as so many different things relate to each other in my mind, but not in other peoples minds, and I tend to talk about more than one idea at a time--which leads to the unplanned wedding of a couple of different things, which I have trouble undoing.  So I need to keep working on myself and trying to find a way to communicate with them more effectively.  Perhaps other have had issues with my communication but have just never reacted drastically to it.  Most people tell me I have good communication skills and convey my thoughts well.

I suppose when it comes to family, well, they are a whole different ball game.  In an article called "Branching Out: Going home for the holidays can mean getting stuck in old family patterns -- or growing into something new."  By Sally Kempton in the November 2010 issue of Yoga Journal (page 55-61), she states "If you think you are enlightened, go visit your family."  She talks about how when you go back to your family of origin, you are wrapped in all of the joys and sorrow, successes and failures, pride and disappointment, and all of the other experiences that you had gone through together.  Later Kempton said, "Memories, rivalries, and disappointments are only a piece of it. More basic is the forced encounter with parts of yourself that you thought you outgrew years ago, and the equally insidious confrontation with the ideas that family members have about who you are."

This idea has been set forth by many people.  That your family of origin can never really see or understand the person you have become, because their unconscious expectations of you (and yours of them) are rooted in many of the growth experiences from your growing up.  The buttons that you have were mostly installed by the family you grew up in, so they are more likely to push those old buttons or, if you have worked on deactivating some of those buttons, they may just expect you to react a certain way and react accordingly.  I have a not so unconscious expectation that my mother can not understand me, and can never fully know who I am.  Much of this comes from her telling me that she just can't understand me as I went through my teen years, and her often frustrated exasperation about how I am so much like my father.  Which was exasperating to her, as she never really did understand my father.  I find it to be a compliment mostly as I adore my father, and I know that he is one of only a handful of people who truly has a mind that works the way mine does (not that we think the same, as we differ on a lot of opinions about a wide range of topics,  but rather the way we process and use information, the pattern of our thought processes, is very similar).  I have come to understand that our particular pattern of thought processing is fairly unique, which is why i have taken to explaining things in detail when trying to convey information, as I find people used to have trouble following me.  In college I met my friend Lisa and we shared this unique way of processing, so I loved our conversations, no need to explain the weird jumps we made.  Others would be so lost, but we got each other, and it was such a rare and wonderful thing.  I miss her, as it has been a long time since I have talked to her, just because life grew us apart. I still keep in brief touch through email and her husband's facebook page (she is too busy to have one of her own), but I long for a nice long conversation over lunch.  My best friend from college, Kay, who is still my best friend now nearly 19 years later, has known me long enough and spent enough time with me, that she can usually follow my weird conversational jumps without me having to use a segway, which is pretty amazing too.

Anyway, away from that aside, I was saying, there is a large body of articles and papers out there regarding this phenomenon with adults dealing again with their fairly of origin and finding so many old road blocks and relationship discomforts coming to the forefront.  I believe it does have a lot to do with old memories, buried feelings, expectations based on a persons behaviour from years before, and the inability to mesh the newer identify o the person onto our preconceived notions of them.  Lord knows that when I can step back and try to look with new eyes, I learn a lot about myself and my family member that I just couldn't see before.  I think my communication difficulties with my family speak to both my perception of them (or more honestly my perception of their perception of me) and of their perception of me (or their perception of my perception of them).  It is all very confusing and exhausting in so many ways. 

I have many times in the past year, wondered about how wise it was to try to move back home after 17 years of living as an adult on my own (or with friends or near certain family members--basically living away from home). 17 years is a long time, and a person changes a lot in 17 years, not at their core, but how they express and experience, and share that core changes greatly in that time.  Now, only 2 years back home, and without a social life outside of family and far away friends (anyone that tells you raising two kids with special needs does not drastically alter their ability to have a life outside of the kids sure does not have my kids--it is extremely isolating, especially the medical issues when they are very young (J) and the behavioural issues of autism which do the opposite of improving with age (G)).  But as J gets older and G is trying as much as he is able, I am hoping that the tide on this will begin to switch soon.

Anyway, as I was saying before I interrupted myself, the past two years living at home (well in my own place, but it is such a small town, it is nearly the same as moving back home with the parents) I am finding that much of my sense of self and my self-confidence has been eroding back to that teen-age level, and as I have very few fond memories of my high school self and had less self-confidence than you can imagine (like many geeky, flabby teenagers), this is not a desirable direction to be moving in.

So my communication ability with my family seems to be reverting back to those old levels, where I always felt misunderstood and alone, and I think this is God's ways of opening my eyes to the regression that I am undergoing.  It was this weird, month long communication glitch with my mom, which I do not like as I really like the friendship my mom and I have and have been continuously building, that has made me look inward at what is going on with me.  I think it may be time for me to move on again.  To stand back on my own two feet without worrying about what other people think of the path that I take.  To get back to reclaiming myself and building an amazing person instead of reverting slowly back to that person that i did not like.  To move forward and build strong, respectful connections with my family based on the incredible (though never perfect) person I know I am not the teenager I used to be.

There is actually a lot more I would love to put down on paper (like the analogy of quicksand and living in this particular limbo, the harder you try to fight against it the faster it seems to pull you down, so needing to calm down and focus on finding a stick that I can reach to pull myself up with), but I am really tired and I have to get up early to try to put the furniture back in the living room before I wake the kids.  The floor takes 12-14 hours to dry, but the air is so damp it is taking longer than I had expected. 

So I am off to bed now.

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