functional family

Every other week I sit in a surprisingly uncomfortable chair in my therapist’s office.

Rarely do I feel like going.  If I am crabby and busy I think, “man, I don’t want to waste and hour sitting in that chair just talking,” and if I am having a great day I think, “I don’t want to go and have a big old Debbie Downer discussion.”

The weird thing is that I never walk away thinking, “see? Waste of time.”

A couple weeks ago we were talking about family.  My family and Cort’s family and how we communicate with our families.  I told Dr. Melissa,

“I never have to wonder if someone in my family is mad at me or if there is an issue or what.  If someone asks like an ass, the other people tell that person.  There is no silent treatment or passive aggressive jabs.”

Then I told her about something super disappointing my mom shared with me recently.  After my mom had told me, she asked me if I was mad at her and I said yes.

I festered about it for a few hours, then started to cry.

Eventually I called my mom and said, “I’m not mad at you guys, mom.  I’m just super disappointed.”  We talked about it for a bit and I told her I wasn’t going to dwell on it. I just needed to tell her that it bothered and disappointed me.

My mom agreed and we were Ok.

I told all of this to Dr. Melissa.

She looked at me for a minute and then said something I wasn’t expecting.

“You know, Katie, many many people would not be able to talk about that as openly as you did with your mom.  And they most certainly wouldn’t be able to stay disappointed, but let the anger go.”

I was sort of baffled.

“Really,” I responded,  “because in the entirety of life, it’s not that big of a deal.  It’s not worth losing my mom and dad over or anything.  It sucks.  It’s really sad and disappointing…and I’ll probably be disappointed about it for a LONG time…but it’s not worth having a feud over or anything.”

“That’s the thing,” she told me.  “This is exactly the kind of thing most families do have feuds and harboring resentments about.  It’s amazing that you have this kind of communication with your family.”

I have been thinking about that conversation for the past two weeks.

This past week, Eddie has been very sick.  Cort and I each took two days off from work to stay home with him, but both of us really needed to be at work on Friday.

Thursday night my mom, knowing about our struggles, called and said that my dad had Friday off and would be cool with hanging out with Eddie in the morning.  Then she would take the afternoon off from work, and stay with him.

It was a lifesaver.

She didn’t do it because she felt guilty for disappointing me weeks ago.  She did it because this is what our family does for each other.

I can’t imagine holding anything against my parents or my brothers.

I tried to think of a time before this that anyone did something that was truly disappointing or that angered me that I didn’t say something.  I couldn’t.

I couldn’t even think of something that I would have gotten mad about…other than crap we did/said to each other when we were kids.  And even then we just yelled at each other and got over it.

What’s funny is back when I was in high school, friends of mine and friends of my brother, Chris would come over for dinner and refer to our family dinners as “having dinner with the Yelling Match.”

Everyone in my family talks over everyone else.  There are only five of us (parents, me, my two younger brothers), but it gets loud.  Then the talking over turns to disagreeing about topics or calling each other names.  Things get louder and louder.  My parents try to intervene, but it never works.

By the end of the meal, everyone leaves full and happy.

Yelling Match Completed.

I know my parents used to worry about how much my brothers and I argued and name-called.  I think they still worry sometimes since we are all adults (34, 32, & 27) and maybe shouldn’t be calling each other “buttface” at the dinner table.

But we all have a close, happy relationship.  We love doing stuff together and spending time together.

We miss each other and give our mom grief when we haven’t had a Sunday dinner together in a while.

We enjoy each other’s company even when we disagree.

If someone falls short of someone else’s expectations they are told, but a real beef is never held onto for long.  Oh we don’t let the person forget about it, but we don’t seriously harbor ill-feelings toward each other.

We let it go.

Apparently this is not something all families do.

So I guess what I am trying to say is this:

Hey mom and dad, you done good.  All those times you worried about us being so mean…at least we were being mean and not holding it in.  Because had we held it in, we wouldn’t be able to be the communicators we are now.  And we wouldn’t want to come over and have you feed us.  And we wouldn’t want to spend a week all together in the summer at the cottage.

Yup, my family lets me down sometimes, but rather than shoving that down into my heart and muttering, “that’s ok.”  We say our feelings and we let it go.

I’m so thankful for this.

Also, mom? Really. I’m not mad.

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