Today it dawned on me that I am actually going to visit with a large section of my family, and the anxiety began to rise. I grew up in the '50's, in middle-class suburbia, and the surface we showed the world was of Happy Family-you know, the Donna Reed Show, or Leave it to Beaver.
I had no clue that underneath was my father's struggle to be a good corporate lawyer when he had no real people skills. My mother, a stay at home mom, struggled with anxiety and depression, and a terrible case of What Will People Think?-if they knew she was a poor housekeeper, felt inadequate as a hostess for the necessary dinner parties, or had kids who didn't fit her perfectionist visions when seen from outside. She got it from her mother.
I know now-after lots of therapy- that they, like me, were products of their childhood experiences, doing the best they could under the circumstances. I, of course, mothered the way I was mothered-poorly- at least until I went into therapy at 29. I well remember my horror at realizing that I was so blatently repeating my mother's mistakes. I was, thank Goddess, able to make some changes so Meg did not have a complete repeat of my hang ups!
I well remember how much I hated being so like my mother, who I loved and hated at the same time. Luckily we all grow older and can see our lives with a little more perspective. I am still like my mother in some ways, and though she still drives me crazy at times, I am glad to recognize her good qualities in me, and can laugh (usually) when Rene or Meg tells me I'm JUST like her!
Today I love her dearly, and worry about her failing health, but she is a one person at a time kind of woman-she is doing her own anxiety about the gathering herself.
So is Meg. She feels the low man on the totem pole- after Luke and Mary and me and Rene and Catherine-and is nursing her anger well(another family trait) and taking it out on me by phone-she is already in the Poconos. As I look at family dynamics, I realize she is seeing me in her, and probably not liking it too much,
On the other hand she is readily in touch with that anger, something my mother is hard pressed to do, and I still struggle with. Yea for Meg!
Then we throw in the rest of us siblings-all caughr in family dynamic-and our spouses/partners and I forsee a roller coaster ride ahead of joy, struggle, laughter, frustration, good food, anger(probablly suppressed and leakin out the edges) AND alot of love
And despite the anxiety, I am looking forward to all of it!
Now I better go pack!
picture-pine trees for the Poconos from jcc.legis.state.pa.us/