I am a confused person today. Yesterday was a family occasion, my father’s birthday, so I went to my parents’ house for dinner. It was actually somewhat enjoyable on one level. I stayed in the kitchen, drank a glass of wine and bantered with my siblings. No one put me down or said mean things.
In therapy, I’m remembering or feeling all this horror, sadness and abuse. In person, my family seems fine in a way. The house is nice and cared for, dinner is carefully cooked, people chat. I feel like relaxing – it’s nice to be with people, I’ve known my family forever obviously, everything is familiar. Plus I’m feeling more confident, I don’t shy away from speaking, I joke around and look at people. Everyone is smart in a certain kind of a way also, and that’s fun too.
Underneath are undercurrents. My mother rarely speaks, though she is busy with dinner preparations. She is withdrawn, and always seems as if she doesn’t think she has anything worthwhile to say. My father is moody always. At one point, we want to bring in the birthday cake with candles, but we are stopped. My father is listening to a stormy classical music CD – Schubert. It seems to be music about the darkest human emotions. He is sunk into his armchair, lamp unlit, listening to this sad sad music, and everything must wait until the piece is over. No one comments, though we joke uncomfortably in the kitchen waiting. My brother is drinking non-stop. He doesn’t get visibly drunk….but he drinks all night long.
So those are undercurrents. On top though, we are having a party and it is fine.
There are no fights. No one argues. No one complains.
I’d say in my family nothing is ever ever discussed or dealt with. Unpleasant, difficult or painful situations are instantly denied and papered over. So I guess you get then a kind of mess that doesn’t make sense.
It’s painful to write this. I want my family to be a good, kind family, to accept the good people they are trying to be. There is no doubt my family tries hard. It’s just that there’s something wrong with the whole set-up.