Spending the week with my parents has been a real eye opener. It has been a long time since I have spent so much time with them for days on end. My kids have worn my dad out.
|not my dad but not far off. Hoping the girls don’t make him over.|
Earlier in the week I read a piece by one of my fave bloggers, Big Little Wolf’s Daily Plate of Crazy, called ‘Patterns’. https://dailyplateofcrazy.com/2012/03/14/patterns-in-relationships/ It has had me thinking all week especially since I was with my parents.In my clinical social work classes in grad school we learned about patterns in relationships. People will repeat patterns that are comfortable for them even if they are bad and bad for them. People seem to marry a person that has the same relationship dynamic of the parent that they had the most conflict with in childhood. They love that parent, they want to perfect their relationship with that parent, they want to feel that parent loving them.I didn’t get married until I was 33 years-old. I was old enough to know better. I tried to make a good decision, I swear. I remember thinking about it and thinking that I was at risk of marrying my dad but I knew that I needed to marry my mother.My mother is calm. Not a hot head. She worries about things but appropriately so. She has never had a knee jerk reaction or thrown a hissy fit in her life.
(in case you don’t know what it is this is what a hissy fit looks like!)
Not so with my dad. He is much more like me. Hissy fits left and right. He says what he thinks but has less of a filter than I do. He has always been just a little bit emotionally unavailable to me. I have always tried to please him. Sometimes I still feel I come up short. He has much more of a relationship with my brothers but they have more to talk about. They bonded early about sports. I was this girl child. I don’t think he has ever known much of what to make of me. Ironically, I am the child most like him.I was determined after grad school not to marry my dad. I was going to marry my mother.
Imagine me drunkenly walking around a bar
Stanley looked so much like he was my mother. Calm, not over reactive, sweet.
BONK! HORRIBLE BUZZER SOUND!
With the stresses of children, he had knee jerk reactions, shrieking at the kids, he was emotionally unavailable and I found myself working to get his attention. And working to keep the kids peaceful when he was home so that he wouldn’t scream and shriek. Because I hate that. It makes my anxiety go through the roof. My heart races. My childhood fears come back.Possibly he was emotionally unavailable all along. I prefer to think though that he clamped down what little opening that was there. My belief (I would say my clinical impression but I have no ability to form any clear perception when it is my own shit) is that it was there for me until after the kids came along and he screamed and knee jerked and I freaked out to see my dad. I think he shut me out because my freak out sounded like his mother.
And that created a fuster cluck of the worst kind.
***do not under any circumstances google ‘cluster fuck’. It isn’t pretty. Heed my warning.
I realized all of this after about 5 years of marriage. I was having to work harder and harder to keep 3 little kids quiet to avoid the shrieking. None of my friends and family could believe this of Stanley, by the way. They saw him quiet and reserved and mild mannered. Finally a few of them witnessed some of the screaming. My other close peoples have finally taken my word for it. Their witnessing of the bad behavior made me feel better. So I can say, “See?? He is a screaming asshole!” Because otherwise they think I am having an overly dramatic hissy fit.Now, I have been with my parents all week. My dad is still a bit of a character although he has mellowed with age. But he still is spirited and has a streak. My mom ignores him and keeps right on being adorable. She kind of teases him out of the mood and he laughs and it passes. They love each other very much.
I am still determined to marry my mother.