On the eve of another very important holiday, I am reminded of the message I sent out into the universe around the Christmas holiday. The pain and hurt my heart was feeling as I faced growing pains amongst my family.
We five grew up in the same household, with the same parents, under the same rules, taught to uphold the same values, and very much on the same track. We all went to the same schools, often had the same teachers, experienced the same blessings of overly involved and caring parents (able to count on one hand the rare times they were not at a game, production, honor ceremony, play, performance) – and some how we are all 100% different people. As we become a family of adult siblings it is very clear we all have our own paths, our own faiths, have selected very different careers, opt to keep very different company, with unique dreams, hopes, plans for the future…. we are truly 5 individuals, living in one family.
It is my experience that the challenge rises as we each play out the roles we hold in the family – brought on initially by personality and preferences – and now up held with a weird combination of duty/expectation/personality (as it may have changed a bit since we were younger). We each are struggling to understand the adult we are, the person we hope to become, and how that person fulfills the role once held in our family. All while knowing that our greatest allies, strongest critics – and the ones that have known the story from the beginning – arguably the people up until adulthood have known us the most intimately – are the people that are watching us navigate these waters.
Not that long ago I chuckled at how quickly we all can turn to those roles in a family situation. It is years later and still we find a weird sense of comfort or default that send us right back to our origin: My name is Jackie, I am the oldest, a-type, second mother role who believes it is her duty to assure everyone is taken care of – yet it results in an extreme sense of bossy-ness, all the while believing her other most important job is to be perfect…..which leads to continuous wardrobe changes and inevitably lateness. Of course I pray this at-a-glance (meant to be funny) summary of who I am in my family is only a small fraction, it still provides the true realities of the situation: we all bring good things and bad things to every situation because we are human. Therefore those in our life benefit from the good, suffer at the hands of the difficult – and if we are lucky…. choose to love us anyway.
This year has brought some of the biggest changes in our family. The reasons? Some are new, some are things that have been laying just below the surface for awhile, and some are just the same realities that we are all very different – its just came through louder this time. When I introduced this struggle, I did so for two reasons: one to be honest about the state of my world and why it would look a little different here, and why it would feel a little different in the real world. Secondly I recognized the fact that family relationships and struggles are so very common, and I wondered if my experience (and hopes for finding healing) would help others. However I have not returned to this topic in three and half months. The truth is the growth, the changes, and how we all relate to each other is still very much a work in progress. In a lot of ways this last month has started the shift back to the closest to normal for my relationship with my family – but there are still a lot of tender areas that are hard, and people that I am not connecting with…… basically I was waiting until I could post about it being all better and the secrets for getting there. The truth is that post may never come….. but it doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned a lot and in some weird ways have been grateful for the struggle. So today I post.
No matter the circumstances – and this would not be the first time this has happened in my world – I am struggling with the inability to be in control. If I could just know the right thing to do….. if there was just a solution….. even if it required work or time – if there was an answer, the path forward would not be as scary because it would be visible. But just like the rest of life, the ability to know the exact next step to take or how to address every situation is just not an option. All we have is our faith and good will. The best we can do is to lay our intentions that require guidance at the feet of our Lord and wait for his intercession (this post help a lot). Oh – and while we wait, try to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. For me this is hard – but in this moment in life there really is no other option. So I have taken this time to pray, practiced being patient, and continue to try and learn the art of joy, even when you feel more like anger. Some days I have done well….. some days I have done the complete opposite. And by experiencing both type of days, I have come to understand and truly appreciate the value of living in faith and being patient.
In first talking about this issue on the blog I also shared the difficulties of finding a balance between giving into my emotions or learning to keep them quiet and move on. Emotions are so incredibly powerful – they can be the solution or the problem to any situation. As you get older you do learn to better manage them – but they also get way more complicated – so technically the learning never ends. The answer to this frustration remains pretty much the same as the anxiety – prayer, patience, plus the addition of learning to do nothing. We can actually train ourselves to not have any reaction. Or at lest this is what I have been told. But it is incredibly challenging…. especially when the emotions are so strong, so close to your heart and the situation is so very delicate. The benefits for learning to accomplish emotions management is also valued for all areas of life. Emotions are with us for the long haul….. so best learn to deal with them ASAP!
Through this time I have learned that walking away, taking time to myself, and learning to say “I can’t talk about this right now” are all options. Sure they don’t always feel good and in some ways they can come across as giving up…. but what I do know (though sadly through tough trial and error), the uncomfortableness of walking away from a scenario outweighs the staying and making it worse. I cannot say these tools are a long term option. If you walk away enough, it could mean you aren’t really even there anymore. Building walls to protect your heart can be OK in the moment – but they also can turn into permanent fixtures. However I can’t deny the immense difference walking away and going silent has made to this moment – and other ones – versus staying heated and saying something that ignites. I guess where I stand now is that keeping your emotions in check is never going to be a mistake – its the learning to do it without having to walk away that is the piece that remains to be mastered.
When I first wrote about this time of life in early December I was in a place of great sadness and a feeling of loss. The words that had been exchanged….. the amount of pain inflicted – it was very dark and the hope for any healing seemed so very far away. Time does heal – even if we had to restart the clock a few times along the way with repeat painful interactions. So as I sit here today in awe of the incredible good it has done in many areas of life to learn how to leave my worries for God, having patience, remaining quiet, and guarding against certain scenarios. These tools have become such a help in all areas of life- and provided peace for intentions that I have had on my heart for quite sometime. While struggling through these lessons – Danny has been such an incredible partner. I have been reminded of the gift we have in each other and that marriage is about being the support for someone to remain strong, remain steady, and remain true to what matters to them – even if they can’t remember it themselves. Isn’t it amazing knowing that you are loved – even in your most unlovable state? So now a few months later, what has happened and what is still going on is not ideal, but in the oddest way I now feel grateful for the lessons, even more admiration for my husband, and a weird sense of peace that things happen as they should – so best to just leave it to God.
If you are struggling through a tough time right now – big or small – I hope you are able to find the strength to put your faith in God, your heart and mind at rest, and your emotions on break….. time marches on and so do circumstances.
Thank you for reading and remember to make it a great day!