Tag Archives: family dysfunction

Family Dinner Uncovers Crap Factory

Remember the movie with Bill Murray where he wakes up repeatedly to the same day? Probably in my thirties, I could have told you how the plot wound up, but this many years later what sticks is the emotional roller coaster he went through as events iterated ad nauseum. Getting outside of self-imposed limitations feels like that. But I have learned how to spell nauseum.

I’m trying out the “Law of Attraction” as a filter to for my self-management. The idea is that our subconscious and underlying beliefs draw to us the stuff of their imagining. That is terrific for people who dream of ponies and fairy sparkles but I’m up against a rough neighborhood. My conditioning has me convinced that I can have love OR success and certainly not both and quite possibly neither. So when I start heading toward success in one area, the wheels fall off in the others. It feels like that movie.

I was at my sister’s for dinner the other night, and my mom was there.

Cue the cellos.

“How is school going?” she asked.

As things go, school is FANTASTIC! I am back in it. My days are filled with research and interaction, technology and writing, ponies and fairy sparkles. Gold stars. Real ones like “Can I use your assignment as an example for my next class?” Expansive ideas — real ones that can lead to cash flow. But when Mom asks how school is going, I am suddenly in junior high. She isn’t asking me how school is going. She is asking me to justify my value. I’m 45 and she’s 83.

(And shut up, she is too. You don’t know her.)

Panic. Look to sisters for immediate assistance — nothing. Each of them takes another peanut butter bar. In “I Dream of Jeanie” would Jeanie have been able to disappear if she’d had to move her nose manually?

I’m pretty sure something really stupid is going to come out of my mouth and I imagine my lips glued together. Not sure what to call ‘IT’, but IT is happening again. Fighting against the magnetic vortex of suckage that IT inevitably brings makes me need a peanut butter bar something fierce. Don’t talk, I tell myself. Just don’t say ANYTHING.

“School is going well. I enjoy it very much.” The straight, honest answer escapes before I even know I’ve spoken. But it was innocuous. Hookless.

“But how are you doing?” Outsiders might classify that as genuine concern.

“But?” “Are?” “Doing?” Meanwhile, I am taking the first of many bites that will soon become half a pan of peanut butter bars and trying to count how many simultaneous attacks the woman can launch. Three at first count. My mother accused me of lying, told me she is surprised when I do well, and let me know that to her my worth is based on my performance. Hmmmm…

“I am doing well. I enjoy it very much. I have turned in all of my assignments.” Goddammit! You saw it coming, didn’t you?

“Oh, good, you have! Does your teacher like you?” Not even kidding. A clapping point for turning my work in?! A professional journalist who designed my program is giving me gold stars and my mother wants to know if I’m popular. And that still has weight. Yep, definitely middle school.

I subscribe to an email list that sends out monthly reports about what are the energy trends happening in our world. This month is about identifying beliefs and patterns that spin string balls from the crap factory. I have an impressive collection of crappy string balls. For sale, as it happens. It is too painful to think of these as attacks coming from the person who was hired to play the role of Chief Nurturer. Instead they are a gift from the gods to illustrate the insidious confusion and sick messages that sabotage my move forward in health and vibrancy. The idea is that if I can recognize them, I can address them and begin to strip them of their power. None. Too. Soon.

I married my mother and called her by my ex-husband’s name. But how do you divorce your mom? And still give her some honor. Are we required to do this?

We all have them: these voices of simmer down, stay small, and who do you think you are? The people who are threatened by our big-ness. They remind us to not be dicks to people we have influence with, to encourage toward audacious living. So next time you hear the cellos, just put the dessert out of reach and wiggle your nose. While we are finding the voices that pull us in the right direction, we may have to build these muscles in a vacuum. But we are not alone. Follow your passion, be unreasonable in your beliefs, and for the love of peanut butter bars, learn how to shut up when you don’t want to say anything. That last one was to me specifically.