Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Knock Down Drag Out Family Here

Last night we had a giant fight in this house. Over pretty stupid stuff, but of course, most fights are over stupid stuff, in my estimation. Or not stupid, maybe, but things that don't need to get blown out the way they do in fights.

My family, we're fighters. We get it all out, sometimes get somewhat mean, and then we cry and hug and we're all friends again. There are of course people who might think this is dysfunctional. And probably the meanness is not quite right, but getting "it" out into the open is right. One of the things this has taught me is that with the people who really love me, and the people I really love, we can act like total pigs to each other, and then laugh about what total pigs we are. I don't think I am expressing this quite right, but it works for us, and I happen to have an incredibly close and loving family. This dynamic has also made me realize that actually talking about things is the most effective way to get through an issue.

For example, on Sunday, Partner got stuck at the home show. She got home forty-five minutes late and this in turn meant we'd be late for the Father's Day dinner we were cooking at my parents house.* I was stressed about this, because quite simply put, my family can get highstrung about things like being on time and eating. When we got there my mother appeared to be in a snit. Now, I could ignore this snit, and try to pretend everything was normal, while all the while getting annoyed with her for being so snotty, or I could ask her about it, which, of course, I did. Her snitty-ness had nothing to do with me, so I made her another Manhattan, pointed out her attitude was bringing everyone down, and voila, a great Father's Day meal ensued. We might fight hard, but we love even harder. We always tell each other we love each other, even after a simple phone call. Like this:

"Mom, I defrosted two filet mignons a week ago and I haven't cooked them yet; do you think they are still good?

"Mmmm... I wouldn't trust it. Or eat it. But this is your choice."

"Okay. I just didn't know. Thanks. I'll talk to you tomorrow. I love you."

"I love you too!"

And then we hang up-- and we say 'I love you' anywhere we are. It's never too awkward. I mean, you love your family, and you say it!

Compare, please, this approach with Partner's family, where everyone keeps their emotions hidden waaaaaaayyyy inside. People rarely display true emotion in a public way, and there's a lot of keeping face. I do not understand this in the slightest, and consequently, when we are with her family, I often feel stifled and shy. I want to call people out for hypocrisy or meanness, the same way we do in my own family. (We aren't any more or less mean, but we just talk about it.) But, they just don't do that, and I try to keep quiet. It hasn't always worked, but that's another story for another day. I have heard Partner say, once, to her sister, "I love you" at the end of a phone call. It's odd to me, since she's not shy with affection in our relationship, or the relationship with her best-friend. Oh well. Suffice it to say, clearly Partner and I have been brought up with very different family dynamics.

Thus, when we fight, it becomes volatile quickly. Partner's reaction is to shut down. My reaction is to keep at her. The more she shuts down, the more I spiral up. It's not good.

I can't even tell you what we were fighting about last night. Something stupid, like watching the TV in bed, which I come down firmly against. I hate the TV on in bed. For years the television moved out of our room, and it came back in for some stupid reason a month ago. It's going out again. Out! Out! Out! And then Partner shut down, and I opened up. Fuck. I hate fighting like that!

In any case, this morning, as I was reading the couples guide to ivf, I realized we must be transferring stress. We've both gone a little "hermit" lately, sealing ourselves off. We haven't talked enough about the pain Partner is feeling, the anxiousness I am feeling, the TOTAL impatience I have about wanting to start with baby making RIGHT-NOW-INSURANCE-BE-DAMNED.

But wonder of wonders, we merged our familial styles, on the deck last night, at 2:00 in the morning. The lightening bugs flashed all around us in the yard. It was quiet, and we held mugs of tea, touched our feet together. We talked-- And we absolutely loved each other. And it's more clear to me than ever, that no matter what-- baby or no baby-- we, Partner and I, are a family.

(On the food-- I can't let this pass:)
*The meal was fabulous. I highly recommend you find a Cajun Injector and then cook chicken on the grill all summer long. We got one from Baby Brother's girlfriend's mother, and now I love her. You must find LeBlanc's since the opening is wider than other brands and this enables you to get garlic, onions, and spices right into to the chicken.


Anonymous LL said...

Déjà vu all over again.
Love conquers all.
If you let it.
I'm glad you let it.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Firefly said...

Ah yes, the yellers vs. the non yellers, I know it well (I am a yeller, or so Jase says). Anywya in response to your question about my budget....at this point there is no longer a budget, just a need to purchase! Tha main problem is the lack of stores to choose from here, it is basically just the standard mall shops. Tommorrow I am going to go to the local trendy, designer, overpriced boutique and not look at price tags...and hope they stock a size that fits me! I will keep you posted via blog reports....

9:46 PM  
Blogger AltMama said...

Hi again!

yes, I think fighting is really important. But as you say, the hard part is to fight about what you are-really- fighting about,not just what trips the trigger.

B.'s family is much more confrontational than mine, and he always accuses me of smoothing things over, making them pleasant. But I think his family sometimes is just volitile for the sake of volitility--and fighting doesn't help in itself if you're just being hurtful and aggressive rather than dealing with your "real" emotions--which are often sadness, insecurity, hurt, etc. you know?

anyway, here's to familiy!

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Robyn said...

yeller, moi. non-yeller, Cindy. after much couples counseling..we determined that we have very different communication styles. me: external processor of my thoughts. her: internal processor of her thoughts. i like to "discuss"...she does not. so much fun. arrrggggh.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Mrs. K said...

Wow...I am so like you in that my family always says we love each other...even if we are just leaving the room! ;) AND, I prefer to keep at my Husband and he likes to walk away...

6:01 PM  
Blogger Katie (WannaBeMom) said...

See? I think when you write about it, you start to realize that just about everyone's family has a dynamic somewhat similar. Thus, perhaps Tolstoy was wrong when he wrote, "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Although, that is one of my all time favorite opening sentences.

4:16 PM  

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