I can’t lie, I basically wallowed for most of last week, and really had no interest in stopping. But I think I managed to complete the wallowing stage over the weekend, in large part because my son and I spent it with my crazy family. That may not sound like the best thing to help with all of the emotional processing I am doing, but my crazy family is more effective than any therapy, and spending time with them is certainly a better choice than staring at the wall mainlining Ativan. I don’t see them often, and when I do it always breathes new life into me.
Like many Disney Princesses, I am technically an orphan. Though thankfully I did not have orphan status thrust upon me until 2011. I was blessed to have my amazing mother for 41 1/2 years. But I did lose my father when I was 9 years old. I’ve been told my entire life, “you are just like your father”, and that is something I’ve always been proud of. Even though it was frequently said to me in frustration over something less than desirable I had done. I am my father’s daughter to the core, and nothing makes me happier than spending time with his crazy, loud, funny, Italian family. I have always felt so at ease and comfortable with them, in a way I can’t really explain.
Prior to my father passing away, we would make frequent visits to New York to see them. Thanksgiving, Easter and at least one week every summer were spent with them; along with countless visits for family parties at the local Fire House. With a big Italian family there would be a christening, birthday, anniversary, funeral, graduation, etc. at least a few times a year. We would stay at my Grandmother’s house, and some of my best and most vivid childhood memories are of Thanksgivings and Sunday dinners with all of my cousins, Aunts and Uncles. After my father passed away, these visits became less frequent. My mother did the best she could to keep us connected to them, but as everyone grew older it became more difficult and those visits became few and far between.
We try to get together at least once a year now, and we always have fun no matter the occasion. There are always the same old jokes that we beat to death, but still make us laugh until we cry nonetheless, and we typically come up with a few new ones every time. No one else would find them funny, but as my Aunt would say, we “piss ourselves laughing” every time. And what I love most is seeing how much my son enjoys being a part of all this, how just like me he feels at ease and comfortable and can’t stop laughing.
In addition to all of the fun and laughter, I always get a little reflective during and after these visits. My Uncle’s funeral in February of 2013 was a huge turning point, right up there with the red shoes and Eunice’s removal. It was where I realized just how much of myself I had been stifling, and how life was too short to be unhappy. This past weekend was similar. Probably not a turning point, but I came to a realization or two.
As I sat there drinking my 3rd beer before noon, laughing for the first time in over a week, I suddenly realized “this is how I feel when I am with PC”. He is the only person on earth who makes me feel as comfortable and at ease, as I do with my crazy family. And he is the only person who makes me laugh the way they do, quite often at the same stupid, inside jokes that we’ve been laughing at for months (or years). And, full disclosure, very few people besides PC can day drink like some of my cousins. It was an interesting thing to realize, and it made me miss him, (as if I didn’t already), and wish he was there. Which is funny, because the EX almost never came to any family events with me. And I never really cared, or missed him, because I knew he didn’t enjoy it. I had more fun without him there. I guess that speaks for itself.
This past weekend, as I always do, I watched my cousins interact with their spouses/significant others and it was an awesome thing to see. Sure they argue and have typical imperfect relationships. But they make each other laugh and you can feel how much love is there. My cousins were smart enough to partner with someone who at the end of the day they can say is their best friend, (same goes for my Aunts and Uncles). I’ve always wished I had been smart enough to do the same. Watching them this time though, and knowing that PC and I interact with the ease and laughter they do, did nothing to lessen my anger and frustration about our situation. But much more than that, it made me think of my Mom. Being there and actually missing someone made me realize how difficult it must have been for her to attend these events, and maybe that was one reason we didn’t visit as much after my Dad died.
None of those realizations are particularly uplifting. In fact I could make the argument that they just contributed to the sadness and frustration I already feel. But I have to assume that I’m supposed to be learning something from this misery that the Universe is dumping on me, so I figure any realization is all part of that. I guess I need to process all of this stuff in order to move through it.
I thought about possibly not making this trip, I just didn’t think I was up for it. I am so glad that my inner wisdom prevailed. I’ve only cried twice, and briefly, in the past 24 hours. That’s a miraculous improvement.
I love my loud, crazy, Italian family. They were just what I needed to get from wallowing to functioning, and to make me realize I am going to be just fine.