Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I learned something about communication today.  If one or the other person is keeping score, there can never truly be a resolution.  The goal is not to end the game in this case, it is only to have a set of cards at the ready to one up the other person at the first sign of weakness.  As an adult, we have learned different ways to resolve conflict.  If you grew up in a family where dysfunction prevailed then as an adult you become the master of un-fair fighting.  My husband would say that the more defensive I get the more I pull out "the big guns".  I have an innate ability to find my opponents achilles heal and I will pounce, sever, destroy if necessary.  This  has not served me well with past relationships.  It leads to a very lonely state of existence because at its core it is grounded in a constant state of distrust.

My life mantra is "I am the woman I am today, not because I am a product of my environment, but in spite of it."  But, the reality is, I have absolutely inherited the traits of where I came from.  The good and the bad. The struggle is accepting the negative, placing it on a shelf and thriving in the positive.  Easier said than done.

When I was four years old, I remember sitting on a bench on the back porch of our home.  I loved this home.  At four years old, it seemed like a mansion resting on an expansive estate.  Solid brick with a large tree in the backyard.  I recall my cousins and I climbing up into that tree and playing for hours in the yard and in the back pasture with the grape vines.  My father had a riding lawnmower.  A riding lawnmower!  It was 1974 and I knew no one else who had a lawn so large it required this type of motorized vehicle.   As I was sitting there, I allowed my imagination to take me on one of my many journeys where there was no yelling, no violence, no anger.  In my fantasy world I could not hear any plates breaking against the wall, no screaming to be heard, no failures being announced to anyone who would listen.  As I sat there, my father came out, stepped into the driver's seat of our van and slumped over.  Our van, a big brown Chevy, fully tricked out inside with a bench, a bed, complete with 8-track tape.  It was the 70's and my parents were products of the hippie generation, after all.  I loved that van too.  We would spend hours driving up into the woods, meeting family and friends on what seemed to me to be long camping trips with no headaches, no worries.  And in this van and on the porch of my home, I watched as my father sat and cried.  Not just a few tears, he cried like I had never seen any adult do.  He was sobbing uncontrollably.  And then he looked at me, paused... and looked away.  There were no words spoken between us.  There were none needed.  I saw the defeat in his eyes.  He started the van and slowly backed out of the driveway, staring straight ahead until the front end of the van had disappeared out of view behind the house.  It was in that moment that I learned the hardest lesson of my very short life to that point.  I was alone.  There was not going to be anyone to protect me or take me away with them.  My parents were completely caught up in the stress of their lives, in their own past, with their own demons, fighting against and with each other and I was a casualty of this fall out.  I don't remember exactly what happened after that.  This is also the point that I began blocking much out and allowing my mind to be the gateway to some of the best places I've ever known.  What I do know is that whenever my father left, I was never safe again.

My parents today are good people.  They are brilliant people!  Smart!  So incredibly smart... where was that gene when I was going to school?  They have achieved success in their lives that I can only dream of and aspire to.  And they are admired by many.  They have managed to navigate through life without pissing too many people off, especially their colleagues and those that they mentor.  Again, why didn't I learn that skill?!  Do not get me wrong, I love my parents.  I respect their achievements.  The people in 1974 are not the people I know today.  Except...  there are still no words spoken by one and there is still abuse from the other. When I had my family I vowed to break the cycle.  It never occurred to me that it was not with my children and my own spouse that I would have to break this cycle.  It would be with my parents.  And today I learned this the hard way.  Again.

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