Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Home for the Weekend – Is it Live or is it Memorex?

This weekend I went home to Philadelphia for a family reunion, and frankly, the experience was very surrealistic. While the trip was good, and it was wonderful to see some family members I haven’t seen in a long time, at times I felt like I had drifted back to my past, and a past I do not remember fondly, per se. Perhaps that’s what going home is all about.

Certainly all initial indicators were that this was a live event: I saw my nieces and nephews, who I totally adore; I saw all of my Dad’s side of the family, a large diverse group of rather colorful individuals with extensive accomplishments and eccentricities; and I was back in the City of Brotherly Love, a place where I no longer live but will always be my home. But there the sense of reality ended.

First off, while this weekend was the annual family reunion, I had a secondary motive for this weekend: to make amends to my family members. As part of my program, I have to clean my side of the slate by revisiting my past and making right my past wrongs. Since it is rare to be around my family, I made a point of making amends to many of my family members this weekend, forcing me to spend a great deal of time reliving my past.

I made amends this weekend to both my father and my mother, my sister, step brother and cousin. This consumed the vast majority of the weekend, and forced me to relive the most shameful moments in my life. Certainly, there was a great sense of relief that came with apologizing for my actions, and I think my relations with all these people was strengthened by the experience. But the process was fairly painful as I experienced events I have worked hard to forget throughout my life.

I also must say that, though I feel like I’ve grown a tremendous amount over the past year, but coming back home I still feel like a kid. I reverted back to the people pleaser, trying to solve all the problems during the weekend, while having difficulty meeting my own needs. This is my traditional role in the family, and without realizing it I naturally fell back into this role.

Perhaps more than anything I felt like all my growth reverted back to pre-recovery Nomad when confronted by a certain uncle who thrives on ruffling the feathers of everyone around him. At first I tried to take a mature approach to his jabs, to take the high road, and discuss my needs rationally with him. But as he told me that he didn’t care about my needs, and ignored my concerns, I again fell back to my temper and the attributes I’ve been trying to eliminate from my character.

After I regained control of myself, and my uncle decided to acknowledge my needs as a result of the outburst, I was able to talk rationally and express my needs, with positive results. That in and of itself was a step forward for me. But I hated that the old temper, which I had begun to think had fallen away from me, could come back so strongly.

There’s a sayings that family members can push our buttons because they installed them, and I think this was particularly true this weekend. And perhaps my guard was down somewhat, from the stress of making so many amends, and the inability to hit my normal regiment of meetings. But in an instant, I was back to the same scared kid who has always gotten me into trouble. I hope he doesn’t come back any time soon.

Posted by Scottage at 1:22 AM / | |