November 23, 2012
I wondered what Aftermath meant. The word actually means new grass growing after a harvest. But its alternative meaning is much more negative: The consequences of a significant, unpleasant event.
The reason I was even thinking about aftermath was because a great many people will be coming home after dysfunctional family gatherings today or this weekend. The aftermath is an interesting perspective to take after such an event.
Let’s start with expectations. Did we go into this event hoping that it would somehow be different than the rest of the holidays we encountered with our families? If so, why?
When it didn’t turn out any different, how exactly did you feel about that?
Did you make any commitments to never meet again? Because truly the only way out of dysfunction is to release yourself from your involvement in it, no matter if it’s family or not.
I, personally, spent my holiday watching an entire family that wasn’t mine. I did so, most of the time in silence, because I wanted to see how behavior unfolded, and I didn’t want to be a catalyst for any new behavior.
I noticed this: Most people want to be happy. They want family gatherings to work out. They plan them to work out. But you get ten people in a room together with different ideas about what “working out” means, and suddenly the dynamic changes.
Perhaps, one or two of the people are actually in therapy. They are discovering what it is to be individuals with ideas completely independent of their family. So, when one of these siblings or parents interrupts the conversation with something foreign, all the rest rebels. What of this?
Well, rebellion is the beginning of change, if you want to stay in the fight and help change happen for the good. But fighting isn’t a good course to make anything happen. My thoughts on this are: If someone says something that ruffles your feathers, you simply respond with a strong, independent, retort that shows you have better boundaries than ever. Let’s take an example.
Mary has been working on her issues with her mother in counseling or life coaching. She was the firstborn and has always been treated differently than the rest of the siblings. Mom simply tromps right over her and expects her to be kind in return. So, Mom says something like this at dinner, “Mary, are you sure you should be feeding your kids all those carbs? You remember how hard it is to get rid of that extra weight.”
Mary says, …
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