Family Dynamics

Sunday 29 July, 2001

I spent the weekend on the coast with family. Here are some of my observations from the last three days.

I arrived on the train, unaware of the tight schedule and slight panic I was causing in my dad and my aunt. We had only half an hour to get to the restaurant.

[Karaj: You also have a tendency to panic.]

There were ten of us – five young ones at one end of the table, and five elders at the other end. I took control of the first round of drinks. I checked one person’s order, which my dad used as an opportunity to put me down for not listening. I told him to leave it and that I had everything under control. I maintained a positive approach throughout despite the complaints at the bar from my brother that we were not being served. This helped to highlight the shift I have made away from negativity.

We drove to the beach. Dad managed to have a go at my brother for bringing his beer with him from the restaurant and Andy began to walk off in a mood. I went after him and calmed him down, saying that he has no need to listen to dad. [Karaj: Rescue. Stop this ‘please others’.] This may have been the first time in my life that I have supported Andy fully, as opposed to siding with my dad or, as was more often the case, trying to please both of them and keep them both happy. Andy and I were to spend most of the weekend together, something which I am sure got to my dad somehow.

[Karaj: You don’t need to side with anybody. Hence your back pain.]

The following evening we went for fish and chips and a walk along the beach. At one point, while I was talking to Andy, I heard my dad say, ‘Every time they’re together they look as though they are plotting something’. This would explain a previous remark of his to me that, ‘You two are as thick as thieves’. He feels left out somehow.

[Karaj: You need to make sure you are not scoring points by being with Andy.]

It was just like old times. When the seven of us used to go on holiday together we would invariably end up in the pub and today was no different. The youngsters played pool and football games while the adults sat and chatted. Dad threw a little tantrum in the pub when I was buying a round because he desperately wanted to carry some drinks to the table, but none had been poured. He walked off in a sulk just as his own beer was put on the bar. This happened in front of me, Andy and my cousin. Andy and I were not too complimentary about dad, but the look in my cousin’s eyes suggested that we should still appreciate him – he lost his own dad 14 years ago.

Back at the house we all chatted before going to bed. This weekend I have noticed dad’s negativity and his sulky tantrums more than ever. I have been able to anticipate his negativity because he is so predictable with it. His martyrdom has also been obvious; he is so ready to suffer, or go without, when there isn’t even any need to. This is where I get it from. [Karaj: No wonder your back is hurting.] I noticed that dad was not the patient listener I have always thought him to be. Also, he is too sarcastic and dismissive.

[Karaj: This is important for you. You have all these traits.]

I recounted the tale of missing my return flight from Germany; this was the only time where I felt that dad and Andy were getting at me together. With Karaj I had predicted that this sort of thing might happen because at times in my life the two of them have tended to make me feel small and stupid compared to themselves. This was the closest they came and it was a joke at which I was able to laugh. I recognised it immediately and had no problem with it. Except that they nearly didn’t let me finish.

On the train home I reflected on the weekend. I had been very positive all the time and had assumed control for my own life and for certain situations, which is something I have never really done in the past. Up until recently I have allowed situations and my own life to be dictated to me by the actions and attitudes of others.

I really enjoyed my time with Andy, and I am grateful for the opportunity to further establish my relationship with him whilst at the same time changing my relationship with my dad. Somehow, it makes sense for them both to witness my relationship with the other. I have been stuck in the middle of them for too long and this weekend has helped me to see exactly where I stand. I am looking after myself, and will not tolerate anyone who tries to stop me or put me down, and neither am I willing to indulge anybody in their moods or tantrums.

I noticed, listening to my aunt’s stories, that she is a very good storyteller and all because she does so very calmly and without any drama or theatre. I have enjoyed my time with my cousin. He has added to the male energy I have shared with Andy.

Most of all, I enjoyed putting into practice what I have learned over the last year and a half. I did not look to my brother to tell me what to do as I have always done in the past. I was positive and tried not to be dragged into negativity or any other games. I was quiet when I needed to be, and I interacted with everybody at some stage.

I spoke to Andy the next day. We chatted briefly about the weekend and how much we both enjoyed ourselves and each other’s company. It was much more than either of us had expected.


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