And then my mom called.
I suppose that her calling wasn't a bad thing in and of itself, nor was her telling me that she and her husband were going to be in town over the weekend. The trouble is, my interactions with my folks tend to illicit a certain pattern of behavior from me, and I've come not to like the person I am when I'm with them. There's so much unresolved baggage attached to the relationship that I end up well nigh immobilized. There's too much anger, too much hurt, and too much disappointment that hasn't been and likely never can be expressed. The result is my falling into a silence that extends to every aspect of my life. If I am quiet, if I'm not noticed, if I don't voice an opinion, there won't be any fights and there won't be anger and I won't have to sit there wrestling with why they and I seem to disappoint each other so much. Better to let them remain anaesthetized and to let me brood in front of the TV or a video game while sucking down Ben & Jerry's.
So anyway, they came into town. I met them on Saturday to find out that they had arrived with a gaggle of their friends. They gave me my Christmas presents (I haven't seen them since November, but that's another story) and then we went to Durgin Park to drink. Yep, a whole afternoon drinking, with my folks' friends teasing me about how everything better fit since receipts are traditionally thrown away by Jan. 31st, and (on the whole "does it fit" vein) asking me if the $50 my grandmother gave to me was "big enough." Of course, I didn't snap back with something 'witty' like, "Well, if you knew my situation, you'd know that $50 doesn't really amount to much, but it will help to ensure that I can eat this month..."
I mean, really, the visit, the banter, and everything that took place should have been chalked up to good natured ribbing in pleasant company, right? I just can't do it. I think one of the reasons I liked The Prisoner series so much is that it managed to explore just how incredibly sinister the merely pleasant can be. That understanding, and being one of the only people around me that has it is the story of my life. Early on, I was forced to be the silent, non-participatory observer. The experience has given me the keenest sense of patterns. The pattern amongst this circle of friends? They control one another through guilt and shame. I don't want to play, so I occasionally call them on it, redirect their focus so that they become their own targets. (They are, after all, so it's not much of a stretch.) I make them as uneasy as they make me.
But wait, there's more... A comment from my stepfather to my mom about how she changes whenever I'm around and how he doesn't like it (hmmm... no small amount of tension there.); My mom confessing that she feels guilty about some of the things that happened to me early on and how she felt powerless to stop it (I appreciate her feelings, especially since she's almost never that open with me, but I really need NOT to be taking care of her right now.)
Don't get me wrong, I really do love my folks, and I appreciate the things that they've done for me tremendously. The problem is, the timbre of our relationship got set by an incident that happened when I was seventeen (a story for a later date, I think), and it's never really changed. I feel like an outsider in my own family and it just hurts.