I have to get to work but I can’t move forward with my life without starting the process of coming to terms with this latest email from Brother1:
Hi Sister [cc to me]
Just wanted to let you (and all [bi-coastal] family) know that Brother1Wife & Brother1Son & I finally made a [family vacation property] plan and booked flights for [Summerdate1] to [Summerdate2]. Yay! Our plan is typically tight as usual as we have [homecity] work stuff on [thedaybeofre Summerdate1] & [thedayafter Summerdate2]!!!! Boo (hoo)!
Anyways we fly in Sat morning at 10:30 AM, and will come to your house in [Sistercity] for visit & gathering. We would leave the party in time to catch 5:45 pm reservation on the ferry.
We are looking forward to seeing everyone at your house!
I will do a close reading through this text to bring to the surface the myriad of thoughts and emotion triggered by this event announcement.
What came to my mind this morning during the dog walk as I was mulling over my reaction is I was asking myself why I have this recurring problem with family gatherings. I have finally identified that I have deep feelings of distress and distrust associated with attending family gatherings.
One idea came to mind during my walk. During my childhood my mother and father hosted jazz jam nights at our house on the weekends. A few of my father’s best friends would come over and they would play dixieland jazz music. In the summer the doors and windows would be thrown open and the music would drift out over the entire neighbourhood. Us kids would play out in the yard until it was too dark to see: prisoner’s base, hide and go seek, crack the whip, run sheep run, etc. All the neighbourhood kids would come and join us. We had a 1/4 acre yard of fruit trees, long grass, and humps and hillocks to hide behind. It was so much fun.
My mother sang with the band and, to my ears, was a wonderful singer. Everyone had a jolly time. Slowly, my mother’s mental illness took hold. There were a few of these nights where her attitude and behaviour were so unpleasant for my father’s friends that the jam session nights stopped happening.
My family never, ever talked about what happened to end the jam sessions.
Now, my siblings love to arrange for family gatherings and everyone plays music. I dread these events, and I wish I could both join them without any hesitation and I wish I could avoid them entirely. I yearn for the love and fun reminiscent of those jam sessions, and I dread the alcohol, anxiety, depression, emotional incest, bullying, alienation, and addiction that everyone brings to the events today.
If I don’t process this invitation I will have it on my mind every waking minute driving me crazy.