My family consists of sweepers. For as long as I can remember, when something significant in nature (which is the slightest bit unpleasant) happens my family sweeps it under the rug and doesn’t discuss it, thereby it goes away and never happened. I first noticed this trait when I was around 12. I guess you get used to these little family dynamics because it’s really all you know. This has resulted in a family that internalizes a lot of things. It also means eventually something is going to explode.
With the events of this past week I have been reeling with the reality of what has happened in my family (sorry, vagueness) and I have tried to push it aside. Set it into the deep dark recesses of my brain and pretend it never happened. It’s kind of odd sometimes the way life works. The day after my world dropped into an abyss there were some conversations in the on-line community that I’m a part of that hit particularly close to home. It was as if the universe were screaming at me, “LET YOURSELF FEEL WHAT YOU ARE FEELING!” I was talking to one of my sisters and she was telling me how she was feeling and said, “I don’t know if I’m feeling the right things. I don’t know what the grieving process is.” She spoke with her husband about it and he told her that she needed to quit trying to grieve the “right” way and just allow herself to feel what she was feeling and process each feeling as they come. So I know I’m not alone in the way that I have been coping.
Another part of that conversation with my sister was our roles in our family. She asked me how I was doing and that I sounded good. I said that I was doing fine and that I was trying to keep it together because I needed to be strong for my other siblings. That has always been my role. When I was in my 20s and no longer living at home my parents had just made out a new will. They discussed this with the kids who were living at home and asked them what they would do if anything happened to them. The resounding answer was, “We would call Cristy.” That’s just the way it’s always been. It’s been interesting now that they’re all adults and suddenly my siblings are calling me to make sure that I am OK. A little different. Anyway, she acknowledged that that had always been my role in our family. Then she asked me, “What is my role in all of this?” None of us know what we’re doing. We’re in this new world where we don’t know how to move forward. We’ll get there. I know we will. We always do. But right now it’s like we’ve got our tippy toes in the water, testing it out, trying to find the least painful way to get in.
My family has come together through this tragedy more than I have ever seen them come together under any circumstance previously. While right now we feel like we are left “in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery, forever” I know that together we will make it through the pain.