Saturday, July 02, 2011

Constant vigilance

Am imagining myself in Italy with Nathan Fillion, instead of lying here in bed, with a headache the size of that leaning tower he's probably posing next to right now. (Nathan Fillion is actually too cool to pose as if he and the tower are both tipping over, I'm sure, it was just the largest thing my poor tired brain could think of.) I actually had a pretty eventful day - wedding crafting with my mom and sisters, which went relatively well.

When it comes to my sisters - to any of my family, really - "relatively" is the operative word. Members of my family have long accused me of being "overly sensitive", and I probably am, but I feel like I am certainly not alone in that personality trait - none of us is particularly immune to the barbs and arrows that are routinely slung around here. Only, for the most part, I feel like they are all only sensitive to what's coming at them, not at what they're dishing out, while I have to be on high alert for everybody's issues. (Hello: I'm an adult child of three alcoholics: I like to try to stave off any emotional conflict before it completely & disastrously explodes - Pleased to meet you!)

But I am apparently the only one who is on hyper-vigilant putting-out-fires-before-they-flame-up duty, because it often feels like every time I tune into a conversation, I see somebody standing there, dropping another match.

It's like they can't see each other's tender spots - or when they do see them, they underestimate the impact on that person when they poke at them. When they're doing it it's "just teasing/joking/making an observation", but if it's done to them, then it's a deliberate insult.

I know people do bite their tongues, which makes me grateful that they have some internal sensors, but I don't feel like anybody else is as tuned into trouble as I have to be. Nobody else seems to see that looking to SisterJ for what comes next is probably putting more pressure on her than she needs/wants, or that continuously laughing at Mum's attempts to cut straight leaves her more embarrassed than amused. Perhaps there's more than a kernel of truth in these things, or in the fact that SisterCh would rather play with her her music list than make a decision, but when people keep poking the same spot over and over, I find myself waiting for the inevitable to occur, and for some to go just one joke too far.

And Lord only knows what happens then.

Part of my apprehension is, of course, this newly formed/found peace between SisterJ and SisterCh, which (it seems to me as a semi-outsider) is being constantly strained and tested by the multitude and magnitude of wedding STUFF TO BE DONE, and while I know it is not my responsibility to try to police their interactions, I keep finding myself doing exactly that. (And then writing super long, run-on sentences about it!) I hear myself re-interpreting something one of them just said to the other, trying to soften a verbal blow that I hope was unintentional, or have to physically stop myself from following after them when they leave a room together, worrying about what might happen once they are out of earshot. It's unreasonable, and I know it, but I haven't figured out how to stop feeling it yet.

They're actually doing a lot better than I'd have imagined, but the potential for danger and chaos is frightening to me, and I know that it's kicking my control freak tendencies into high gear, leading people to tell me how bitchy I'm being, which, when you are really only trying to help, feels pretty awesome, let me tell you. So then I try to dial it back, and wind up seeming uncaring to somebody else. Balance: I need it. (You can't control other people, I keep telling myself. But knowing it and following through on it are two different things.)

What's really evident to me now, though, is how much it hurt when they were fighting - not just them, but me too, - and how powerless I felt during that whole thing. I don't want to feel that way again, so I am trying to throw myself on all the grenades I see now, before they blow us apart again. Of course, this is a stupid strategy, because A) maybe those aren't grenades to anybody else besides me, B) constantly watching for grenades is exhausting, as is trying to diffuse them before they blow up, and C) everybody involved is an adult, and I'm never going to be able to predict or control their behavior, so it's useless even to try.

I am well aware of all those points, and it helps, some, to calm me down when we get to spend a day like to day where there were three separate bouts of laughter-induced tears, two semi-completed projects, and a whole room full of very stubborn people who each gave the day their absolute all, but I have a feeling that this relationship repairing stuff is going to take a lot longer than I want to be on guard duty for, and am going to try to work on that.

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