As much as there were lovely moments spent with my family, for much of the day I felt like I was sitting in a room full of screaming people. Oh wait…that’s because I was!
I can’t believe I used to jump right into the middle of that fray. A salad of talking, yelling, arguing, laughing and a conspicuous lack of listening, observing or gentleness. I know, what was I thinking, family gatherings are for out-louding each other, not quiet! At one point, I was so exhausted from all of the noise, and all of the conversations I couldn’t follow, that I jumped ship and took a nap in the guest room. After a nap I felt refreshed and better able to cope with the energy afoot, but I still felt like I was the eye of hurricane, but failing in maintaining the integrity of my borders, despite great effort.
I shared this observation with my ADHD gentleman friend and he said, of his own family, “oh yes, sounds familiar”.
I used to just pick a conversation and jump into it at full volume, joining in the madness with sword and shield in hand. The problem now, you see, is that I’m not interested in doing battle. I’m not interested in having no boundaries between myself and others. And I’m very upset when I state a reasonable limit and it and my energy are corroded, over and over and over by the action of repeated assaults. I’m not into telling others what to do…but when, in the course of five minutes, your family drunkenly pesters you over and over and over about the fact that you just want to sit among them and read, rather than jump into the madness, it’s frustrating. I’m demonstrating my desire to be there by sitting, and listening and participating in conversation…is it really necessary that I be drunk and screaming as well? I simply ask for respect for MY limits, they can do what they wish with their own.
Sometimes, even when I try to go upstairs for twenty minutes to air my brain out, my parents will scream from downstairs for me to join them…my cousin saved me from that fate this time by peacefully knocking to let me know it was time for presents. It’s a small thing, but I was grateful for it.
I am most interested in honoring my inner voice and that is the gift that I have given myself this year. I have learned that I need to respect my own limits, and choose to populate my life with people who will also respect them. But you can’t choose family, and you can’t change them. Nothing like the holidays to remind one of that. I have received many gifts from my family, including my awesome brain chemistry. Many, many gifts. But those gifts bear no relation to my right to have my borders honored.