Last minute doesn’t work for me. I am most like the goddess when all my bowls are spinning gracefully in the air. For me, last minute feels as if I’m a clown juggling too many balls knowing they’ll soon come tumbling down upon me.
I pack a week ahead. Just be sure I have everything and everything fits. I like to plan ahead for events, ready when the day comes. One of my dearest friends is a Last Minute Lizzie. Every Easter, she would invite us over and twenty more family and friends to celebrate. We would arrive early to help, and find that they were in the midst of a remodeling project (she liked to take advantage of the gathering to get her husband to fix up the house) and she would still need to shop! So off I would go with her while Steve stayed to help him and frantically we would get it together…rarely before the guests arrived…
My sisters like to fly by the seat of their pants too, waiting to shop when we arrive a day or two before the holiday. That can drive me crazy! I need to plan and be ready. After our parents divorced, my home became the gathering place for my three sisters, their spouses and all their children. It was stressful since there was so much to do before they arrived. I wanted to be able to spend time with them, but was usually so wound up by the preparations and wanting everything to be perfect that their visits became more and more of a burden.
No matter how well I was doing at controlling my eating disorder, the stress of the holidays would bring Bulimic Deb out of her cage. I yearned for quiet holidays. The more stressed I got, the more I would find myself counseling patients with the same Superwoman Syndrome. I would tell them—just say No!—yet could not take my own advice. Finally, after ten years of this holiday madness, I told one of my sisters I couldn’t do it anymore. It was their turn to play Mom.
Yet it wasn’t where we met that made me so anxious. It was being in their energy. I could tolerate my friend’s frenetic energy, but not my sisters. We were too close and would fall into the roles we always played from the drama of our childhood. The more I found peace in my own life, the more frenetic their energy felt. I couldn’t seem to stay centered when I was in their midst.
Every gathering there would be blow up. I was always looking for their souls and they were hiding behind our roles.
Nov 28th, 2004 Finally a breakthrough with my sisters! Always I have dreaded our family gatherings. Early in my adult life, I fretted over the work related to the holidays, then feelings of unworthiness as I worried about the outcome. Was everything good enough? Was I? Lately dealing with deep seated emotion that threatens to boil over, I have not shared my life with my sisters fearing that we could not find common grounds to safely communicate. Still there are gaps but we are closer after this weekend’s tumultuous confrontation, all four of us crying in the bathroom. We needed a red tent and had to create our own chamam experience. Our passion brought on spooky weather. Bitter rain, harsh winds targeted the house. Our husbands took the kids to the mall where the weather was nicer. My sisters claimed that I did not share all with them and I replied that I feared to reveal to them the true fullness of my emotion—my power can be overwhelming. They pushed, then got blown away, then came back for more. My sisters are hardier than I thought. I do feel loved by them but do not believe I appreciate them fully. My sisters are aspects of the divine. They say I feel superior, but I see their unhappiness, their fear, their unwillingness, it seems, to progress. Yet I realize that just because I have leapt so far away from what was our mutual starting point does not mean that they have not also moved. Steve has kept pace, and in their own way, so have they.
As a point being I am supported by their effort, faith, and love. Without them would I be where I am in this moment? I am buoyed up by their being, my own being reflected in the stillness of theirs, in the wake of their progress, exponential reflections of our conscious evolution. Why must we name our faults and weaknesses to equalize the interaction? Yet I do it when I counsel with patients, admitting my humanness, and we grow together.
Over the years I’ve learned to flow more easily when things don’t always fall into place. Now I graciously step into my friend’s house and just lend a hand. And she too has learned to get it together earlier and enjoy her guests.
For my 50th birthday, my sisters treated me to a weekend away. I prefer being in nature so we took a boat trip out to Anacapa Island. No drama just pleasant memories of picnicking on the bluff in the midst of nesting seagulls. My sisters still want to know where I am coming from…I have changed so much. On a beach walk, one expressed concern that she thought I felt our family was dysfunctional. I smiled…three of us had eating disorders, all of us grew up with disordered body images, our mother still struggled with self-esteem and our father lived like a hermit… “I guess every family is somewhat dysfunctional,” I replied.
Then the conversation became confrontational and for the first time in six months, I felt that need to purge. I placed my hand on my stomach and watched as my sister expanded into warrior pose, then I was cast back into our childhood dining room feeling the fear bubbling up as she argued vehemently with our father—always fighting another’s battle—and ending up in trouble herself. And I came back to the present and spoke my truth.
“Thank you for embodying the warrior in our family. But I am not the enemy. I am your sister and I love you.” And since then, there has been peace.
It took me 50 years to flow even with my family. How strange it feels to not care about the outcome, but to be fully in the moment with them. I can get used to this. ☺