During Monday night's lecture on Family Systems Therapy, I followed along with the slides and noticed that, for this particular subject, I seemed to have more emotional responses and thoughts than usual. So many of the "power points" sent me off on tangents. It went sort of like this:
Oh yeah, that's a big BUT. How does it impact us? Well, some of us--for STARTERS--wonder how we were LUCKY enough to be born to teenaged parents who treated every weekend like Spring Break in Cancun. Only it wasn't Cancun, it was PCB, because all our relatives grew up in trailer parks and had names like Ora and Edgar. Aunt Ora and Uncle Edgar, themselves, had a teacup Chihuahua that smoked cigarettes and chewed Juicy Fruit, so of course those were the people I looked up to, which set the bar low and early for me. But come on! I have two Chi's and they always swallow the gum, so I haven't even reached that particular goal.
I wanted to belong to the Terrells because they had a trampoline and a pool and Tammy Terrell's dad made all the kids call her mother Miss Jean, not just Jean like we called all the other moms by their first names, and that showed how much he loved her, Miss Jean, the way he demanded respect for her, and it wouldn't be until a few years later that Miss J discovered he was cheating and kicked him out and kept the house with the pool and the kids and the trampoline and the dog. And that's what I call respect. But I certainly did NOT want to belong to the Bowlings because Melissa and Mark's mother Sandra, who we called simply Sandra, spanked us with a fly swatter and, when we told her we were bored, made us sit on the front steps outside and twiddle our thumbs for an hour so we could think of something we'd rather be doing, like riding our bikes or climbing the persimmon tree or breaking open the spider-webby caterpillar nests with sticks and letting the caterpillars crawl in armies up our arms.
No shit, hospitalize the entire family! When I was fifteen, my schizophrenic grandmother came to live with us, and I had to sleep on the couch and she got to decorate my room with a million Jesus pictures and dolls wearing hoop skirts made out of crochet-covered rolls of toilet paper, and I couldn't even go in there to get a pair of socks without crying Jesus staring down with that sad face like he knew I had hate in my heart and wished the old bat would die so I could get my own bed and tv back and lie there every night hoping that Barry Garrett would climb in my bedroom window and relieve me of my goody-two-shoes reputation, so I could keep up with my little sister Kelly, who, at 13, had already been caught parking in the cemetery with Steve Grogan. Instead, Crazy Grandma stayed on, talking to Mr. Rogers every afternoon and checking the mailbox for spies. When Kelly and I were little, she had blamed us for her having to be institutionalized, since we'd been spinning each other in the swivel barcalounger and laughing too loud. My father and grandfather had tied her into her sweater and dragged her out of the house--her yelling, LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO ME at the two of us, which pretty much took all of the fun out of our makeshift sport. Between that and her telling us there was no Easter Bunny, we'd lost any minor affinity we might have had for her. It was hardly any consolation when she decided to jump on our old pogo stick and fell backward in slow motion and broke her wrist. She should have known she was about 300 pounds over the weight limit.
Is it possible that one person can play all those roles, 'cause I swear Greg is ALL FOUR. And if we did family sculpting, they would put me in a crow's nest high up in the farthest corner of the room while the whole rest of the family huddled together on the therapist's couch. Then all three of the big kids would talk about how it was my fault they were fat when they were little, because I ate french fries and cupcakes vicariously through them and ruined their chances of being cheerleaders or ballerinas or blackbelts, which for all practical purposes RUINED THEIR ENTIRE LIVES, and Greg would sit there and nod his head I-told-you-so and they would all point to Lola and demand that I feed her nothing but low-fat cheddar and Clementines until she looks good in a tutu.
Rules like 'Cheese should be yellow,' and responsibility like it is my job to go buy the cheese, but I'm not allowed to buy Swiss or Feta.