Monday, January 5, 2015

How You Sayin' Hello?

I was thinking this morning about a story an old friend told me a while ago about a time when she, along with her husband, visited her brother and his wife. I do know she has a difficult relationship with this particular brother, but the story struck me at the time.

They arrived at her brother's busy house. If memory serves (mine doesn't always serve the most nutritious stuff, but I'll try) her brother had a set of twin teenagers at the time and maybe another child? Busy and energetic house as I'm imagining. The part of the story I do remember her telling me is after arriving at her brother's house, she and her husband took themselves into the living room even though her brother and his family were hanging out in the kitchen/family room area.

I couldn't figure that part out, but she was really angry about this. Angry that her brother left her husband and herself in the living room alone. I didn't say anything, but my mind was screaming, "Why? Why weren't you in the kitchen with the rest of the family?"

Looking back, I believe she wanted to be angry with her brother. Given their tenuous relationship I can only imagine why the brother left the two of them in the living room. I imagined the house as large and noisy and energetic and the place to hang out would have been in the family room with the rest of the family. I still puzzle on this one.

At the recent Pup Family Christmas that we co-hosted I had a few family members say, "Edith was here all day and never said a word to me." "Arthur sat there and never spoke to me."

When I hear others say this, I realize how idiotic it sounds. Because, yes, I've said those words as well. "They never talked to me all day." Which means I didn't talk to them. But I don't think any of us see it that way in the moment.

We sit in our seclusion, waiting for someone else to make the first move. Which isn't going to work in a family or situation where the others are waiting for the first move to come from you.

With the Pup Family, when first introduced so many years ago, the family dynamic was to not speak to the new person, which happened to be me. They are a more inclusive and perhaps shy bunch at the outset. And myself, as the new person, spring boarded off of this and I became the one who did not speak first. Probably because deep in me is that watch-and-wait thing that feeds into a bit of my introversion.

Of course, all these years later, I know some of them very well, some not so well, and some not at all. That's how it is sometimes yes? But it is never fair of me to say about anyone, "He didn't talk to me. I sat here all day and he didn't talk to me." Make the effort, silly! You'll soon find out if they want to speak to you or not.

I do love how no matter what your age, if your mind is open you can make changes. But only to yourself as I have to remind MYSELF constantly. Being loud and stubborn isn't going to make a heap of difference to anyone else.

If not, you'll find yourself sitting in the living room all alone while everyone else is in the family room having the best time.


T said...

Insecurities erode the best of us.

I find it unbearably awkward to be in a situation, family or otherwise, where the silence is deafening. I wait -- as long as I can, but if I have to, I WILL make the first move.

Since Mom died, our family has become somewhat estranged, sadly. This bothers me greatly. I've tried to fix it to no avail.

I envy those with large families who take time for each other, if only during the Christmas season.

Deborah said...

I envy those families as well! My sister always says that every family has their crap and she may be right, but it does seem that some families have a better time at getting over and beyond that crap.