So, I'm typically a pretty well-held together person. I manage my life, and I handle my stress and the stress of others around me with aplomb (which is a stupid word, now that I look at it). I don't bother others with my woes, I don't lean on people (even when I should), and I just HANDLE it. Or maybe not.
Apparently there's a breaking point for even the strongest, and I hit mine last night. In an apt (although gross) analogy, I'll compare it to our septic tank, which had hit its limit last week as well. The crap was more than it could handle in its full state, so it found an outlet, resulting in a squishy spot in our yard. Well, my tank was full too, apparently, and mostly with the "poo" of others. And three Stellas and a bottle of Pinot Grigio was more than enough to get the funk flowing.
Unfortunately, that funk flowed freely (how's that for alliteration?) with an audience, and I turned in to a sobbing, hysterical lunatic sitting in the rain on my good friend's back deck while the hubby and a few other good friends maintained their sanity in the sanctity of the house. I don't LIKE to appear vulnerable, and I don't LIKE for others to see my dirty laundry aired. But what's worse is that the things I've been worrying about and letting fester aren't MY issues--they all belong to other people in my life. If they had been my issues, I'd have vented them here a long time ago and been done with it, because that's my outlet.
I'm a fixer, just like my dad. When there are problems, we fix them. We find solutions, we swoop in and rescue, and we take care of business. But how does a fixer handle it when the people they love don't want help or can't admit that they need it? There are a few quotes from one of my favorite movies, A River Runs Through It, that just popped into my mind, and if you've seen the movie, you'll understand why I'm afraid of a story that ends in the same way.
Norman and Paul's minister father delivers a sermon in which he says, "Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding."
Norman's girlfriend Jesse says, "Why is it the people who need the most help...won't take it?"
That's it exactly. Those closest to me are the ones floundering right now, and they don't want help, or can't admit that they need it. Or, for whatever reason, they think there is no help for them. It's so frustrating for me, because I see the problems (or think I do, anyway) clearly and the solutions are even somewhat simple. Except there's PRIDE in the way. Pride that causes one person to be so ashamed of what he's dealing with right now that he is lying to his friends about it and has asked me to lie, too. Pride that causes another person to shut everyone who loves her most totally out of her life so that she doesn't have to admit that she can't manage her life successfully. And pride that causes another to shirk all responsibilities and revert to acting like a teenager who gets mad when asked to clean his room or mow the lawn.
These are all family members, if you haven't guessed that already, and I have only written as much as I have knowing full well that none of them read what I write and that there is very little chance of it getting back to them. To complicate matters, one's issue worsens another's issue, they're all intertwined, and they all end up filtering up to me, in one way or another. And I worry. I worry that it's going to end in tragedy of some sort...maybe not as extreme as that of A River Runs Through It, but one that will certainly have lasting impact on our family in a way that causes such damage to the relationships that it can't be repaired. My sister asked me the other day if I thought that any of these situations would be occurring if Edna were still alive, that it seemed like everything had gone to hell since her death. And I honestly can't answer that. Certainly, if anything, her death left us all wounded and less able to cope with these bumps in the road. Her nature was that of positivity and light, and the fact that's not there anymore is not lost on me, certainly. To a certain extent, I'm filling some of her roles, as well as maintaining my own roles, and it just gets to be too damn much sometimes. I don't begrudge it most of the time, but I do feel a lot of times like there just isn't anywhere for me to dump my baggage.
So, thank goodness for good friends who are there to listen when you need them to be, without judging, without shaming, without fingerpointing and blaming, and without conditions and repercussions. I need more of those in my life, or maybe I just need to spend more time with the few good ones that I already have.