Since John Mahoney of “Frasier” fame passed away last month, I’ve been working my way through the reruns.  Along with being a funny show, it was also filled with surprising bits of wisdom.  One episode has Daphne asking “Why is it so easy to love our families, but so hard to like them.”  Truer words were never spoken.

My Sister and my niece were in town a few weeks ago.  They live in Seattle (I know- odd Frasier connection), so we only see each other once a year.  As they were staying with my Mom, this meant I saw more of my Mother and Father.  Even though my parents live in New Jersey, I try to limit how often I see them.  Because, you know, it’s easy to love your family, but hard to like them.

Nothing increases my stress level more than time with my Mother.  Arguments abound.  We’ve never learned how to communicate with one another.  Every conversation turns into a yelling match, and a show down as to who can interrupt the others the most.  I don’t think I completed a sentence for four days.  It ends with my Mother saying something along the lines of “I’m not screaming.  I’m Italian.  This is how we talk.”  My Father is the opposite though- he sits stoically in the chair and says little.  And my Sister, well, she is the Queen of pushing buttons.  She is also the most sensitive person on the planet.  She thinks every sentence uttered is a personal attack against her.

Happy day.

I love my family.  I truly do.  But spending time with them is excruciating.  I had a headache for the better part of the week because we are truly unable to communicate with one another in a rational manner.  I feel like I’m walking on eggshells when we are together.  I try to stay calm, but my Mother and Sister often say the most ridiculous things.  Ok- to be fair- they may not be ridiculous if you are a stark raving lunatic, but if you’re trying to be a somewhat logical, rational person, their statements may come across as a tad antagonistic.  My Mother has opinions on most subjects.  If she doesn’t have an opinion on something it’s because she doesn’t think it’s a “worthy” topic.  Needless to say, my Sister has the exact opposite opinions of my Mother.  And she makes that known.  In fact, I believe that all the residents of my 19 story apartment building know her opinions on everything.

But I think you get the idea that the visit was mainly spent yelling.

I love my family.  I know they love me and would always be there if I needed them.  I just have a great deal of trouble being in the same room as them.

Never fear.  There will be a few more posts that detail some of the more fun moments of the trip, as I try to logically break down exactly why you can love, yet not always like your family.

36 thoughts on “Relationships: Family

  1. I recognise that from my own family, exhausting. In the end, for me, it all boiled down to: If you exist, can I exist? And visa-versa; If I exist, can you exist? Works out that nobody could say yes to those questions. ‘A tad antagonist’ so to say. 🙂 / 😦
    xx, Feeling

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  2. Families are funny. There are certain dynamics that continue as we grow up and anger that can endure long after those members pass away. I’m sorry your visits are so stressful. Communication is difficult when others are not receptive. You shouldn’t have to deal with the yelling. I wish there were a way to curb it. In your own home you deserve better. I’m really so sorry. You have such strength and patience to continue to have a relationship with them. That is truly admirable. Wish I had answers on how to fix it. But it doesn’t seem like your mom is able to hear how you feel and most likely at this age can’t change. Stay strong. 😢 I feel your pain. Hag in there.


  3. I feel for you. And feel your blog. My family isn’t that radical, but there are people at work that are like that. Constantly interrupting, finishing your sentences, and offended when you disagree. Having that in a family makes migraines possible. But I know you love them…they’re good people DEEP inside. It’s the surface nonsense that is irritating.

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  4. Your headache brought to mind my experience. After my stepfather died, I had to take care of my mother for 13 years. She didn’t live in the same house with us, but I was at her beck and call constantly. It caused tension with my wife. I had migraine headaches by the carload. Since she’s been gone, almost 10 years now, I’ve had maybe two or three. Yes, there is a correlation of family stress to health issues. You are wise to limit your contact.

    Families, to me, fall into the category of “it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

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  5. Family, I married into an Italian family and it was a bit of a culture shock, not that my Irish family is better just different. At times it has bothered me that my family was not as close as my husband’s but after 3 or 4 hours with his family, I appreciate the distance!

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  6. Solidarity. My oldest sister winters in Arizona each year, and although I visited her last year I couldn’t make it this year. Actually I could, but I came up with an excuse instead. I just decided I didn’t want to face an entire visit of familial undercurrents. I totally get what you went through without even being there. Glad it’s over for you. – Marty

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  7. Love your comment about limiting time with your parents because of the Daphne quote. Very funny (and quite true)!

    Reading further on, you have my condolences for the difficulties. To be honest, I don’t have contact with my parents, siblings or cousins anymore. There’s just too much crazyness and I just can’t be around that anymore. So I admire your willingness to stay in touch and maintain those relationships.

    Your last line is great. There are times when I’ve thought about my wife or son “I love you, but I really don’t like you right now.”

    Great entry! Hang in there!

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  8. Unfortunately, it’s like that sometimes. I love my family too, but I have to tread lightly when it comes to my mother. She is a sweet person, but can be defiant and resistant to her own detriment. But when I look at her mother, father and how she was treated by my dad when they were together, I can see why she’s the way she is and I try to take that into consideration when she irritates me. My husband always says we’re all a product of our upbringing. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. But we also know we can take steps to make changes to our personality.
    My sister is a whole other ballgame. She can be very arrogant, abrupt, and has a way of speaking with authority on subjects she has no experience with, like marriage. She really gets my dander up, but I find that trying to stay calm when she gets on her soapbox yields the best outcome. Interestingly, she can be the sweetest person at times. Go figure.
    I’ve learned to “strip off the old personality….and put on the new personality,” personally, by learning about Christ and reading the Bible. It can really change who we are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The family dynamic is tough. I agree that how you’re brought up shapes who you are. The problem is getting the strength to fix what’s wrong and forgive your parents. Most people are not mature enough to do that. But we muddle on the best we can.

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