I flew out of my home state at midnight Friday night to arrive in Ohio early Saturday morning. I made it to my mothers bedside around noon where she promptly asked me to take Dad to lunch. (She needed a break) Dad and I didn't struggle to converse much and spoke frankly about life, religion, politics and family. He seemed genuinely interested in my life work as well as the giant differences I have found between Math/logic minds and the majority of the world. There were a couple moments that became awkward when he shared his personal belief in the form of a fact that, "people are not born gay." I winced and replied, "errrrrr, lets not go there." Of course this reeled him into a speech of scientific "facts" showing they have shown zero findings.... on and on. I thought through the information he shared, internally splashed water on the fires he started and replied, "ok, let's change the subject because we just won't agree."
In order to explain the changes I experienced these last few days I need to take you back to Friday while packing my bag. I loaded the pack full of confidence items as well as a few liberal items to make sure to stand my ground non-verbally if not verbally. I have not needed them. As I was loading the bag Ike asked me, "You know how you are a totally different person today than you were when y'all had troubles, correct?" TOTALLY DIFFERENT. I was totally different. I was still trying to become the person they had painted for me to be. After I confirmed that his assessment was correct he went on, "Well, are you able to consider that they are totally different people than then too?" He further explained that I am heading into an old problem with old friends that are totally new people with meant that I was expecting old them, old me, old problems but planning to handle them as new me. Instead I could maybe try to go in as the real me and watch each family member with my new eyes to see who they really are too.
This was an amazing win for me. Skipped a fight and decided to not only to stay on the higher ground but I let him remain there with me. Back at the hotel Mom asked me to wash her hair. This was interesting experience for me to bathe my mother, the woman that bathed me as a kid, was now under my hands receiving my aide. I still have no words to describe it...but I someday will, and will share then. There is a much bigger lesson to be shared than what I jotted out already.
Here is what I have learned through my new eyes at second glance.
Here is what my observations from this new window I am staring through showed me.
My oldest brother is happy. His wife is gentle, prepared and generous. He isn't financially struggling and enjoying the perks that money brings. He is genuinely accepting of those around him. He shared stories that prove how deeply he loves his children no matter what they do or say. He is willing to listen to things that don't align with his personal belief system with out being mean. He has favorites, that is apparent... most of us do. He loves his wife. I don't remember him being so genuinely relaxed and happy. That makes me happy. I actually thin the new/real him could like me... or does?!
My next oldest brother loves life. He loves to laugh and has a wit that could compete with Chris Farley and David Spade. He doesn't seem to be a person with secrets and would share with you his honest truth no matter the question that you ask. He loves Banksy. (that seemed to say a lot for me) He admired my tattoo and laughed when I told him mom cried at seeing them. He was willing to share things that he found useful as well as make sure the people around him were caught up and in the loop on what others were saying.
My Father was willing to explore his past traumas with me. This was for the first time. He shared that when he thinks about his experiences with his Dad he is disturbed and hurt deeply so he doesn't think about them. At the beginning of this conversation he called this "Getting over it" but by the end of the conversation he seemed to admit he avoided it. He has deep roots in his religion and feels very confident that Mom will be fine. He loves to tell people that I am his daughter. He shared many different memories he had around me signifying that he enjoyed those times with me. He told my mother that her and I are the only good mothers he knows. That blew my mind. Maybe my dad does like me. The real me.
My little sister was pretty much the person I know. Although as soon as I typed that I tried to look again. She was tired, quiet, nervous. Maybe her jokes around being the queen bee were just to hide that. Maybe they always were? It turns out that I don't think I know her much.
Turns out I don't know any of them much.
I am sure that there are times that re-meeting a person is both risky and not worth it but in this situation it deemed worth it.
I guess the way to sum this up is that I found out that who I am, since I dropped my job as actor-trying-to-fit-the-image-of-who-they-wanted/thought-I-am, they decided they do want me around, they do love me.
But maybe is opening up a chair in my mind for possibility to take a seat. And that's new.
Feels nice. Scary, but nice.