The human condition is rarely an uncomplicated one, so after my eldest son’s wedding I find myself reverberating with what I assume is unfinished business or the reactive underpinnings of a jangled individual. Possibly both.
To start, let me be clear. I am thrilled that my son has married, and I am thrilled with the woman he chose. I embrace the forward movement this life event characterizes.
With time as a modifier, I see that I floated (perhaps trudged) through some landmines along the wedding path, the majority of which have to do with my expectations of my ex. Continually disappointed, the insanity is that I have been doing this since 1996. One could wonder about my inability to manage my expectations.
The background static of my failed marriage catapulted me into an unconscious tailspin as divorce threw me back to the three year old child who had viscerally been struck with panic, the need to survive, and grief. I was three when my parents’ separated. But I was not expecting to have this reaction at this event, nor was I prepared for it.
I tell myself I was helpless then, but I am not now. So why am I still behaving like the good girl who overlooks bad behavior and stays non-confrontational? The process was too difficult for a three year old to figure out, yet similar feelings of helplessness cascade over me like rushing water short circuiting my cerebral cortex.
There were moments the night of the wedding that I went on automatic pilot. It is the safest way to deal with ancient issues that surface without warning. Or so my subconscious self decided. If one chooses to stay appropriate, and not dig into the unpredictability of feelings – justified or not – one has a better shot at remaining calm, sane, even aloof.
My dancing was sincere and natural, as was my unbridled joy at watching the child I raised become a man and a husband. I danced with many; my son, my daughter in law, my significant other and his grandchildren, my cousin, one of my ex’s siblings.
Parents, I think, ought to offer their offspring the reasonable expectation of reliance. Not perfection, we humans are far from that. Yet, like sub-aquatic vines wound into a tight knot, life can get messy and complicated and stuck. Our willingness to unwrap layers and shed light on areas of constriction may provide us with expanded perspectives.
Love isn’t just a four letter word. It’s determination, grit and integrity have the power to change us, and with it, our world. See the people in the picture below who are, one person at a time, doing just that.