Pretty much since the Holidays, I have been dealing with family stuff. Well, I've been dealing with it at times, and other times I have not, both with traumatic effect. There are some hard things in my family history. Since mid-January I have been discussing these hard things with a counselor. He has helped me a great deal. He has helped me realize that I have some compulsive behaviors that have developed as coping mechanisms from my childhood. Those things, which may have served as adaptations when I was in my youth are now maladaptive as an adult. For some reason it is hard for me to accept that my childhood may have been traumatic. I have this illusion that everyone grew up with the kind of stuff that I did. Even now I hesitate to use the word "abuse". Maybe more folks have had abusive childhoods than I think and we have all coped in different ways.
In any case, I have been thinking about this in terms of my re-entry into family life in Pittsburgh. One of the best things that has come out of counseling is the realization that I need to create very firm boundaries with my family when I move back to Pittsburgh. By the time we move home, Marnie and I will have spent more time as a married couple in California than we did in Pittsburgh. People really don't know us as a couple. We have developed habits and rhythms. We have a culture. It has some flaws, but overall, it is a healthy culture where we are both nurtured and are happy. One of my main priorities when I move home will be to protect that culture. I'm not saying that our marriage is an impenetrable fortress...well, in some ways I am. Or at least I want it to be. My point is that there are alot of pathologies that I would like to protect our relationship from. I am growing in an understanding that as a husband, and hopefully sometime soon as a father, my primary concern is to protect my household and sometimes that means protecting them from my family. That's a hard thing for me to say. I don't want to close the door to my extended family. My deepest desire is to be a healing presence in my family, but I have some of my own healing to do first. Some of that includes expressing some anger, and I'm not good at that.
Anyway, like all of my thoughts, this one is still in motion. I guess what I'm dealing with is the definition of "family". I guess I've been dealing with that for awhile.