May. 15th, 2016

ljlee: (muzi_um)
My husband's family feels so weird to me sometimes. Yesterday we had dinner with Mark's parents and then his dad suggested we drive to Ganghwa Island, about an hour away (it's also where one of my ancestors is buried), to see the sunset. He drove us, we chatted about stuff, we saw the sunset and Mark and I took pictures. We drove back in the dark, talking or just keeping companiable silence, came home, ate mangoes and bananas Mark's dad had bought for us, and Mark's parents watched television before they turned in while us kids did our own stuff.

Did you see that? The total lack of blowups, old grievances, strained silences, drama, or games? Just four people enjoying each others' company? Did I mention that Mark's parents are divorced and were perfectly comfortable having dinner and spending two hours in a car together just being good friends and their son's parents?

It still blows my mind sometimes that a family can just... enjoy each others' company without underlying unease or some hidden agenda, without navigating the minefield of old resentments and perceived slights, without inevitable fights and long Why You Suck speeches spoken into seething, miserable silence. It's even more foreign to my experience that Mark's divorced parents have a better relationship with each other than many married couples, including my own parents when Mom was alive.

I know intellectually that this is how emotionally mature and stable people behave, and that you get these lovely and peaceful times with family when the family members have no psychological trapdoors ready to be tripped by anything and everything, when they genuinely love and care for each other and can control themselves. I know all this, but experiencing it for real is still so weird sometimes. I also suspect Mark's parents are more stable and adjusted than most people, given how rare amicable divorces can be.

And the fact that I fit so neatly into these dynamics, that I'm not causing any cracks in these family times or dragging anyone down, helps me see that, hey, I'm actually pretty normal, too. That helps me get away, little by little, from the sense of wrongness and brokenness that was instilled in me from childhood on. My dad always said I, or my brother, or our mom, was the problem and he was fine. Well Dad, guess who fits right into a perfectly normal family evening? This bitch!

My father, of course, in his self-serving gaslit reality thinks Mark's family is somehow dysfunctional and oppressive. Yeah, if being at peace, surrounded by caring and stable people, constitutes oppression, then I'll take it. Maybe my senses are all out of whack or I'm lying as my dad constantly accuses me of doing, but I like this a whole lot better than what I had with my birth family.

Being part of a stable, caring family is actually a thing. I'm not messing up anything by being here, I get along with everyone and I'm a good, stable person myself. I'm really okay, despite a lifetime of being told I am a fundamentally flawed person who makes others unhappy. I'm going to bring my own child up in a happy and functional family, and my kid will have a super-loving and gentle dad who will model the supportive, secure family life that still seems so strange to me.

All this is overwhelming at times, even after three and a half years of a blissfully happy marriage. I could get used to this. Just give me time.

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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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