My definition of bitchy, as those of you who are more familiar with me and my blogs know, is a strong woman who is an independent thinker with passionate opinions. A woman who stands up and defends herself against those who don’t like her, her opinions or her behaviour. Against those, male or female, who believe that women should only act in a certain way and will label anyone who doesn’t act this way a bitch.
I am quite proud of my hard-earned bitchy demeanour because it allows me to be me, and I happen to finally like who I am. However, there are times that I sometimes feel the need to go bitchy on bitchy and don an optional extra bitchy facade over my everyday independent bitchy one. This is a survival tactic that I have been employing for more than twenty years. It is a tactic that I put into action whenever I have to get together with members of my family.
My family drives me nuts, or should I say we all drive each other nuts. We piss each other off on a regular basis. Some of us take long breaks from each other for sanity sake. Something that I feel is very necessary. We are siblings who yell and get emotionally outspoken with each other. I don’t know whether to attribute this to my mother’s generation, my mother’s family in particular or just my mother who had a good set of lungs in her day and used them to frequently impart her blatantly honest opinions of her children to her children. I do know that, in the past, family get-togethers could end in an emotional, and sometimes physical, meltdown of some sort. There are a lot of issues that we hold against each other. All of us show up with too much old baggage that springs open the moment someone says or does something to trigger it. We do have trouble letting things go.
No matter how strong I personally feel in my everyday situation, I feel vulnerable around my family. To counter this, I put on the aforementioned optional bitchy facade. This, for me, is a defense mechanism; and like any wild mammal that feels defensive, I go into attack mode. I don’t think I am the only one to do this. I think we all show up with our metaphorical knives tucked up our sleeves, hoping that we won’t have to use them but more than ready if we do.
So when I decided to do a socially distant visit with my mother to drop off some Mother’s Day flowers and home-made hot cross buns, I knew that I would also be seeing one of my brothers–the one she currently lives with. There have been a lot of issues about my mother’s situation in the past few years that have caused varying degrees of anger among her children and have resulted in some strong emotional outbursts between us. I personally washed my hands of the decision-making process almost two years ago because I had learned the hard way that mom would conspire to only do what she wanted to do without thinking it through and without any regard to how it effected others. Currently the person this effects the most is my brother Tim.
Before my visit, I expected to feel the shoulder tension that always settles in in advance of any interactions with my family, but I didn’t. I expected to lay awake for several nights dreading the visit as I usually do while imagining various scenarios and developing responses to them, but that didn’t happen either. I credit this to a lot of yoga and several months last spring of banging out all my anger on my computer keyboard.
I arrived late morning, calm, relaxed and rested. I sat at the far end of the deck with my mother and my brother at the other end, about nine feet away. We chatted and it was all rather pleasant. Easier really because conversations with mom these days are a two-minute loop that repeats over and over while we pretend that we haven’t heard it all just a couple of minutes before. Tim, you made the visit easier. Thanks.
While driving home, I realized that I had not engaged my bitchy facade. I hadn’t felt the need to. This made me smile. Maybe, just maybe, this is an adjustment of my optional facade. A kinder gentler version. Maybe, just maybe, all the baggage will no longer matter. I would like to hope that this is true, but somehow I know that somewhere in the future, something or someone will trigger the locks and snap those old bags open. All I can do is try to adjust how I respond in that moment. And all I can say to myself in this moment is: good luck with that.
Thanks for reading.