Thank you for your welcome back wishes!
I've been thinking a lot about my trip and what details to share, but honestly so many moments were packed with family drama and dripping with double meaning that I'm trying to process it a little, and pare it way down. Some sort of cohesive experience to try to make sense out of it for myself. Maybe I'll start with a list. Though, two words stick out for me, as I just said them over and over and over again through out the trip. Okay, four words:
Oy vey. And
We were in New York from late Wednesday through Monday afternoon. Most of it pushed the limits of some family dramas, while others were pushed back upon. If that makes any sense.
This was not a wedding most of my immediate family was looking forward to. It was fraught. No one, apparently, thought this was a good idea except my brother and his wife and in-laws. I think. Since it was fraught, a lot of the old family dynamics came right up to the surface. At some point, I realized I was letting Little S___ lead instead of just being me. Me who is strong and capable and can think for herself. Me who feels things and carries on anyway.
Halfway through the visit, my BIL (A's husband) came in for the wedding. He is strongly opposed to the match and actively does not like my brother (I think. They have a rough history). Normally rigid and needy, BIL was in rare form and added cranky and almost hostile to his repertoire. My sister spends a lot of time attending to his needs, but he was outta control (like, the car rental AC wasn't strong enough so he had to ride in my dad's car. It was very hot. Humid. Everyone was uncomfortable. God forbid he sweats or something). So A is stretched, taking care of him, managing my dad somewhat, and working with me to manage Grandma. This is what A does, often. She comes in and takes over. Tries to take care of everything.
For the most part, A and I got along great. I mean, better than ever. But there were times when I could feel us slipping into the old roles. Made me anxious. Really anxious. But it made me stronger. I had to be aware and, as much as I could with everything else going on, I was able to hold it together. And hold on to me. This Me. The one who can socialize and take care of stuff and hold my own in an argument without crying.
My father depended on me, talked to me like a person. Not so much his little girl, but his daughter. A grown woman.
Strong. Social. Opinionated.
I was so angry for most of the trip, I think that kept me energized, but it was exhausting. And I was also so anxious for most of the weekend that I didn't eat very much. I slept 4 or 5 hours most nights. Up until 2 or 3 or 4am working out details or decompressing after an event.
On Friday, though, I got to see B and her husband K and their two gorgeous children. K is very sick, though they said he is doing better now, he is well enough to be active on the transplant list. He tries to keep a good spirit, but it's so very hard. And with two under age 3... Very difficult. Due to extenuating circumstances, B has to be with husband and kids all the time. She never gets a break because there are so few people who can work the machine K is hooked up to. If something were to go wrong, he could die. She feels this intensely.
Somehow, though, it was a really nice visit. I was even trying on some of B's clothes to try to find something to wear for the rehearsal dinner. We went over and saw her mom. B and I go months sometimes without talking, but we always fall right back into sync. It broke my heart to leave Friday evening. I wanted to spend the whole weekend with them. Just easy. Home. Family.
There were other times throughout the weekend that literally warmed my heart with love for and from family and friends. I'm getting choked up just thinking about it. I try to keep that in mind, keep thinking about the positives instead of this terrible mistake I feel that my brother has made. I try to keep reminding myself that he loves me, that he knows he can come to me no matter what. I remind myself that I need to remind him. And resolve to do so.
So it was a weekend requiring constant effort. Constant. And I got through it. With help from C and from family (usually). It was almost completely distracting from the emotional crap I'd left at home. Almost. At yet, I felt good, somehow. Stronger. Trying to look forward.
And then I got home. I couldn't wait to get home. But somehow I feel different, like I don't belong in either world. This weekend reminded me of my own strength, to suck it up and get through it, to deal with personal challenges, practical issues. But it also reminded me of what I don't have: my sons, the life I was supposed to be building with them and C.
When I left for NY, I was feeling tons of anxiety for tons of reasons. I came back, feeling almost positive, like "Yes, okay, I can get through this." But as I become more well rested, fall back into some of the routines, I chafe. This doesn't feel right either.
Where does the grief go? Where do I put it? How do I carry it and honor it (and my boys) and remain positive for the future? Hope for more children, children who live. Focus on my research, my studies -- and that they may impact someone at some point? That I will have good things, good people...a good life after all? Will I?
About six months ago or so, I feel that I lost what was left of my optimism in the world and in my future. This weekend, I got a tiny, tiny piece of that strength back. Courage to continue despite the crap. But now that I'm here, back in my life, I don't know how to incorporate it. I don't know who I am. My identity is faded and blurry like that picture on my license.