Monday Musings #16 – Writing About Relationship Problems and Families

I love my family. Really, I do. I’m lucky enough that my grandparents and aunt’s family on my mom’s side have lived nearby since I was a year old. But at the same time, I don’t have a lot of patience for family drama. Add that to one of my favorite people in the world while I was growing up kind of being a drama faucet at just about every available opportunity and, well…

In lieu of actually ranting, though, I’d like to turn this into a writing exercise. Might as well turn it into something potentially productive, right?

Everyone who has been in a romantic relationship has had some amount of relationship hurdles. Even if it’s just small but frustrating stuff like “for the love of god if you finish a roll of toilet paper and don’t put a new one on one more time…”

Anyone who hasn’t is lying.

But here’s something I didn’t fully appreciate until recently: those hurdles can affect the people around the couple, and when they do it can be a significant effect.

Say you have two couples. Couple A has their issues, even serious ones, but they keep it behind closed doors. Their friends and families aren’t particularly aware that they’re having a rough time, and therefore no one ends up dogpiling in with their two cents. That’s not going to have much of an effect on anyone around them, except eventually they might break up and it will come as a surprise to everyone.

For better or for worse, couple B is not as discrete. There’s a lot of different ways that could manifest. Maybe one of them is the kind of person who wants the people around them to pick sides. Are their friends and family the kind of people who would…

  • Take one’s side and be nasty to the other just on principle
  • Take one’s side and offer support, while remaining non-confrontational
  • Take no one’s side, at least not officially, but stay out of it and on okay terms with both
  • Take no one’s side, at least not officially, but privately think they’re both in the wrong and gets more and more pissed at whichever one is more responsible for dragging everyone into their drama but will never say so because ugh, confrontation
  • Just really try to ignore it and not take sides, with minor exceptions when one of them is being totally insufferable
  • Not say anything to their faces but casually try and defend the underdog when the meaner one is really laying into them about something

Other factors to ponder:

  • Does the couple have kids together?
  • Are the in-laws drawn into the fray?
  • Does it become a factor at family gatherings like birthdays and Christmas?
  • Who’s sad, who’s angry, who’s both?
  • Who accepts it as just something that’s happening, like whatever?
  • Who’s frustrated and wants everyone to just shut up?
  • Who has a lot of feelings but has no one in the family they feel like they can discuss it with, rather than just telling/venting/dumping and getting no response back?

Families are complicated organisms. We all know this, and we’re frequently counseled to write what we know.

What family dynamics would you add to these lists of possibilities?

A to Z Challenge #18 — Random

I believe in a random, “it is what it is” universe. It is value neutral. It just is. Things like luck and fate exist, but they’re never for or against you — they just are what they are, acting on whatever you are.

There’s a song by Motion City Soundtrack that caught my ear the one time I ventured out to Warped Tour at the Shoreline in Mountain View, sometime between 2006 and 2009. I’m no longer sure if I actually heard this song performed or if I didn’t listen to it until later, on the CD I bought there. The line is,

“They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you who you are.”

And I thought, yes. Because there are a lot of things that don’t kill you, but don’t make you stronger, either.

Continue reading “A to Z Challenge #18 — Random”

A to Z Challenge #16 — Parks

Apparently it is National Park Week, April 16-24. Thank you Girl Scouts Instagram account for letting me know that in time to share it with the parenting magazine followers.

I’m not super outdoorsy but I do enjoy a good park when I’m in the right mood. This might not be something that came naturally (ha) to me so much as something I picked up from my family. My brother, two of my uncles, and three of my cousins are Eagle Scouts, and I myself was a Girl Scout until middle school when it got to cliquey for my taste. As a kid we went camping at least once in every family road trip, and I was dragged along on my brother’s Cub Scout camp outs because my mom was a Den Mother. One of my uncles lives in Montana and is a retired forest ranger who owns horses and goes in kayaking trips with his wife in their spare time. His sons, both Eagles and both in Montana as well, are a large animal vet and a forest fire fighter. My dad’s most recent birthday was celebrated in a national park so he could get his official senior’s pass.

We are an outdoorsy family. I tried to be like that for a long time, tried to be more of a tomboy, but that’s just because I’ve never been all that femme either. Now that I’m older and a lot more comfortable with being the black sheep of the family, I’ve shed some of the stress I’ve carried around since my childhood.

Because my partner and I now have our own place, I haven’t been in a park since spontaneously taking a solo hike the day before Christmas Eve. It was nice. More often, though, I have frequented dog parks or interestingly overgrown parts of town where we can walk our six year old chocolate lab puppy.

I like walks. I like taking the time, occasionally, to go somewhere completely on my own power and feel the wind in my hair. (We live in a fairly windy part of California.) I like the smell after it rains, whether it’s concrete or mossy earth. Walks are positive, grounding things for me, whether I take them alone or with company, in ambient noise or listening to an audiobook. I don’t need a park, but I do appreciate them. Maybe I’ll visit one this week, make a day of it – but if I don’t, that’s fine by me too.