The Circle

We have all been there. We have all yelled obscenities at our mothers, thrown a glass of wine in a sibling’s face, flipped over a table set with fine linens, bone china, and a turkey dinner. We have all thrown a tuna sandwich at our fathers when we’re in disagreement. Family gatherings can bring out the very worst in people. Family dynamics come into play and dysfunction ensues.

When children move away from home it can be difficult. Parents have a hard time letting go, and children have a hard time adjusting to their newfound freedom. Eventually children adapt to the change and grow into their true selves. They attempt to heal the damage their parent(s) inflicted and often seek counselling or support services. They may ingest prescription drugs and alcohol to supplement the work of professionals.

When children return to their parent’s home after being away, the disruption can be problematic. The family dynamic has changed at this point, but often parents will attempt to “parent”, even when their children are well into their 30s, and their children may then regress into negative childhood behaviours.

An off-hand comment by your mother about your hairstyle, your shirt’s neckline, or your new boyfriend’s earring can send you off on a tangent. Emotions run high, tensions flare: doors are slammed, feet are stomped, and inappropriate words are exchanged.

Special occasions, religious holidays and Sunday ham dinners are especially fraught with hostility. The traditions become especially important and there are expectations that need to bet met on all sides. Little problems turn into big problems and the next thing you know you are throwing a bun, a slice of ham, or a Terry’s Chocolate Orange™ at your brother.

As with all arguments, the animosity eventually subsides and the inciting incident is forgotten. Both parties will attempt to mend the wound with a sideways glance, a slap on the back, a hug, or the elusive apology. The relationship has become stronger for it. And now you can look back at the situation and laugh. Well you can, but your sister is still trying to get the red wine out of her new blouse.

It’s called the Circle of Anger. It is the notion that family dynamics dictate it takes one monster brawl (not to be confused with a Monster’s Ball) to re-establish and strengthen the bond. When you kiss and make-up after a conflict with a loved one, you are re-assuring them of your love. If you had not had the tiff, riff or spat, you would not be in the position to mend the relationship, or express your feelings openly.

When families gather these dynamics are often displayed. Children and parents both want to re-establish and strengthen the bond, and are willing to fight for it.

So, throw that bun at your momma- show her you love her.

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