What is it about families? Under normal circumstances, everything is fine. Each person makes an effort to communicate clearly, tries not to hurt anyone feelings and lives their life. Under non-normal circumstances? All hell breaks loose.
I have this kooky Aunt. She is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. At 75 years old, she has lived a life filled with the mundane and the extraordinary. Her world is filled with plants and objects from around the world. She has lots of friends and interests. I don't have a lot of contact with her - a birthday card, presents at Christmas, that kind of thing. Suddenly, she is the focal point of the latest family drama because she had the nerve to get cancer.
Now all bets are off. Each person has taken their designated role. One sister insisting on fixing everything while another is attempting to be loyal to my aunt's wishes. Our insane mother stirs the pot with paranoid conspiracy theories insisting on taking the center role in a situation that has nothing to do with her.
And I fall right back into my middle child role - "oops, family chaos at 90 degrees, time to duck!" I focus on the fact that this has nothing to do with me, make an effort to support my aunt and both of my sisters. Yet feel tremendous sadness. Like every other middle child, I long for my family to get along. I wish for things to be differently. Yet, frequently I stand like Rodney King in the middle of the LA riots asking: "why can't we all get along?"
But we can't. Everyone has stepped up to their family role, putting on the mask and clothing giving up all free will in order to replay over and over again the same drama. I stand at the sidelines watching the play unfold. I long to not put on my mask and clothing. I long to sit this one out. Yet, I know that at some point soon, I'll play my role on cue as I have every other time.