When I go back home I turn into an angry teenager
I “couldn’t find” a picture of myself as a teenager so I used a pic of my idol at the time instead.
Sorry that I've been really behind on my newsletters but it's only because I'm still getting used to my new routine here in Portugal. I.e, I've been too busy bathing in the ocean (IN NOVEMBER), eating fish and drinking wine at every meal. Well, sort of — it hasn't been all great. lol my anxiety would never allow me to simply enjoy life and just appreciate how lucky I am, you know?
There's one particular thing that has been on my mind lately. When I arrived in Lisbon, me and my son lived at my mother's house for a couple of weeks. The relationship between me and my mum during that period was an emotional mess, and I was literally out. of. control. I was acting angry, selfish, bitchy, hysterical, lost. In other words, I was suddenly sixteen again.
I'm sharing this with you now because I think a lot of you will relate to my behaviour. If you're an adult and feel like you act like a teenager when you visit your parents' home, then you might like to know that this is actually super common cognitive behaviour. But I guess some people experience it more intensely than others. It's exhausting.
When I arrived at my mother's place, it was like I completely forgot that I am a fully developed adult, who books her own dentist appointments, pays her taxes and is also the parent of a toddler.
There was this one episode in particular that made me realise that I was acting like a lunatic. I was arguing with my mum and I yelled out every teenager's most famous words, "I HATE YOU, I HATE EVERYBODY, NO ONE GETS ME", and stormed off into "my room", where I lay on "my bed" and sobbed.
At that moment, I literally transformed into a version of myself that I thought I had already left behind and moved on from. Confusing emotions that I had experienced as a teenager came rushing back, and all of them felt too real. My son was staring at me confused. I calmed down, hugged him tightly and apologised for my theatrical behaviour. I felt guilty and pathetic.
After that small breakdown I became more conscious of my actions and did some research. I felt comfort in learning that apparently there's even a social theory that explains what the f was going on with me. According to what is known as the Bowen family systems theory, "Families so profoundly affect their members’ thoughts, feelings, and actions that it often seems as if people are living under the same “emotional skin.” People solicit each other’s attention, approval, and support and react to each other’s needs, expectations, and upsets. The connectedness and reactivity make the functioning of family members interdependent."
The real problem occurs when there is a build up of anxiety and tension, which happened during those two weeks I was at my mum's. The theory states that "When family members get anxious, the anxiety can escalate by spreading infectiously among them. As anxiety goes up, the emotional connectedness of family members becomes more stressful than comforting. Eventually, one or more members feels overwhelmed, isolated, or out of control. These are the people who accommodate the most to reduce tension in others."
I am the youngest of 3 siblings, and have always been the one who most deeply felt our family's emotional ups and downs, even if unconsciously. That's the role that I took on within our tribe, and so naturally it's the role I revert to when visiting home. "When families come back together, they often have a habit of reverting to the same roles and routines established years ago, even when those patterns are no longer relevant or at all useful".
This is why some of you turn into slobs when you visit your parents' homes — you're used to them doing everything for you. Let that sink in for a sec.
To conclude, now every time I step into my mother's home, I have to take a moment and think to myself "YOU'RE A GROWN ASS WOMAN. KEEP IT TOGETHER FFS."
Before I go, this is most probably the cutest thing you’ll see all week.
Ok, bye. Take care xx