Having just returned from seeing my family of origin, I am filled with a mixture of good and bad feelings. Perhaps this is natural. What is frustrating, however, is the memory of what I go through each time I see them.
At some point during our family history, we began to engage in wordless form of communication: a physical massaging of each other meant to convey some kind of closeness. While this unwanted affection may seem to reflect a familial bond, it can be excruciatingly frustrating at times, not to mention creepy and strangely arousing.
Having spent years considering the origin of this behavior, I have concluded that it began as a result of my fatherís open sexual relationship with my mother that created a lot of unspoken and unacknowledged sexual anxiety. The behavior may also have been exacerbated by sexual abuse experiences endured by all of my family members. My mother was abused by her brother when she was young. My brother was molested by a stranger. My sister was date-raped by a friend.
This last trip was good because my reactions were not as explosive when these uncomfortable boundary crossings occurred without any warning. Nonetheless, it feels important for me to reach out to others when with each visit, I remain overwhelmed with the realization that this familial anxiety has hounded me all of my life. It can put me in a state of hyperarousal that can take me days or weeks to shake off.
Now that I am stronger, I feel an embryonic need to ask for more verbal exchange from them in addition to the physical. Sometimes this helps but I feel terrified in doing so. By and large my family doesnít have the emotional skills to give words to whatever is causing this. They seem more comfortable with a kind of groping affection to replace genuine, direct and engaging communication. If I ask for more, I fear it would only make matters worse.
I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has gone through something like this with a family member, close relative, or other loved one.
Lose the drama; life is a poem.