Spending a week away camping with my family recently was both deeply relaxing and at times extremely frustrating. As I experienced moments of frustration, though I couldn’t always stop them, I could however observe myself as the feelings took over.
Why was I getting frustrated in the first place? This was a family holiday, camping right on the beach with amazing wildlife all around and nothing to do but swim, nap and find a good spot to read and relax. I have one word that explains it. Family! I love them, but sometimes they trigger my frustration like no other human beings can. Our interchange with each other is based on years of behaviour. We all have our likes, dislikes and oddities. We can make each other laugh hysterically but we can also drive each other crazy.
I set my agenda early. Reading. I wanted to sit and read. And I told them, I told them all, don’t hassle me because I want to read this year. I’d seen others in the group do it, why couldn’t I?
As I sat in my camp chair in the shade of our makeshift living space determined to enact my chosen course of relaxation my loved ones around me had other ideas about what constituted relaxation. I love having a good chat, but can’t they see the book in my hand? Food preparation, an understandable distraction. Outings; can we go to another beach? Can we go for another swim, can you come out with us and catch waves? Yes of course, I love all those activities, and naturally it’s only fair I take my turn shared among the adults for beach safety. BUT I WANT TO READ!
Everyone had their time table and it seemed that their plans for one reason or another required action by me to enable their desired outcome. This is not a complaint, it’s just what I observed, more about myself than about them. I looked long and hard and wondered how I had contributed to being an enabler, a provider, a necessity to others, a conduit they had to pass through in order to obtain something. How did I come to hold that position? I wasn’t the only one of course. There were a few of us in the group that also filled a similar role for our respective dependents. Did we create this way of being because we want to be in control? Was it just a side effect of being a parent? Was it because I take my responsibilities seriously and I like to make sure those around me are looked after? If so why was I frustrated by it? I’m not one to shirk my responsibilities. On the contrary I would feel guilty when attempting to enact my own desires to relax to the point that, when the opportunities to relax arose, I found myself asking if anyone needed anything? I invited interruption. I maintained the structure of dependency equal to or perhaps even more than those I was ‘responsible’ for.
It wasn’t my wonderful crazy family after all, well not totally. It was me. I was responsible for how I interacted with them and it was up to me if it was going to be different.
Let’s see what happens next year when I sit in my camp chair, book in hand. I think I’ll make a few signs to hold up to help re-educate my loved ones and myself.
‘I’m not moving but I’m actually really busy right now’, ‘Before asking me, ask yourself’, perhaps just ‘Do Not Disturb, information download in progress’ or ‘I love you, but please go away.’
I guess I’ll see how it goes. Ultimately it’s my choice to go with the flow, swim against the tide or step out of the water.