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08/06/22 - 8:45 a.m.

I wake up, all rested and comfy. And happy - I'm feeling love. The only problem is it makes me realize how troubled my childhood was. But the good news is it's a chance to let some things go.

So, yeah, dysfunctional family. And the problem is always your own reactions to them. Like, I was always looking for fun as a kid -- everyone is, but maybe my mindset was even more so. And my parents were kind of cold and artificial. All the more reason to look for some joy?

But, so, eventually, I'd got the idea of playing a kind of game - pretending to be a certain way. And I enjoyed winning that game -- ha ha ha, conning my parents into giving out extra approval. I'm so clever -- and this is so under my control. There's books that will tell you this is the "fantasy bond" -- it's hard to let go of this success you've imagined for yourself. But it's also just a flavor of magical thinking. (Which is also hard to let go of...)

The thing is, this made it really hard for me to ever step out of line. (Because it's not just a moment of disapproval. My whole identity is suddenly at risk...) Sometimes I wonder if other family members figured that out about me. That the thing I hated most was being less-than-perfect, all of a sudden. So when they wanted to push my buttons, they'd just radiate this very intentional "you're bad" vibe -- just to bluster me back into surrendering.

And the bravest thing I ever did might've been to stand there and take it, defy all that carefully chosen and considered browbeating -- the thing they knew I hated. Even with all the power of that fantasy bond making it feel like there was so much more at stake than there actually was at the time...

All these years later, it's like the classrooms where you went to high school. At the time it felt like your community -- but it just isn't there any more. And yeah, there's been deaths in my family -- and there's a freedom that comes, a chapter finally ending. But the big insight I'd wanted to share is that that's why those showdowns were so hard for me. With my sister and with my father.

Because I had this dysfunctional-family-role that had always ensured my security -- my approval, my support, my caretaking. By the logic of my magical thinking, I was risking it -- and the angrier my sister got, the more "bad" I'd appear to my parents. So dangerous to be in that position; such a fearful predicament. Yet I had to do it...

And now as an adult, I realize it's just better to be loved -- to go where you're loved. Better than to play-act for mild bits of possible approval. Better to not even delve into that kind of commerce.

Better to just never again play those games...

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