I have been spending the last several hours in prayer.
The idea that stress can finally overwhelm families is not a new one. The extreme example, of course, is the cases of a family annihilator - the man or woman who snaps and kills everyone an then either disappears or kills themselves. The other end of the spectrum are those who refuse to ever acknowledge there is anything wrong at all - they will stand up at dinners and toast their wonderful parents, talk about their fabulous siblings and ignore the fact that one is in jail, the other is passed out drunk in the soup and Mom and Dad spend the entire Thanksgiving picking fights with everyone around them.
I think my family falls comfortably in the middle.
Never have I pretended to be perfect. My Catholic faith would not allow me to do so, for St Paul wrote that all are sinners (even the Virgin Mary had to be 'saved' from Original Sin, outside of time and space, through the merits of her Son, Our Lord and God Jesus Christ - which he did at the moment of her conception). I spent many years mired in the world of alcohol and drugs, promiscuous sex and the pagan lifestyle that allows one to do whatever you want as long as it 'feels right to you'.
I have also spent the last 19 years trying desperately to atone for that time. Sometimes I have succeeded and other times I have not, but I have tried each day to remember that I am sober by the grace and mercy of a loving God and there is nothing particularly special about me - other than I am one of God's kids.
When members of the family (whom I love) go off the deep end, it hurts the group. No man is an island and the behavior of one causes the others to hurt. It is that simple.
I forgive him, of course, but I have a difficult time trusting - I never fully trusted my father and when I discovered, after his death, that he had looked me straight in the eye, thanked me for all my help and support and then outright lied to me about his will and which attorney to go talk to in the case of his death, it devastated me.
As a result of that hurt, I get overly nervous because I know the people my sibling has hooked his life up to and how they have cheated and lied and gone after other people - and BRAGGED about it. They are unkind and they are devious and I was (up until early this morning) frightened of getting hurt again.
But it has dawned on me that it really doesn't matter. If I am kicked out of here or have to sell the house to pay off the 50 grand we owe on it then I do...so what. I will live in a hotel - shoot, some woman spent 10 years in an extended stay hotel because it was cheaper than an apartment and you can have a pet - and I am going to be fine.
So God reassured me this morning that my fear, based on my past experiences with the narcissistic men in my family, are not valid. He has my back. He has taken care of my future. I only have to keep quiet and out of harms way by avoiding the traps of Satan - and I am doing that by just staying quiet in my room until the parish dinner tonight.
Besides, I need the rest.
Thank you, Father Dominic and St Therese - you prayed with me all night and I appreciate the help.