Signs of maturity:
Buying a shiny new car + chipping away at student loans + purchasing fancy forged German knife for newfound chefery skills + wearing suits and patterned pantyhose without batting a second eyelash + etc, etc
And then I returned home for the long weekend, to yet another act in their undoubtedly shitty marriage. It's 8:30 pm and you could slice the tension with a butcher knife (perhaps one of those aforementioned German ones would do it) and again there's no dinner and suddenly I remember being 14 years old and fidgeting and feeling like a wind-up doll. Except now I am 2x14 and my hands are still. I don't feel anything except mild irritation.
What I've learned:
Why do we try?
We try and we try and we try because this is what we do for family, for the people that we can't help but love. When I was younger and dumber, I swore I'd never look back. Just leave, I said. I packed up everything - literally everything - in 17 boxes and those 17 boxes filled the car to the brim and obscured the back window the whole way down.
We can't swear them off. It doesn't work that way. Real Life doesn't work that way. I don't know how to give up on them. I keep returning like something futile and witless. They reassemble themselves in the same form. It's maddening and familiar. The stupid non sequitur: things change but they stay the same. Part of the process involves erecting white-picket-fence boundaries in the grass and telling them not to cross it. Part of the process involves separating me from them.
It's painful at times. Sometimes you ignore the jabs and absorb the blows. Some days, a tornado rips through the plot and uproots my fence. What can you do? You rebuild, I rebuild. My sturdy little heart can take it.