Dysfunction(al) is an overused word. Think about it. Everything is dysfunctional. Families. Governments. Churches. Courts. Schools. Couples. Even an individual can be dysfunctional if he/she has dysfunctional brain cells. And of course there’s Bob Dole’s favorite: Erectile dysfunction. (I wonder how much they paid him for that Viagra commercial and how did Liddy feel about it?)
When I was growing up I thought there were two types of family: the alcoholic one like mine and the Ozzie and Harriet one we watched on TV. The two types were probably not as far removed from each other as I thought when I was a child. What exactly was the reality beneath the smooth facade of the Nelsons? Maybe Harriet nipped a little when she was home alone day after day. Maybe Ozzie had a paramour. Maybe Ricky spent so much time on his music that his grades bit the dust. Maybe Dave, the first child (the hero) was single-handedly holding the family unit together. Not an unrealistic scenario if today’s psychologists are right and all families really are dysfunctional.
When I first met my in-laws I thought they were like the TV family, not crazy like mine. Of course I was wrong. We were no more dysfunctional than they were, they just hid it better. One thing sticks out even today. My father-in-law had about as much difficulty showing affection as my dad did. (Could be their generation, the WWII men.) I knew he cared about me but he never said he did. I cared a great deal for him. He was funny. So he put a bit of fun in dysfunctional. He passed away after D and I were separated. I still miss him. I imagine D misses him something awful. He was a good, good man.
I learned a great deal growing up in my crazy family. I learned to survive. I learned to laugh. I learned to run like hell when things got too crazy–sometimes by literally running and sometimes by simply removing myself geographically or emotionally or both. I learned to take those skeletons out of the closet and make them dance from time to time because they really can be entertaining and funny now that I no longer live in the same house with them. More and more every day I choose to forget the dys and look for the fun.
A sense of humor is the greatest gift! So have fun with your dysfunction. That may be why you have it.
Credit to Mary Engelbreit for the poster pictured above.