Going cold turkey is never easy, whether it be alcohol, drugs, too much time on the internet, or carbs. Going cold turkey with regard to people is the hardest thing of all.
This Easter Sunday was the first in twenty years I did not spend with my parents. My mother is still fighting with me over the perceived inadequacies of my life. I didn’t realise it to begin with, but she is prepared to go all the way to prove her point. Where going all the way will take her is anyone’s guess, but she’s prepared to go there.
I was upset about all this initially. My son asked where his grandparents were on Sunday morning but when I explained we weren’t seeing them he was fine with it. He has also felt the strain of their bitter complaints. A look of relief passed over his face which pulled at my heart a little. What must he think of all these adults and their obstinate games? I am sure he often must sit there shaking his head.
Yesterday I felt a little flat. It’s hard for me to belong to a family that I might never see. I like to fix things rather than let them drag on and on, but my mother, she likes the blow-things-out-of-proportion, how-much-melodrama-can-one-person-take approach. She also doesn’t like to admit she may have been out of line. Ever.
Despite feeling flat I also felt calm and very relaxed. It was good to avoid the waiting that inevitably occurs at family events. The waiting for the fighting to start.
Not one cross word was exchanged all weekend. We laughed, we ate, we talked, we smiled. I didn’t feel bad about myself once.
On Easter Monday evening there was an electrical storm. The sound was so great it was as if everyone in the street had put their stereo speakers outdoors and had turned up the bass to the maximum, simultaneously. The sky was that black-white way where it looks as if the night has been painted on glossy white paper, the colour patchy because the paper’s not absorbent.
As the lightning jumped it was as if the storm god himself was running his fingernails through the sky, leaving track marks that flickered and spat like an old 8MM film, jittery for a moment until they disappeared.
And as the sky was seized again and again by the storm god’s wrath, a peace descended in my heart. It was as if that most powerful of gods had taken my worries and fears and thrown them up into the sky to be transmuted into something less potent than a shadow. And I knew in that moment that going cold turkey on a person is hard, but might just be good for my mental health.