I remember the day I was standing in the narrow hallway of the ranch-style rental I lived in with my daughters, hand on hip, speaking in a voice that could only be my mother. It was a perfect example of "family of origin" stuff. There I was in her image, saying the words she would have said to me. Family of origin is roughly the imprinted behaviors implanted into our own lives from habits that belonged to our ancestors.
The idea rattled around my brain. I remember wondering why my daughter sniffing her nose and the neighbor's barking dog made me crazy. Why did they bother me?
One day I realized my sweetie and I have very different perspectives about standing up (in public) for what we believe. I can still hear Mom in the backyard, speaking angrily to me about my having told the neighbors that she was a Democrat. "It's no body's business," she scolded in a loud whisper. Funny, I don't talk about political beliefs with anyone except very close friends and family. My sweetie on the other hand has ancient black and white photos of his mother marching in a crowd in Times Square. He's the kind of guy that will stand on the street corner with a sign of protest stapled to a 1x3" garden stake. There is a part of me that envies his courage and a part of me that cringes at his gall.
Most disturbing is the reality that I too mop the backsplash behind the kitchen faucet when it is puddled with water. It is creepy because it was one of Mom's disapproving actions I hated growing up. Her messy countertop obsession transferred to my own aggravation.
It's one thing for me to choose these behaviors. It's another for me to do them because they are incidiously etched in my brain and I'm bound to live out the insanity that came before me. If I'm going to do something weird, I want it to be conscious and intentful.
Lots of work.