"I can't do this anymore," I said, throwing my hands in the air for further emphasis. Dad had complained about Brother's messes throughout the house on Saturday night (he's moving in with my parents) and Brother lost it, slamming the door and squealing his tires on his way down the street to show he was wronged and very angry.
He called to say he was returning for the girls because they were his daughters and he wanted them, leading Mom to say that he couldn't have them. Little One was already asleep and Smallest One was on my lap, having cottage cheese and babbling at me. Instead of sharing my opinion that Brother was drunk and out of control, she decided to yell at Dad for being constantly critical. She brought up the fact that he'd retired no less than four times, knowing he feels awkward and guilty about his lack of income. I scooped Smallest One up, hissed "Inappropriate!" at my mother and proceeded down the hall where we pushed all the buttons we could find to start a happily noisy bubble where family unpleasantness continued to intrude.
"I'm sorry," I whispered to her when she turned to look at me. "Brother needs help and makes terrible decisions. Grandpa has always been eager to point out flaws and Grandma and I are very, very dramatic." She grinned at me and I smiled back, pressing a kiss to the fine hair atop her head. I cuddled her, more to comfort myself than the tiny one in my arms, until she squirmed to get down to play.
Mom stormed down the hall and I went to the living room to kiss Dad on the cheek. He would later call Brother to apologize, making me shake my head that this cycle of 'be a selfish asshole and people will bend over to accommodate you!' will continue indefinitely. I moved down the hall to explain to Mom why she'd been wrong, concluding with the fact that I wanted out. "It's too hard to be here," I told her.
"I know," she said, still looking wounded. But it affects me, I defended myself, unable to sleep later on. The worry and hurt, the anger and yelling. I feel unsettled and afraid and I don't like it. I spent some time in prayer, letting my fingers entwine and eyes close as I recited words and drifted through thoughts until I felt more peaceful.
Mom moved my Jeep in the attached garage and Dad helped me load it yesterday morning. Chienne hopped in to impatiently wait for the journey to begin while the three of us caught a howling Sprout and deposited him inside the car as well. I gave hugs and kisses, feeling overwhelming love for each person there as I felt Dad's beard against my cheek, Mom's arms cling, Little One's leap into my arms and Smallest One lifting her face for more kisses. I also felt this miserable regret - I distance myself for my benefit and while it normally makes sense, in the moments when I'm leaving, I nearly suffocate in the crushing guilt.
I felt like I could breathe again as I pulled in my own garage, opening doors to let the animals run outside and downstairs. I rearranged the living room to make room for my new tables, gasped with delight when I found a gift from Friend on the front porch and adjusted the temperature so it was slightly warmer inside, still remaining far cooler than my parents keep their house. I began to settle in again, sleeping deeply last night in the big bed and making my own coffee this morning. I have errands to run and documents to write but feel oddly stuck here - caught between missing those I left and embracing the gentle quiet I've created here.