The common understanding is it takes 21 days to form a new habit. We all probably know this is a bit of a misnomer. A new habit might be formed in just a few days, and others take much much longer.
Family dynamics are the same. Each of us in a family get placed in a role, or take on a role, and no one else can have that role. Then, when one of you moves out, or grows out of the role over time, things can get a little rough. Rough because when one of us steps out of our role, or that person is no longer around all the time to fulfill their role, a void comes into place causing everyone to flounder for a bit. Everyone is a bit on edge, but aren’t sure why, then the roles rearrange themselves in some way. Someone steps into the role lost and leaves their old one behind, or the void just is and everyone gets used to it over time.
The same is true of how we treat one another. We develop a habit of how to be with one another, and with family members living together, know what one another’s triggers are as well. Sometimes this is all done subconsciously, other times intentionally. Interactions can be productive, or destructive. Hopefully more productives than destructives.
When each person goes on their way into the real world and starts their own journey, one often assumes the path will continue outside of the others, with paths crossing at intervals, random and planned. Visits will occur and over time there is a hope of maturity and wisdom to help rewrite how we treat one another. Or at least we hope it will be different, that we won’t fall back into familiar habits.
But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Actually changing the habit, and having new and better interactions does not always happen. We may want it to happen, swear it will be different the next time, tell ourselves it can’t be the same because it is unhealthy for it to be the same.
Then, circumstances change, and all of those thoughts of bravado are gone. In no time flat, the roles and dynamics take hold, and then what? All the hurt, pain, and unhealthy environment returns. We don’t want it to be so, but it does. When it does, we go through a range of emotions—fear, anger, shame, apathy. Where and when it will end eludes us.
So what to do? Reflect, share, sleep? Hope for better resolve and action on the morrow?