When it comes to family crisis or tragedy I tend to be unusually emotionless. I go into shock mode and keep it together mode. I have learned that you do not break down or if you do, make it quick and get yourself back together because you have things to take care of and a front to portray to the world. If I break down and lose it during a family crisis the world will end and everyone will get pissed off.

For example when we got the call that my sister was dying my husband came to me sobbing, but I just crawled back into the bed with my baby girl and curled up in a moment of shock. Then I immediately began getting our stuff together to go to my mom’s and directing my husband on things to pack. I broke down in a sob for about 1 minute (no exaggeration) then I sucked it up and kept going. This is a lifelong pattern for me. This is what I had to do.

I remember when I was about 12 years old and the entire family was having a knock down drag out fight in the kitchen. Everyone was there for this event (my older sister, my baby brother, my baby sister, my mother, my step father, and myself.) This was nothing new or shocking in our household. The only difference was that this time we also had an exchange student from France there with us, and she was a high school student who spoke very little English. The fact that our family had an exchange student living with us for two weeks was insane in itself. We could not keep it together for two weeks so she got to witness one of our traumatic events unfortunately.

The main players in the fight were my step father who I lived with from the time I was 4 until my senior year of high school, and my older sister who is 4 and a half years older than me. My two year old baby sister was terrified so she was clinging on to my older sister’s leg. Even though she was my step father’s pet he was in one of his self centered rages so he did not even notice her. During the fight he picked up my 16 year old sister and threw her out the door of the house onto the deck outside and slammed the door. He was holding the door shut so she could not come back in, and she was pushing the door trying to get it opened. She was screaming something that he was not computing in his rage, and baby sister was crying. He kept all of his weight on that door to keep big sister out. After a while he finally heard what she was screaming…“The baby’s finger is in the door!”

My baby sister had remained attached to my big sister’s leg in terror as my step father physically threw my big sister out, and he had slammed the baby’s finger in the door and held it shut. Once he finally realized this he did open the door. My baby sister’s finger was smashed, and everyone changed their focus to getting her to the emergency room.

I ran screaming up the stairs in horror and panic to have a melt down, but before I could even cry my mom called me back down. She told me that they were all going to the ER so I would have to come down and fix breakfast for our poor French exchange student who was probably wanting to get the hell out of our house.

So I had to pull it together and come down. I had to act as if nothing had happened. I had to be gracious and smile and scramble some eggs for our guest. We couldn’t even communicate because of the language barrier, but I could see the worry and compassion in her eyes.

This kind of thing was common for me. Hold it together. Put on a smile, and act as if everything is normal and okay. Show the world that we are a happy family, and clean up the mess without showing any real emotions….This is my job!