For most of us, when we’re younger we think that our family can do no wrong. Our dad is our hero and our mum is our protector. I mean, I don’t even really remember thinking that about my dad but I know that it must have been true. My dad once worked for a furniture shop and he would dress in the hippo costume for that bed brand and I know that would have made me so happy.
When we get older, we start to see the cracks but it soon becomes normal and we don’t think that there is anything we can do to change it. We accept it. “That’s just my family.”
We survive the arguments and the incidents. We continue to love them because that’s just what you do in a family. You think that even if there is hate, there must be some love, right? Because blood is thicker than water.
I think it must be at different points where people see through the facade. They see through the obligation and they start to protect themselves rather than their family. I guess this comes easier if the family breaks up and so that one family member who was causing the stress is around less.
For me, I think it took far too long and now I write because I realise that your family isn’t a group of sacred people who can do no wrong. I realise that they are just people who are as fractured and flawed as anyone else. That at some point you grow out of the brother and sister phase and become more like adults who are bonded. Then there is less protection, less of some sort of family rose-tinted glasses and you think, “oh god, have you always been like this?”
I don’t live in the same country as my family and I haven’t seen most of them in over a year and a half. As Christmas approached, I was filled with excitement at the opportunity to spend Christmas with them. But believe me, it’s two weeks away and I wish I hadn’t spent hours and days finding someone to look after our pets so that we can be reunited with out ‘loved ones’. It would have been easier and less stress to have our own little Christmas like we have done the last two years.
Recently, I have fallen out with one of my family members that I don’t think I’ve ever fallen out with before. Although they have apologised for what they said, they’re not understanding what I am upset about. Every time I think that my point is finally getting across to them, they take one step forward and then two back. They were spiteful and it shattered the image I had of them. I mean I knew they were flawed, I knew things about them – about how they had treated other people – but they had never treated me like that.
Having been away, I get told what has been said about me and of course I can’t defend myself – I am thousands of miles away. I know they think it won’t get back to me, or that their comments will be taken as jokes or with a pinch of salt. I am starting to wonder whether they realise I have grown and changed. I no longer need to sit and take their comments. I don’t need to make nice and pretend that it’s all fine.
For ages, the idea of a black sheep in a family was interesting and for the longest time I could have quickly pointed it out in my family. But with all this tension and gossiping about me, I’m starting to wonder if I am the black sheep. I’m the one who doesn’t fit in with their norms and expectations.
We have been toying with the idea of not moving back home in the future, and to be honest, with all of this going on I am starting to see even fewer reasons to go back.