Recently, a friend and I were talking about family particularly relatives, we were sharing our experiences about how it’s like living with relatives (especially when your parents are far away). I made a comment and later on as I reflected I realized how true it was but in that moment when I said, it seemed normal or rather neither of us paid attention to the weight that it carried. ‘It’s so hard telling people that family treats us in such a harsh way, and its embarrassing having to tell people that this is how my family treats me or how it has treated me’ – this was the comment or rather statement that I made, my friend agreed and we even laughed about it. I guess that’s what makes it even so hard for people to leave toxic partners or to report child abuse because we have been told that family is never wrong, family is never toxic and family is all that you have so treasure it. Which might be true but why don’t they treasure us!? Why are they toxic and misleading? Why do they hurt us? Yes, your answers are already at the tips of your fingers, you are ready to pounce but I know that you know that you have a small ache in your heart that you might not show but it’s there, and it agrees with me. Family can be complicated, family hurts us and sometimes family doesn’t love us.
Human nature might be your first answer, amidst humans there must be conflict- you are right more than right. I agree conflict exists but how do we solve this conflict. Here’s where I starts doubting family at a very young age, correction and how to handle conflict. Mind you family is the first contact we ever have. The first meaningful interactions (apart from parents), right from siblings to aunties to cousins’ etcetera. And if there first resolution to you making a mistake is by calling a clan meeting and shaming you well then what a start. These are things that we learn from them. Family is expectant, they demand not ask, mark my words ‘demand’ so much from us directly or indirectly and you are expected to deliver. One swerve away and they are ready to throw it down on you. The first instinct of family is never to understand or talk to you but it is to shame- shout at her, slap those little fingers, bark but never to understand. Their school of thought is the world and society isn’t going to be kind which might be true and they want to toughen you up but why does it include emotional wreck or manipulation. A mistake is made, a child has beaten another, talk it out but also let them know if the consequences. Get to know how they feel and let them know or show them the consequences. The way our family solves conflict is how we will solve it. We aren’t going to learn it from school or peers rather we practice what we have learnt from home at schools and with our peers. What is the use of involving other parties, the trust is with you as a parent and if it is not reflects through your guidance and your authoritative figure, well what a waste. Exercise it, tell them, patience and understanding- later these children will in turn exercise the same with you. But where does this theory of mine go wrong, as a parent, you aren’t just grooming your relationship or acts with your children, they also learn from how you talk to other people! Little human beings who pick a lot from you and how you relate. That’s what people mean when they say ‘you should be ready to be a parent’; individuality, uproot the bad habits and instill yourself with better habits. Then how does family fail us and not love us, let us use the ‘human’ in nature argument that we started with, humans are filled with conflicts, humans will fail you and with the conflict, humans will blame you and shame you for it! Doubt is already instilled, doubt that turns into mistrust and silence. Not another word about what we have done wrong, where we need help or guidance cause it will not be given. For you’ll be told about how the world is harsh, how you are meant to keep certain things to yourself and all these equal to ‘my parents do not listen. You are willing to tell other people of how your child did something without talking it through with your child, you are willing to listen to another party tell you the wrong your child has done and you are quick to believe! Fronting how other people feel or their relationship before your child’s- a beautiful way to enslave your children to wanting to be liked and appreciated by society instead of liking who they are and exploring. Little acts of humanity. Your other argument might be they are adults (we are to respect our elders) but how do these elders respect themselves when they are in front of you. Unresolved conflict equals tensity and mistrust- an elder who is not willing to say a genuine sorry but you want your child to say it after something has gone wrong. This something that has gone wrong hasn’t been solved, probably as a parent / elder it caused you pain, and you were hurt. 6 months down the road, you are bringing up the same issue when something isn’t done right! Child interpretation- mommy doesn’t love me, people do not forgive so why should I (a child later starts keeping tabs on what you have done wrong and they’ll never talk about it to you cause you didn’t do the same).
Family has taken an authoritative figure but the color doesn’t suit them. 1. They have made it seem like they do not make mistakes. 2. Sorry is the only way to get over with something quickly (cause that’s all they demand to hear instead of sitting down and talking about the issue and the emotions involved) 3. They do not have feelings because you hide them and not talk about them. Yes, you are a figure to these children but you are human with time, children make mistakes and say sorry and leave you hanging because they do not understand the impact or weight. We wait for them to grow up and make them our friends which doesn’t work that way. But then amidst them being ‘the authoritative figure’, they are entitled to your forgiveness since in that whole equation, they do not acknowledge the fact that they make mistakes and thus you are always in wrong since you are younger and they know best. ‘I want to grow up so that I can be in charge of my decisions’- sounds familiar, children are trapped and what to be grown up so they can face you as adults or be the adults that do not mess up. And we wonder why young adults will not admit to mistakes or agree with family. They now see the loophole, they are not blind anymore. Family can be treacherous but we are taught to stand amidst them because we hold the same blood. We are told that the ‘bigger person’ stays calm and walks away. But what do we do with the anger, the pain? We aren’t taught to express these with family, only the adults are entitled too. Family is meant to be happy. But then again we get mixed up when the adults in the family ‘express’ this anger and say mean words, they ‘express’ this anger and we are to listen. They project, think that they know best without even talking to us or understanding our position but we are supposed to understand theirs. School of thought here; we know best but there is just one little problem, the things I am going through as a 21 year old, my younger sister might experience them at 18. People used to have a body count of 1 at the age of 21, 16 year olds today have a body count of 8 and are taking contraceptives.
Let’s be honest, our world is fast and its changing at a weird pace, things aren’t as they were before. People aren’t as subjective and your advice is outdated, so please talk to me and maybe you’ll know how to help.
The commonest school of thought is; ‘where in this world shall you not compromise’- this normally comes in after you have had enough. Family doesn’t go wrong, they don’t do bad things to you, and they do not hurt but are rather teaching you the ‘ways of the world’. Recently, i was involved in a sibling conflict and when I lashed out that school of thought bounced in. I was thrown off and I let out a hefty laugh, it was really heavy cause in my moment of pain, the so called father figure was not looking at himself as someone who had done something wrong but as a teacher of the sorts- and I was supposed to understand if possible to thank him. Family doesn’t bring pain. You know yes, everything in life is a lesson but the lesson you have learnt doesn’t mean that you have to put yourself in the same spot again just because you think you know better or that you are more cautious! You have learnt the lesson, spotted the patterns now it’s time to break the cycle. Why would I want to put myself in a self-compromising position all over again with family, and with his statement, I knew that this person would do it all over again and I am supposed to compromise! To what end? If family is fueling my unhappiness and they are aware then are they really my family. Another scenario (one that I have had countless time), my school is really far from home and when I leave, I am really gone for a long time. But Christmas holidays were here and my mom wanted to see me. I head back and the rest of the family was already home. I rush to my bedroom, get a towel and as I am walking to the outside bathroom, one brother of mine bombards me with a question, “how come you have not dried up the bathroom or rather squeezed out the water?” I was in shock, these boys and their families had been home for 5 days showering in that wet bathroom and now they want me to dry it up. I told him no since clearly I hadn’t used the bathroom, so he goes on to complain and honestly I was marveled and the rest of the family joined in to complain. I went and showered, dried up that bathroom and left theirs undone. For the longest time, I have been doing such things, i rush home and allover a sudden they want me to do things yet they have been home. And my family’s point of view is ‘since you are a girl, they see you as the care taker’. And fir the longest time, I have been disgusted and angry in silence. With time, this has grown into resentment – I am ‘rude and disrespectful’ which they are now unhappy about because I speak back and tell them how I feel. And then I started understanding why some of my cousins never turn up. This has pushed me to a wall where I want to be alone and I desperately want to start over without them. (Read the heading of this blog – strong feelings ). I have been pushed to a point where I realized that I might not love my family back, to a point where I doubt them, to a point where I have considered changing names and walking alone. Yes, a part of me dearly hates them. And yes, most of them read my blogs. And every time that I tried to express my feelings, I had to tag it with but you know I am an emotional person – scrap that, family arouses these feelings, you make me feel this way, you hurt me, I do not trust you, i am disgusted and appalled by what you do, say and think. Family will say the most gruesome things, they’ll think the worst of you, and pose as the ones that have been hurt and wonder why you don’t turn up for events, they’ll want you to stand by and say sorry for what they said. Sometimes, I rethink of the moments when i accidentally heard of the thoughts or things my relatives think about me and they have the guts to stand and smile with me. Conflict or displeasure is one way you can know where you stand with someone and if their reaction is constant, then never doubt it. Take their word for it.
Another school of thought most of you are going to have after all this; ‘that is how the world is’. And I’ll not lie to you that I have withstood lies, betrayals etcetera from friends and other strangers- and truthfully thaws the only time that I’ll ever compromise cause in the end they are strangers (you can easily move on, a lesson from someone that you are not entitled to seeing again) or rather let me rephrase it ‘I’ll only compromise when I have a certain goal or mission to fulfill’. Compromising for family is damaging because you’ll have to see these people again over and over again, you’ll have to hear their names, where you’ll have to look at their children. So, cheers to a family that I might not entirely be able to cut off.