Day 23: A family member you dislike
Again, only one?
Seriously though, there isn’t just one person that I loathe and everyone else is okay. I can’t say that there’s anyone in my family I truly dislike. I dislike certain aspects of most of my family members’ behavior or personality, but as a whole I either like or tolerate pretty much everyone in my family.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
I mean, come on. Even if I really did dislike a family member, do you really think I’d throw it up on a blog post? Unless I get a book deal with the prospect of having a NYT Bestseller on my hands, I’m not sticking my neck out quite THAT far as a writer yet.
Still, there are tendencies about a few members of my family that irk me. Badly. Badly enough that I may share some of those traits here without any names. Remember, I gotta see and talk to these folks again at some point, and I’m not into the awkward family holiday thing…
Passive aggressive behavior: let’s just say this is a behavior that I married into rather than grew up with. I’m from direct people who say what’s on their minds — sometimes far too much, too loudly, and too often. When I communicate, I’m not interested in screwing with your head. I want you to understand me. So this behavior was not only annoying as hell, it was confusing too. As of today, I can’t see that this is something that has passed on to my kids, so the bloodline may be dying out. We’ll see.
Lying: this one I am very familiar with since, well, birth. Some were lies of omission, and some were just big ole whoppers. They mostly came from one person close to me who, of course, claims these lies never happened and that I’m crazy (that was another hallmark of my childhood that I’ll get to later). The lies were such a big part of my growing up that I’m not really sure I understood reality as a concept until I was in my 40s. No, I’m not joking and that’s not an overstatement. It took me a while to figure out the real truth about myself in a lot of ways, and it was a hard-fought war. I’m pretty sure I won. At least I hope I have.
Denial: deep, painful denial of shit that was so obvious it was insane. My parents (that’s as personal as I’ll go with this) were the king and queen of denial, to the point that stuff didn’t exist if they ignored it or said it didn’t happen. Revisionist history was the specialty of my parents, especially after I grew up and was no longer afraid to tell my story from my point of view. So, the catchphrase was, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. That never happened. You’re crazy.” I heard that so many times, I began to believe it. That was the root cause of my long battle with mental health, but we all have those, don’t we?
Unwarranted advice giving: this comes from a number of sources on both sides of the family equation. Folks, I try to only give helpful advice, as in the kind that neither assumes you’re stupid nor talks to you like you’re 3. Please don’t give me advice that sounds like you think I’m an idiot. If I’ve been married longer than you, or you’re on spouse number 3 and I’m still married to the only person I ever intend to marry, please don’t feel obligated to give me marital advice. I may not be the woman you want to marry because I don’t (fill in the blank) the way you like, but someone wanted to marry me and he’s still happy I said yes. Clearly, I’m doing something right. So drop it and keep it to yourself. I’m good.
Fear: this doesn’t sound like such a bad thing on the surface, but fear has kept a large chunk of my family from doing much of anything. They often live in the same houses forever as the neighborhoods around them crumble and decline. They don’t travel — not even outside of the city they live in. They say disparaging things about other groups of people, not out of hate but out of fear of the unknown. To these folks in my family, I have always been something between an adventurer and a lunatic. I have traveled abroad quite a few times, I went away to college, I lived in NYC (thought of as Sodom and Gomorrah by members of my family), and I married outside of my race. Clearly I’ve lost my damned mind! To this day, I’m not sure how I lived my life surrounded by this fear and still managed to accomplish all I’ve done. It’s a miracle, truly.
All these traits and character flaws are not from one person in my family, but they touch on the personalities of several of them. Over the years, I’ve learned to overlook some, speak out against some, and just plain tear my hair out over others. Family is something I take very seriously, so it takes a lot for me to just write somebody off — but I’ve done it more than once. Some toxins don’t get to live in my life, no matter how much I may love their source. Dislike is the limit for me. I don’t want to make it to hatred.