Disclosure: that is not my family. Whose family takes that good photos? Really? Nah, this is just an photo of a family, you know in case the whole concept is completely foreign to you.
The inspiration behind this post came when I recently attended a family gathering and had a few thoughts to my self whilst looking around the room at all these people I'm related to, most I hadn't seen in a few years especially since COVID arrived. Aren't families the strangest things? Like really when you think about it, it's a collection of complete individuals who share only blood line and trauma. Sure that's a bleak way of looking at it, and I do love my family but when you think about it they're complete individuals, some of which you would never have chosen to be around had they not been family.
I also think it's interesting what does get passed down. Not the "you have your mothers eyes" crap, I mean the unspoken rules which make up family dynamics. Like how we don't talk about feelings because that means you have them. Like how when I was first taken in for help with my mental health at 14 my mother told everyone it was to work on my fear of needles and not that I was suicidal. Or like how people don't swear badly in front of my dad because he gets irrationally angry about taking the Lords name in vein even though he's never been back to church after my Grandmother made my parents christen me. It made me think, how do unspoken rules become unspoken rules?
I think one thing I do hate is how when it's family, you NEVER say it to their face. I don't think this is just my family, and I guess there's families out there where this isn't a problem for them. But when someone is seeing someone new and maybe she not liked, we talk about it among ourselves but still invite them to family events and never say anything to their face. What's up with that? I think it's a case of "keeping up with the Jones'". But my question is, who the hell are the Jones'? Who are we putting on a show for? Because I don't know.
I've been trying to wage my own silent war on the way things have been in my family. I suppose I've already shot myself in the foot by making it a silent war. So maybe cut me a break for recognising it at least. I'm aware that my honesty can make my family feel uncomfortable at times but I don't see why I should lie and say "yeah everything has been so fine since I last saw" when they haven't. I'm not going to unload into a whole therapy session, but when faced with this very question at the gathering I told them lockdown was rough, I had a lot going on with my health but I got through it and I'm glad it's over. I was proud of myself. A little win.
Starting this revolution begun at home, I don't want my family from here on out to feel like they can't have feelings or that they have to keep up appearances. We talk about everything with my step-daughter. Age appropriate but also to keep her in the loop, I don't want her thinking we keep things from her or that feelings are to keep to yourself. My relationship works the same way, we feel something we tell them. Talk everything through, and if I'm honest, that's what I attribute us never having a fight too.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I love my family and to a degree I can see how their actions became their actions. But I have also taken a step back and seen the toxicity that we allow as family dynamics and I don't want that to continue. Maybe you're reading this and thinking the same thing, be the change you want and start small.