blogging gobbledygook and such

People take their relationships with their family for granted. It’s a fact. You just assume that since you have to put up with their shit, they just as hell should put up with yours. What you and your family fail to see is that by putting up with each other’s shit you’re tearing each other apart. That’s how the resentment and grudges begin. That’s how family start screaming at each other over the most trivial of arguments.

At the same time, you rationalise that putting up with your family’s shit is sort of part of what being a family is about – you accept their flaws and strengths. That being family is about accepting people as who they are, unlike fair-weathered friends who may not be able to accept if you’re bisexual, or if you’re a big fat bigoted racist.

But that’s the danger of tolerating under the name of family. You sometimes cannot differentiate between tolerating idiosyncrasies and unknowingly contributing to a deeper problem. Where do you draw the line?

Confronting a family member about his or her problem is nothing short of impossible. Firstly, it’s too personal to hear it from family. People can take criticisms from employers, friends, strangers even, but criticism from family is like the ultimate act of disloyalty and betrayal, because of the association with the family image that family are the only people who would stand by you when no one else will.

Another part of the reason why confrontation by family is so difficult to take is because of the way the confrontation is handled. Most of the time we let our emotions get in the way of the issue. As a result, we unintentionally exaggerate the issue and that would bring out the defensive side of the person confronted. The easiest defence is to point out the flaws of the person confronting, as a means of changing the subject and justifying oneself. Before you know it, it’s a full-fledged domestic war with both sides refusing to accept each other’s accusations and thus refusing to change. That’s how the cycle begins. Perhaps this is the stuff divorces are made of.

What’s truly worse is that even when you kill each other with your words you both refuse to go down the path of separation. Then you would continue to kill each other, long after love and respect have gone out the window.

The family dimension takes on a twisted, mutated form that thrives on anger, hatred and bitterness.

Comments on: "Family – built on love, or lies?" (7)

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I can definitely relate. My individual choice was to break away from the toxic family unit. Meaning, I no longer associate with my kin. Of course, this is an extreme solution to a common issue; yet I am of extremes when it comes to self preservation. – Adagio

    sulz: what happened with you and your family? hope you’re happier and better off after making that choice. 🙂 don’t believe could ever do that – too guilty and afraid.

  2. I don’t know that it’s a fact that all people take their relationships for granted but probably most do.And why not? Since we do not get to choose our families, we are, to a large extent stuck with them and their expectations from the time we’re born for a long long time afterwards.

    Some families get on really well. Many others (and I would suspect the majority) are dysfunctional in one way or another. I feel it is a question of choosing your battles. There are some things you may choose to put up with, because you know that confrontation will not solve the problem, in fact it will exacerbate it. If you want a quiet life, you find a way to avoid the issues. There are some things you will decide not to put up with and again you can decide whether to dissociate yourself from your family if they refuse to accept who you are AND that refusal causes rows bad feeling etc, or continue trying to change their minds.

    I think it often works both ways. It takes two to argue, and it’s almost impossible to change anyone’s mind by telling them they are wrong and need to change their minds. The only thing an individual has any control over is their own response and their own attitude.

    sulz: sometimes what happens when battles are chosen is that the person mixes all the emotions from battles unfought into that chosen battle, which makes the issue sound bigger than it is. choosing battles also mean that they would bring up old stories and past flaws because they did not bring it up back then. this is the case in this family.

    telling people they are wrong can make them see the error of their ways. the question is what approach is the most effective. some people prefer to hear it from an unbiased outsider, some people take criticisms better on paper, but yes, some just can’t take it at all.

  3. I have plenty of run-ins with my mom and dad and one of my three sisters. Like Adagio, I too, can relate to this all too well.

    From the time my sister insinuated to my mom that I was gay when there’s no proof to the contrary when I was still a teenager, to the time I want to take up Mass Comm instead of my father’s option of Business Administration and even my first job, my family will try to interfere with my life and try to set down paths that they feel I should follow as if I am their puppet.

    It has gotten to a point where I stop sharing with them about my life and told them half-truths and little lies to paint a rosy picture of my life. Things got a bit better when my dad pass away this year but that also caused another issue to crop up – marriage and settling down… WTF?? I’m only 24, and I’m not ready to commit to a relationship!! Every girl that I hang around with gets a cold look from my mother as if she’s not happy with my choice of companion. It’s so irritating.

    I’d move out if I got the chance. But mom played the filial piety card and threatened to ostracise me from the rest of my family if I move out. She’s okay to be with sometimes, but most often than not, she’s a little overbearing.

    Ah well anyways, they say that blood is thicker than water. But there are times when you have to throw that saying out the window. Many families never know the meaning of tolerance and acceptance…it’s a sad fact but perhaps the future generations will not turn out the way like their ancestors did. Only time will tell.

    sulz: am doing that half-truths trick too! it’s just much easier not to tell them every detail in self’s life. why your sister said that is beyond self, that’s extremely antagonistic if anything, especially in our asian context (am assuming your parents are the stereotypical homophobics just like self’s parents).

    all parents are like that – the moment you get your first job they’ll be pestering you to look for a potential spouse, when prior to that any thoughts of the opposite sex even is forbidden! the rebel in self feel like not wanting to get married just to spite a certain parent for breaking up self’s relationship before.

  4. misslionheart said:

    Phew! I’m one of eight children ranging from 36 to 52. When we were all much younger, there was the usual scrapping, but as we got older (and matured) we all became the best of friends. As for my husbands side (he is the eldest of eleven) there is never a day when *all* siblings are communicating. I’ve known his family since 1988 and its such a shame that they behave this way. My youngest brother tragically died which brought us even closer. Is this what it will take Hubby’s side of the family to come together?

    sulz: honestly? yes, deaths are great peacemakers, sadly.

  5. @sulz – I agree, but that’s not understanding what “choose your battles wisely” means… and I know I didn’t quote the phrase in its entirety. Choosing your battles means choosing those you think you have a better chance of winning,even if it is a small win. Of course, depending on the family it may be impossible to win any battles via confrontation. Sometimes absenting/removing yourself from the toxic environment is the win. If that isn’t possible and individuals aren’t prepared to meet you half way or compromise (and most parents don’t seem to think the word compromise applies to them at all) you are stuck with having to put up with it until you can move away. From experience a child trying to change an older parent or relation’s mind is near impossible, and I know not to waste my energy, but hey, maybe others can speak of more success there..

    sulz: ahh, those kind of battles… those kind are nonexistent in this family with a certain parent! it’s the parent’s way or highway, even if proven wrong.

  6. “it’s just much easier not to tell them every detail in self’s life”. Works for me. Hard to learn to do, but necessary. I’ve found this is the most wonderful way to avoid rows…

    sulz: on the contrary! it’s very simple: be as vague as possible, and when probed further, just grunt or mumble as if terribly occupied (or bored), and if interrogated, just spew forth the entire story at the speed of light that parents just cannot comprehend anything. eventually they’ll learn not to ask so much!

  7. @the eternal wanderer..if you are 24 you can move out if you wanted to. But, if being ostracised from the family is an effective threat it means (at least from what you wrote) that you are willing to put up with whatever your family chooses to do and say to you – and they know it. I hope you are expecting them to press their advantage…

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