One of the problems with a society that gives lip service to family is that it will often be resistent to any negativinty surrounding faaaaamily. Any time you need to defend something that heavily, it means that fundamental thing is broken.
An example that I ofen use. When I was twenty, I realized that I did not want kids. And, more to the point, that I did not have to have them! It was the best realization of my life (at some point, I will do a comprehensive post about how the best realizations of my life were negative ones–meaning, that I realized I was NOT something or did NOT want something, rather than positive ones), and I felt a lightness that I had not felt beforehand.
And, at the time, I naively thought that it was a one-and-done decision. I wasn’t going to have kids. Boom! That’s it. I was a sweet, summer child, but in my defense, I was raised by wolves. I did not know much about societal expectations because my parents did not have any interest in being a part of American society so did not impart any of those norms to me. Yes, in my ancestral culture (Taiwanese), there is the expectation that a female-shaped person will have kids, but I didn’t think it was as strong in American culture.
Like I said, I was a sweet summer child. So yioung. So naive.
Women started asking me about it when I was mid-twenties. I will note it was only women. Men just wanted to get in my pants and probably didn’t care want me to get pregnant from it. But women would ask, and I would honestly answer. I never brought it up myself, but it was a common topic of conversation. I want to emphasize that I never, ever, got into a rant about my thoughts of having children. I simply said that I didn’t have them/wasn’t going to have them. They would press and ask why. I wouuld say that I did not want them.
That was it. I never elaborated more than that. And you would think that would be the end of that, but it never was. For some reason, the women felt the need/urge/compulsion to arguue with me. And the one that got to me the most were the women who were angry at me because “You must think I’m a loser to have children/want them.” Uh, no? I don’t think about you and your progeny at all? It literally is not on my mind–at all. I don’t care if someone else has children or not.
This was so confusing. Why were they angry at me for making a decision (that they dragged out of me) that had no effect on them at all? It took me a decade or so to truly grasp what was going on. It’s beacuse they were invested in the status quo and societal norms. Or that they had never questioned them all their lives. They grew up assuming they would get married and have children, and that would be that. Then, they were vaguely dissatisfied with their lives (or not so vaguely) and could not figure out why.
I walzed along and blithely say that I’m not having children. I wasn’t questioning the status quo; I was just blowing past it. I didn’t care about having children. I didn’t care if other people wanted them or not. I didn’t understand agonizing over not having them or falling over yourself (as a woman. Let’s face it. Most dudes were not pushed to defend their decision to this degree to not have children. By other men, at least) to apologize for not having them. I didn’t want them, wasn’t having them, and it was glorious! It made me feel so good, I wanted to hire a skywrite plane and have it emblazoned in the clouds.
This is the same with family in general. Our society mindlessly proclaims that we’re about family and that we support family. Putting aside the fact that this is blatantly a lie (look at how we treat parents, (especially mothers) in many work environments)), another negative is that anyone who doesn’t fit into that paradigm is shunned or made to feel as if they are the one who is wrong.
Anyone who is low or no-contact with members of their family do not need to be told that family is important and that they should reconsider. My therapist once told me that even abused children will cling to their parents because the parental-child bond is so strong. So if someone is talking about going low to no-contact or has done it, they are well past that point. In other words, all the ‘but faaaamily’ bullshit is hurtful, not applicable, and more to thep point, something they had already thought about (probably a lot) and rejected.
It’s like living with a chronic illness. That person is the expect and doesn’t need to hear, “Have you tried kale and yoga?” Don’t do that. Don’t be that person. Look. When it comes to family, if you don’t have an abusive family situation, you can’t really know what is going on. You will undderestimate the situation and maybe think, “It can’t be that bad.” If that’s you, keep that thought to youreslf. I’m not going to chatise you for thinking in, but I would absolutely go ham on you for saying it. At least in my mind.
And you would become not a safe person to talk to. If you downplay my experiences or say it’s not that bad or sympathize with my parents, you are persona non grata to me. You do not know my situation better than I do, and I get enough of ‘but faaaamaily’. I don’t expect people to understand or to relate to what I went through. I never do. But I do expect people not to counter my experience or downplay the abuse I went through. I don’t want to hear how my parents had it hard–I had it harder being their child.
That’s the baseline for a friend of mine–you have to accept that I am the expert on my own life. You don’t know more about what I went through than I do. I have the scars, invisible though they may be to you. I’m doing the best I can, but it’s a struggle. I went through death–twice!–and that was nothing compared to family dysfunction.
By the way, the video I included had me weeping in seconds. By the end, I was openly sobbing. Seeing the ravage of time on Elton, his genctle voice and even gentler piano playing, plus the incandescent beauty of Rina’s voice. This is everything I didn’t even know I needed . I have the tendency to listen to songs on repeat, and this is one that will be permanently in my rotation.