04 August 2011

Ohana Means Family. Family Means...

So, I'm not one to "air dirty laundry" in a public forum, but, a family member of mine said something on her Facebook yesterday that really set me off. It was so sad and disappointing that I had to say something. I did. On Facebook. But, there's more to say about it and I think it's something that more people may need to hear. So you get a blog entry. 

Today, I'd like to talk about family. I often talk about my "family of choice"...that's my tribe. My group of friends. My Ohana. Not so, today. Today we're talking about that genetic cesspool we call "relatives". 

Meet me after the jump. 

Yesterday, my younger cousin posted the following on her Wall:

"I've come to learn that just because someone is related to you or considered family doesn't mean they love you or necessarily care about you. You can't choose what family your born into but you can choose who deserves to be in your life. If people want to waste there presious life talking about me and trying to bring me down I suppose that is there choice but I wont waste mine worrying about you any longer:)"

For the time being let's look past the horrific spelling and grammar and concentrate on the meaning of her post. Essentially she's saying that just because we're related, we don't have to love one another. We didn't choose each other, so we can choose to ignore each other. (For the record, this post of hers isn't about me.) 

Look, my family has never exactly been a Rockwell painting. Thanksgiving and Christmas at Grandma's was more like a trip to Dysfunction Junction. At best it's a three-ring circus with an adjacent freak show. We've got several variations on mental illness, drug addiction, favoritism, religious differences, battle scars, loud mouths,  awkward teenagers, high school drop-outs and people who insist that the first president was George "Warshington". It's not always pretty. It's not always fun. Sometimes it's downright embarrassing.

I'm sure you can relate. 

So, I know where my cousin is coming from. We share part of the same root-system. But I cannot agree with her. The comment she made is so...blind. It breaks my heart to see it, really. See, to me, family is the most important thing there is. Family of blood and of choice. Family is connection. As I told my cousin yesterday, Family is a safe place to fall, to be angry, to be happy. The whole point of family is that they see you at your best, your worst (and vice versa), that you didn't choose one another, but you love each other anyway

I get the need to walk away sometimes. I get that if someone is just poking at you and all you can feel about or around someone is negative you need to walk away. Get out of a toxic situation, re-evaluate when you've had a chance to get it out of your system and come back later to see what can be done. 

But burning the bridges behind you? Saying you don't need your family? That just because you're related doesn't mean you have to love one another? Pardon me for saying it this way, but fuck that. 

Sweetie, your family may not say things you like to hear, but they love you anyway. They care about you. If they didn't, they wouldn't fucking bother. They'd just let you run off and do what/whomever and screw up your life while they point and laugh. Oh, and something else...if you didn't care, it wouldn't piss you off. If you didn't love them, you wouldn't give a shit what they think and it wouldn't get under your skin. 

You've got family members who've gone through a lot of shit with their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. People who have been used, lied to, stolen from and abused by their family...and they still love them. Your own Grandfather says his wife gave him "scars he'll take to the grave", but you saw how devoted he was to taking care of her for the 10 years leading up to her eventual death. Why? Because that's what 
family does. 

So walk away for a bit and clear your head if you want. But do not EVER fling about bullshit like that comment you made unless you are prepared to back it up. Unless you mean it down to your toes. It's not a game, and cute little emoticons don't change that what you said was childish and heartbreaking. 
Your family loves you. Because you are family. 

Deal with it.  


Ang said...

I get the idea of essentially cutting one toxic person out of your life. My sister has done that. But she didn't turn her back on her entire family, and although the whole family continues to try to tell her that she should make amends with my mother... she knows better than to put herself into that situation. And that's fine. I know someone else who HAS turned her back on her entire blood family (with one exception) and y'know something? That person is incredibly unhealthy mentally, just like the rest of that blood family, and has almost no support system because she alienates everyone out of habit.

Anyhow, whatever I was trying to say (Eff you, Mercury) got lost in the sauce there but I'm proud of you for taking a stand FOR family since so many knock it down. I'm glad to consider you part of my Ohana. You have changed my life for the better.

Jamie Wyman said...

I totally get that. And I've done it before where I've had to cut someone out because they are a toxic presence. Sometimes, it's necessary. But to make a blanket statement like that? To treat the whole of your family so flippantly? Not cool. Besides, we lost our grandmother a few years ago and when that happened, people had lost years of valuable time to holding grudges. It's not worth it.

And thank you. I'm glad you're Ohana, Ang. :)

Theresa said...

You definitely have a way with words. I agree that your cousin is selfish and bull headed. Though the one person she hurt the most is Aunt Debbie. She has taken Cathy's family under her wing and has treated her kids like they were her own. Your family will always be there for you when others even husbands turn their backs on you. My vote's for family every time.

Jamie Wyman said...

Wait... a Wyman... bullheaded? The hell you say! :) None of us can throw stones for that particular trait.

Christina Lee said...

This is why there are erase buttons--b/c you will regret stuff you've said out loud one day.

I understand both sides but it shouldn't be aired in public. *sigh* and *hugs*

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