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Saturday night, I cried.
I walked out onto a balcony and called Dan and cried deep, body-shaking sobs.
It takes a lot to reduce me to tears, and the fact that I am all but invisible to my family to whom I am related by blood did just that. It was incredibly hard to be around my family this weekend. It was incredibly difficult to watch other brothers and sisters interact with each other, act as though they actually like each other, talk to each other and whisper and laugh.
For me, it isn’t love, it’s duty. A duty to help my parents, a duty to help my brothers and sister, a duty to include them in my life. No matter how much I help them, it’s almost never reciprocated. I don’t know any other way to be, and that’s why I can’t seem to bring myself to walk away from them. I know that they way that we interact isn’t healthy, that if it were anyone else, I would tell them their family is toxic and to distance themselves. Of course, when it comes to taking my own advice, I’ve never been very good at it.
I don’t think that’s what family is supposed to be - duty over love. It’s an archaic concept, but one I can’t seem to shake. I’m stuck in a bear-trap of a family, and the only way for me to fully live a healthy, happy life is to cut off the limb before the gangrene infects the rest of me. Harsh, I know, but even in the best moments between us, there’s an underlying twinge of tension that never quite seems to go away. That’s where the backhanded compliments, the outright insults, the ‘sorry but I won’t come get you from the airport even though you do it for me’, the fervent pleas to borrow money even though the disaster is self-inflicted are borne; they come from this tension that we can’t seem to erase. The happy, fun memories have always seemed forced.
I know what a happy life looks like. It’s communication, and laughter, and support, and fights with apologies shortly thereafter, and reciprocation and love, even in the worst moments.
It’s an unsettling realization to suddenly understand that your family will never be like that.
This is the kind of thing that I’ve feared. I’ve always known in the back of my head that a situation like this would arise. A situation where something tragic happens in my family and I won’t be able to be there for them. It’s the price of living so far away, I suppose. But I never expected for this to be the circumstance that hammers it all home.
There are just so few of us remaining. My mom’s parents are dead (have been for almost 40 years. Died in a car accident.), my mom’s older brother is dead (has been for 43 years. Died in a motorcycle accident). And so, that leaves the few of us - my mother, her brother, her sister, their spouses, and the seven of us cousins. So few of us, so far away from each other.
In a way, it has made us really appreciate the time that we DO get to spend together. Usually 2 to 3 weeks at a time, but only a handful of times during my life. Will this bring us closer together? Or will it push us further apart?
Anna has always (well, for the 22 years of her life) been sort of the glue. Her personality, bubbly and bright, rubbed off on everyone and it was simply impossible to have a bad time when she was around. And now… Well, we’ll continue hoping for that miracle, but it seems to quickly be moving out of reach.
I'm curious, with boys inevitably you end up having the big Sex discussion earlier than you planned. Do you have any ideas on how you will handle it?
Why do you have the talk earlier with boys?
Experts say American parents tend to wait too long to have the sex talk as well as the drug talk. I think the problem is we think it has to be “a talk” rather than an ongoing discussion.
If my boys ask a question about a sex-related issue, we have a conversation about it. Thanks to our discussions, my boys already know about:
- male and female private parts
- how babies are made (the biological part, anyway)
- heterosexuality and homosexuality and that both are perfectly fine
- that Boba Fett isn’t really a bad guy per se, but rather made a few bad decisions