Michelle was raised thinking blood family always came first and with privileges that usually crossed personal boundaries and embodied abuse.
What is a family?
When you're a child, you learn that family includes your parents and your siblings then as you grow older you realize that your family also includes cousins, aunts, and uncles. You're taught that family is who you spend a lot of time with. You spend the holidays with family and even have yearly family reunions. This is your blood family and these people are important. They come first. They have your back. They teach and guide you. They love you.
Or that's the way it's "supposed" to be but sometimes, your blood family is not your family at all and you're left convinced that you don't have a family. You are alone to face this world without a "home".
A real family does not abuse you
Growing up, my parents were very strict and spanking was normal. But mine pushed the boundaries between discipline and child abuse. They would tell me they love me and then would hit me with their hands, plastic spoons, and sometimes even leather belts. Other times, we were put on our knees until they were red, nose against the wall for hours without moving and if we moved, we'd be there longer. My parents were the kind of people who liked having control and controlling us was no different. We had to obey them. We feared our dad. We couldn't speak up about our thoughts or feelings at all. We were forced to scrub walls on cleaning days for hours and couldn't complain. I was made of fun every day by my dad who had nicknamed me "the fatty" in French. There was no emotional connection. No real conversations. No apologies.
Fast forward a few years, I got back with my boyfriend after a 4 month break up and my dad lost his shit. He didn't like the boy and he did everything he could to keep us apart. I was 17 years old. He would yell at me from the kitchen window to go to work since we lived right behind my workplace though I hadn't even started yet. He would give me extra chores to keep me inside. He would guilt-trip me about not being there for my mom. It got so bad that I moved out soon after I turned 18 because I knew his controlling ways would interfere with my going to college. We didn't speak for two years.
Fast forward a few more years, my brother is walking into my home without a text or a knock. When I ask for his respect and set up boundaries, he mocks them and expects privilege because he's family. I told him the kids I was babysitting were still sleeping and he says they should be up by now. By then, I'm insulted and ask him to leave, He calls me names in front of my kids. I keep asking him to leave, now my mom has joined us and as she shares his perspective on the matter continues to also call me names. I get so fed up, approach him and shove him out of anger telling him to leave. Within seconds he's dragging me by the collar from my kitchen window to the wall beside the stove, holding me up against the wall, ordering me to tell him that I will never shove him again and not letting go of me until I do. Then he leaves.
My extended family never kept in contact with me. I have no relationship with anyone yet some of them felt like they had a right to judge me about the fact that my daughters' didn't have their dad around making me a single mom.
This is not family. These are people. Abusive people at that.
Where is my blood family today
Nowadays, I barely see my dad. He comes around mostly for my girls and still makes sure to tell me that I should have the house cleaned spic and span before he shows up and makes sure to check when he visits as if my cleaning efforts define his own worth.
I don't interact with my brother unless he's picking up my girls. The last time I brought up a possible apology he made sure to demand one from me. He provoked me. I stood up for myself when he disrespected me. Now he talks to me like nothing happened. Like I should be over it by now. Like it wasn't physical abuse.
I haven't spoken to or had a relationship with my mom in about four years. She also never apologized for her part. For insulting me and disrespecting me. For feeling so superior that she could sit in my home and make me feel small. On my birthday, she wished me a happy birthday, said she loved me as I am still her daughter and that she forgives me. I am confused. I'm not the one who inflicted pain on her. I'm not the one who ignored her boundaries.
For a long time, they all treated me like I meant nothing. Like how I felt or what I said didn't matter. They made me believe that because they were family they could walk all over me and I had to allow. They're my family, they have special privileges. They don't have to respect boundaries. I am obligated to lease them however they want. I need to silence myself though I disagree with them. My happiness came second. Not today. Not anymore.
You're not family-less
When you lose your family or cut your family members out of your life, it can make you feel alone. It can make you feel like you don't have a family. It can make you yearn for the family you lost despite the abuse. It can make you disregard the pain they put you through just so you can have your family back. The thing is, you HAVE a family.
Look around you. Who are the people that your share a deep bond with and love? Who supports you consistently and pushes you to be your best self? Who encourages you to be yourself and to express yourself freely? Who is there when you need to cry and who advises you when you need some wisdom? You might be thinking, sure I have people like that, but they're friends, best friends, co-workers, pets, neighbors, etc. Those people are your family! Those are the people that you can trust and lean on when you need them. Those are the ride or dies whether you share the same blood or not.
Blood or soul family?
© 2021 Michelle Brady