I know, I know. It has been MONTHS….After my New Years article, I decided to take a little hiatus. I felt I needed some time to think about the blog’s current direction for 2021. Whilst doing this, writer’s block kicked in and then I became busy and then excuses, excuses.
This summer, I had a plethora of life-changing experiences, which have lead me to start writing again! Upon reflection, I realized that a common theme among these experiences was family. Call it a bad decision or not, I decided to take a little vacation to the US, so I could visit la familia and get a break from Jamaica. I had wanted to visit last year, but, y’know–COVID. And boy, did I bargain for more than just a visit for this trip.
One of the reasons I embarked on this trip, was to get away from my parents, because to be frank, I was tired of them. And I know that they were tired of me (and my sister, because she came with me as well) too. My family is a bit dysfunctional…but whose isn’t, right? Because of this, for the past two years I’ve been trying to move hundreds and thousands of miles away from my home, because I, just needed a break.
Toxic Family Members & Relatives
While Britney Spears found her love’s toxicity breathtaking, we find that one family member’s expression of “love” downright suffocating. We all have that sibling, parent or relative that we’d rather not know. In some cases, they’re a tumor that you’d wish Dr. Life would just cut right out! I have seen so many tweets where Gen-Z (and even Millennials) openly show disdain for toxic family members and denounce the popular and sometimes violent phrases “blood is thicker than water” and “they’re still family.”
For those of us with abusive, deadbeat, absentee, etc., parents and relatives–yes, they’re still our family…but does that unfasten the pain that they’ve administered? Did the blood relation automatically abolish the sins they did unto us? Does the trauma just automatically become a retiree like your paycheck does at the end of the month?? I’d genuinely like to know.
While these expressions are generally employed by everyone, they can be commonly found within the lexicons of older folks. I suppose during the times of our grandparents (and parents for those of us aged 20-30), where struggle was rife, the family unit was everything. After all, the institution of family is one of the building blocks of any society. For what is society, but a conglomerate of numerous families? It is a social group that has traditionally been bounded by blood and by extension, marriage. Therefore, no matter what happened, that blood-bond was virtually inseparable. Usually, families support each other; they care for one another; they go out on a limb for one another; and in extreme cases, they sometimes even die for one another.
So, I think I understand why these older folks coined such phrases. The unit is everything. Nevertheless, as mentioned earlier, does this bond mean that family can mistreat, traumatize and abuse one another and be absolved from the consequences? You see, this line of thinking will have many people submitting to their worst relatives just because of this blood-bond. Now, don’t get me wrong! I don’t think that these broken relationships can’t be repaired. I do believe that if we can have those awkward and painful conversations, where we inspect the wrongs, understand and apologize to one another, that we can helm towards a healthier relationship.
However, should we?
Should They Stay? Or Should They Go?
Now, I know that I basically just said that we can “take the high road” or “be the bigger person.” But just like an intense argument between friends, should you mend that relationship, even if you can? I mean, sometimes the familial trauma is so deep that you just don’t want to give it a try…I, for one, feel that way towards my father. 🤷🏽♂️ Even though I’m the psych major with the necessary skillsets to initiate the healing process. 😅
Because what about those relatives who just can’t be helped? Y’know, like that aunt who just keeps being a b!tch no matter what you do; no matter how many family meetings and sit-downs–she just can’t be helped, because you and her just see things differently. Well, in that case, I say cut har rass! [drop her ass!]. You see, there’s some people in life who you will never agree with. Why? Because that is one of the beautifully painful complexities of life. Everyone’s brain operates and thinks differently. Yes, we may all share similarities in how we think, but some of us just process things differently, and that’s ok! It is up to us to know when this person is in our lives, and to drop them for our peace of mind.
Now, I am not saying that families should/will be filled with ‘yes men/women.’ New information can always be born from disagreements, for both parties. However, one must acknowledge when they are essentially talking to a brick wall with an individual, so they can cut their losses and move on. And while some family members who fall in this category can be distanced for safe-keeping, some of them can’t! You just have to straight up cut them out of your lives, point blank.
Which brings me to my final point…
Friends Are The Family That We Decide
Five years ago, I learnt this saying from a dear friend of mine, who’s been through more rough patches in his life, than I’d like to count. He told me that family isn’t always what you want it to be, and thus, that’s where your friends come in. You know those movies and tv shows based in places like New York City, where there’s a group of friends that live together and they’re all pursuing their dreams, and they support each other day-in and day-out? Yeah. That’s a family. Now, that family isn’t bound by blood; instead, they are bound by their love and care for one another. This shared affection rivals that of familial love. For it is the expansion of “brother from another mother” and “sister from another mister.”
During my soon to be 23 years of life, I have met a handful of people who I am more than happy to call my extended family. These are people who I can call upon should/when my own flesh and blood fail me. And for this, I am blessed. Upon writing this post, I unearthed the full version of the “blood is thicker than water” quote; it reads: the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.
Thus, proving my point even further.
During this trip, my sisters and I had some impactful emotional moments, where we spoke about our traumas and pains, shed some tears and looked towards a better future not just for each of us, but as a family in general. Some relatives don’t give that many sh!ts about you as you’d like them to, and that is okay. Understand your role within the unit, accept it, and supplement that support elsewhere. Protect your mental (and physical if need be) health at any cost! Therapy isn’t cheap!! 😂
Anyways, that’s it for now. Taf Speaks is back! I can’t wait to crank out more posts where we engage in more discussions. I’ll be resuming my twice a month schedule, starting with September.
As usual: mask-up, get vaccinated and stay safe!