Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Family



I had dinner with a few friends recently, who I haven't seen in a while. I have to put that in context: we used to see each other every week, and this time we haven't seen each other in a month or so. I guess I simply missed them. They are my family in the city.

I've always found the notion of family interesting, in the sense that it seems to imply so many things: love, first of all; responsibility; affection. A mother, and a father. Perhaps a son or a daughter. And we hold it like a shield against any other idea; that is, we assume that a family is incapable of not being loving, or responsible, or caring, or that it necessarily requires a mother and a father, along with some of the more superficial trappings we associate with the idea. So we are always surprised or angry when a family isn't like that. You are supposed to be like this, you say, because a family simply is like this. As if families are always created in the same cloth, and in the same pattern. As if families cannot be as different or multi-dimensional as the human beings that comprise them.

But what about makeshift families? The type that you create when the ones you were born into are far away, or are too busy, or simply do not care. The standards aren't the same of course; we cannot assume anything, they aren't real family in the first place. But what is a real family anyway?

For those of us who are naturally inclined to be something else, and pressured by the current social context to be nothing less than similar, we are chained, and we rebel because we have no choice. Some rebel quietly, secretly, afraid of the consequences of their rebellion. Some do it openly and proudly, one big giant finger to the rest of the world. And then there are those who simply live, and hope that they may be left alone in peace at least.

We are different (not in the fundamental things I hope, at least in our capacity to love), because of the choices we make. We assume families have to be something our minds conjured, and what is real have a tendency to fall short of what we imagine. I believe it is the same with everything else. We assume an ideal, always, so, in the same way, we are always surprised or disappointed when the object that symbolizes the ideal proves itself to be something else.

Growing up different from everyone else, I've always thought that I needed to fit myself into the mold everyone expected of me. I was taller than most; therefore I had to play basketball. I was male; therefore, I had to be sexually attracted to girls. I was baptized a Catholic; therefore, I had to believe in a rigid set of rules or else I'll go to hell. The chains chafed, and my initial confusion at the barrage of expectations metamorphosed into resentment, some depression, a sense of having to always prove something to the world, and anger. What the expectations did was to complicate me as a person who might have led a simpler life if the expectations weren't there in the first place.

(I'm only guessing of course; who knows what problems I'd actually encounter if I never had to face those expectations from the start.)

So, going back to the concept of family, I don't know why we put so much pressure on ourselves, and on each other, to fit into this mold that we created in our heads. Which isn't to say that a family shouldn't be loving, or caring, or responsible; but I'm saying that maybe if we open our minds a little bit, we can at least imagine that maybe all a family needs to be considered a real one is to be loving, and caring, and responsible. Nothing else. Why do we put so much importance on the superficial trappings anyway?


Photo taken here.

37 comments:

  1. I seem to suffer from the proverbial Ugly Duckling syndrome, always looking-looking-looking for my real family when there they are, in my rear-view mirror!

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  2. My family is not typical. We adopt people. Not legally mind you. We find some lost waif or not so lost waif and bring them into our family. Once you are in you are in. No one will treat you any differently then any other family member. You will need to pull your weight at gatherings. I wish you could see the melting pot reunions we have.
    People on the outside are very confused by my "family".
    My poor friend Sazy had no idea what she was in for when we decided to finally meet a few years ago.
    Do I long for the mom, dad, brother type of family? I did when I was younger...now.. I wouldn't have my family any other way.

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  3. Glad I'm not the only one who feels the pressures of the views of family. So many expectations =/

    http://theadorkableditzmissteps.blogspot.com/

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  4. I think that people expect too much out of others...not just family, but friends also. And when were let down its oh-so shocking. I agree completely with you though. Why do we have so many expectations? Why can't we just...accept? We really do live in one messed up world...sigh. Beautiful post as always =)

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  5. So true! Being a military spouse the term "home is where you lay your hat" is very real for us. We're never where our immediate families are.

    But I can tell you this, we create families where ever we go.

    CBG
    canadianbloggergirl.blogspot.com
    ps.
    Want something Canadian? Check out my contest. http://canadianbloggergirl.blogspot.com/2010/10/celebration.html

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  6. not all families are as loving and as caring as others...but i dont think i will ever survive without my family...

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  7. The concept of 'loving' family is too over-rated. I mean I have a great family, and we all are close knit and all, but consider this, I am a medical student, My Parents are both doctors and My brother is an aspiring engineer so in a day we hardly are in the same room....!! We are loving indeed, but not that we are tooooo attached...:)

    Maybe that has something to do with the fact that my entire childhood has passed with both my mum and dad out of house for more than 16 hours...

    The concept of family is seriously too subjective...

    I liked your article as usual...keep up man..:)

    -Se2

    www.obliviousconclusions.co.cc

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  8. my family is totally screwed up and weird but that's what makes us who we are. one of my favorite saying is "Friends are God's way of apologizing for family"

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  9. I had a lot of expectations formed in my childhood that were just not realistic in the world of adults. Screwed up my life and relationships quite a bit, until I learned to let go of them. It is amazing how changing an expectation can improve a situation almost immediately. Your posts are always of quality . Enjoy reading them.

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  10. I'd always love to go home to my family everyday, even though I think its the regular/ordinary/normal family.

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  11. When we live in a society, I guess one is prone to family and other aspects. The family is always heterosexual, bound by marriage and is permanent. But today everything is changing. Heterosexuality is no longer the norm nor are concepts of marriage and permanence. But inspite of negating the concept of a family, everyone models relationships based on the idea of a family. So, that is the landing point you see. So I am beginning to wonder about the nuances of negating the idea of family, marriage and so on.

    Thoughts were provoked and I hope I have not rambled here.

    Joy always,
    Susan

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  12. my family is severely dysfunctional. what can you do though...

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  13. I am like Jill above. My family is a nightmare (or was a nightmare because most of us do not speak). The Munsters depicted above are normal compared to my family.
    Glad to meet you and to find your blog...looking for the follow button and I will be your newest follower when I find it!
    Cat Chat http://opcatchat.blogspot.com

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  14. I gave you an award...kind of
    check it out
    http://motherhoodmusicandbeer.blogspot.com/2010/10/i-win-i-win.html

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  15. good follow up post to yesterday's

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  16. Definintely understand the context of family. I have friends whom I consider family.

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  17. I watched a documentary on those mormon polygamist families. That's a sad thing :(

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  18. oh, family.. what would you do without them? :|

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  19. Hey! I wanted to stop by and say thanks for visiting my blog. i love yours and I really appreciate that there are others out there that have the same opinions and read and reach out to those in need. You're awesome, and I will be checking back often.

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  20. Great blog as usual, my family is traditional, yet completely off the mark as usual, and I would not have it any other way. I have a family who is very open and accepting. They understand that just because they believe in one thing doesn't mean everyone in their family will follow them.

    Read my blog @ amberlashell.com

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  21. Great post!

    looking forward to reading the next one

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  22. Very cute family portrait. I believe in the global family. What I find remarkable is that some people can treat the wider world with more respect than they give to their own family. We expect more from our family members. It is a real trick to know your sister/brothers limitations/beliefs and accept them as they are without trying to change them. However, I certainly do not see any need in sticking around for anyone's abuse, family or otherwise.

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  23. You don't know how happy it makes me to see someone questioning the societal paradigm of the "family" indeed you're wise and correct in pointing out such fallacies. By the way, Mr. Talented Fickle Cattle, you win the lovely blog award: http://pragmatismisawesome.blogspot.com

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  24. Rules are dictated by society. Sometimes this shitty reasons are just so annoying...

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  25. I think that I'm closer with my fiancee than my family at most things - you sort of drift apart if you don't maintain close ties, and lately, I've been doing a lot more with her than with them... Can't wait for training to be over and for us to be together full time, though..

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  26. somehow, I used to think what if my parent were different. would that change who I really am? now, I can't feel anything but gratitude for having such a family. Love 'em and love this post so much!

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  27. right on! ^_^
    each of us have different families we don't have to get envious of other people's families.. and yep i agree.. all we need in it is love, responsibility and affection : )
    and i believe that a family is not just the biological parents and siblings etc... people that are different with each other like biological parents, cultures, beliefs can become a family...

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  28. Family changes as we change. We have the family we're born into. We have the family that is created when we're living away at college. We have the family we create in our work environment. We have the family that is created when we find a partner. We have the family that is created from that partner's family. And now, with technology, people create online families.

    We seem to be made up of a variety of these "family" units where we can roam to when we need a certain emotional strength in our lives. One family might be good for healing the wounds of the day and another might be good for rejuvenating your soul.

    http://40isthenewme.blogspot.com/

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  29. I love your article! I usually don't read that much in one go but I really relate to your words.
    Thanks too for your commemt in my blog.

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  30. First of all, thanks so much for leaving a comment on my blog! Secondly, I wish I had your writer's block. :) I too feel that people (family and friends) have unfair expectations of me. My mother talks about her future grandchild all the time, and I wish she'd shut the hell up. She talks as if babies are no trouble at all, as if they're Cabbage Patch kids or something. I'm an only child, so I guess all of her hopes and dreams fall on me. She needs to realize however that the 2.5 perfect family dream is done...DONE. Anyway, I also want you to know that I'm adding your blog to my list of fav's because I think you're a very gifted, and insightful writer. Peace, Kandid. http://www.beensnookered.blogspot.com/

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  31. Nice blog. You seem to have a lot of profound thoughts and observations :)

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  32. my family can be annoying, i think they expect too much, or i am lazy

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  33. I have been away from parental, dysfunctional home from the time I was sixteen and that has helped me to handle the situation differently. My relationship with my late mother was always in grand shape and the dysfunction actually helped stronger bonding among me and my siblings. Individual cases need individual treatments and it is difficult to generalize in this particular matter.

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  34. For me family seems like a bunch of diverse people put in a bracket of common surrounding n upbringing..!!

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