Home > rayne > Family doesn’t make you any less “alone”.

Family doesn’t make you any less “alone”.

November 29th, 2010

Me in Collins Park at sunset, by M.

Disclaimer: I’m not calling my friend out in this post.  The conversation got me thinking, though, and I wanted to write about it, so here it is.  Yeah… It’s another really long one.  And it’s chock full of epiphanies.  I guess the holidays find me pensive.

I was talking with a friend, to whom I tell all my most intimate secrets, and I was absolutely convinced she knew M’s and my familial situations.  But as we began discussing our holiday plans, it became painfully obvious she had no clue.  When she asked why M and I are so cut off from our family, I explained the situation to her as best I could, between fighting Nagas, Wildkin, and Owlbeasts.  She still didn’t get it, and asked how I could stand to be so alone.  Naturally, my immediate response was “I’m not alone.  I have M!”, but I thought about it a lot afterward.  I mean, it’s a good question.  Why are we so cut off? And why doesn’t it seem to bother us?

When it comes to family, M and I are pretty close to being without, if one excludes my father, our pets, and close online friends, with whom we’d spend much of our time if we lived closer to them, or had the time and money to travel there.  All of our grandparents are dead, except my grandfather.  There seems to be a feud in M’s family which has caused pretty much everyone to shun His mother, and her children, regardless of the fact that the kids had nothing to do with it, and, at least in M’s case, have no idea what it’s about.  And my extended family is filled with nut jobs and narcissists who are convinced it’s everyone else’s job to keep the family bond alive, and they shouldn’t have to make any effort whatsoever. 

M’s mother is… Well… She’s been living with a cunt of a woman, choosing dealing with being treated like property (unconsensually) over moving in with any of her sons, or getting her own place.  It’s obvious it’s become a Stockholm Syndrome situation, and pretty much everyone’s given up.  I realize how that sounds, but we weren’t even able to get her to leave or press charges when the woman threw her down the stairs, and she had numerous places she could go, and tons of people ready, willing and able to help her.  And since none of us witnessed it, and everyone who lives there still swears she just fell, there’s nothing to be done.

Her newest excuse for shunning her family (including her other sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren) is my display of righteous anger when she emailed me asking for M’s phone number.  The fact that He’s had the same phone number since the day I met her, and I can count the times she’s called or emailed Him on one hand, or that He stopped talking to her because of her own actions, not mine, is completely lost on her.  She’s convinced M has no reason to be irritated with her, and I’m standing in the way of her relationship with Him.  As if I could if I wanted to.  And that’s pretty much par for the course for most of M’s family, regardless of what M says when asked.  They all think they’re super cool, and I’m the douche keeping them from having a good relationship with Him.  I guess the reality is too much for them to comprehend, or handle.

We don’t visit with His younger brother as often as we’d like because they’re pretty firm in the belief that family’s family, no matter what family does, so Mom’s almost always around, if they’re not (living) at her house.  I’ve never met His older brother, and I’m not sure anyone in the family knows where he is.  He was in the military, and hauled ass at the first opportunity.  I have a bit of regret surrounding that, because M often talks about His older brother with awe and respect.  We may have to do a bit of digging and see if we can’t find him.  I’d like to meet him, at least, even if there isn’t some happy, tear-filled reunion that leads to us having giant holiday gatherings.

My family… My family has been jaded, disjointed, and in a constant state of some sort of turmoil since practically the day I was born.  I have no idea what my adopted mother’s childhood was like, because she almost never talks about it, but her brothers got out of dodge as soon as possible.  Almost all of the men in my family did at least one tour in the the military, so until recently, we could have been found all over the world, not just the U.S.  And getting them together for anything, much less a massive (Think banquet hall rental complete with rented tents, tables and chairs for extra seating.) holiday gathering, is like pulling teeth.

Thing is, even if it wasn’t that way, just knowing my family like I do would be enough to make me not want to share my holidays with them.  Holiday celebrations should be happy, peaceful, warm and loving.  Holiday gatherings with my family, though, are usually filled with vicious backbiting behind dinner napkins, and family members separating into cliques to talk about family members in the other cliques behind their backs.  Cause it’s not enough that every single phone call is filled with gossip, and shame, and tons of tsking and head shaking.  We have to do it in plain sight at family get-togethers, too.

Of course, there are exceptions, as there always are.  My father (who, coincidentally, was the only person to call me this Thanksgiving) and I are in the process of rebuilding our relationship, and I have a few cousins I’d love to see if I knew how to get in touch with them.  What stops me is the knowledge that my mother is one of the biggest gossips in the family, so I’m sure they all have her version of who I am, and I honestly don’t know how many of them are the type to just believe what they hear because I haven’t seen most of them since we were children.

I guess in society’s view, the state of our family is sad, and unusual.  I’m told most families find ways to look past the faults and love one another regardless of the hardships.  But really, what it comes down to is a lot of our family, on both sides, wrote us off when we were children, still developing our personalities and moral compasses, and have refused to give our adult selves a chance.  In most cases, we’ve made an effort to prove that we’re not the same people, and any effort we’ve made has been met with resistance and/or utter disinterest.  And honestly? I’m not sure I’m interested in building relationships with people who haven’t the presence of mind to understand that people change as they grow.  Of course, I can’t even really discern which came first, or if it even matters.  And I’m occasionally tormented with the belief I tried to hold onto growing up, that you should always give family a second, or third, or hundred and eighty-seventh chance on the off chance that this time, they might get it right, or the really off chance that you’re wrong about the entire situation.  Because it’s totally possible that it’s all some ginormous misunderstanding.

With regard to friends, my naive attempt to find the good in people continually bites me in the ass, both in real life, and online.  I’m finding the more I insist on just being me, the more people use who that is to their advantage.  For a short time, my generous nature was contributing to our financial and relationship issues.  Either because I’d lend someone money, and not get it back before we needed it (or at all), or because I’d lend someone food or household items, thinking we wouldn’t need them, and then have little cash to make up for it when I realized we did.  And let’s not even discuss the “friends” who never have money.  Or their own car.  Or their own bottle.  Or their own food.  Or their own house.  Which wouldn’t be so much of an issue if they still came around when we sold our car, and stopped taking them out to eat and footing the party bill because we were broke.

We nipped that in the bud a year or so ago.  Because we’re barely making ends meet as it is, any lending requests are met with a polite, but firm no unless we’re really sure we’ll be okay without it.  We rarely hang out with anyone besides each other because a) a lot of our neighbors’ incomes are once a month, and around the first, and b) we don’t have a whole hell of a lot in common with the people around us, either at M’s job, or at home.  We play WoW while they play Call of Duty.  We watch Broadway plays while they watch the Giants.  We go to orchestras and rock concerts while they go to clubs and jazz bars.  And as much as it sucks, people need more in common than trying to stay alive in America to sustain anything more than neighborly relations.

And hey, that’s okay.  There’s nothing wrong with not befriending and spending every waking moment with everyone in your neighborhood.  And really, I don’t remember people in the suburbs doing that when I was growing up.  Most of the families in my parents’ neighborhoods had their own friends outside of the neighborhoods and rarely, if ever, had block parties or neighborhood cookouts.  Of course, all my neighborhoods growing up also had the added pleasure of being in military towns, so you never knew when someone was moving out, and building lasting friendships was next to impossible.

I guess part of the reason I’m not overly bothered by our lack of face-to-face friends is because I spent so much of my life not really trusting anyone to actually be a friend.  I always hung out with huge groups of people, and very rarely spent any one on one time with anyone.  These days, I want more than that.  And the more experience M and I have with trying to build and maintain friendships as adults, the less I care about going further than the people I’ve met online who have been better friends than most people I’ve known face-to-face, and who I will one day meet and get to spend time with.  Hopefully soon, and more often than not, now that M and I are steadily moving closer to financial stability.  Knock on wood.  Hard.

Besides that, on giant walls built of steel and stone over thirty-eight years of being taught to internalize who you are, rather than socialize with those around you, a sledgehammer probably won’t even leave a scratch.  And since M’s really only just realizing, through various methods of social trial and error, that there’s more to His antisocial behavior than just being more comfortable alone, I’m not sure a wrecker ball is the way to go either.  So instead, we’re tiptoeing around it by going to office social functions, and actually talking to people (if only the vendors, at this point) at the Winter Market, and stopping in the parking lot before going on our (very occasional, thanks to M’s job) walks to talk to the crowd there.

But on the whole, I don’t really feel alone.  And I’ll be honest, here, and admit that this is a recent discovery.

>Side note: Why do people say that? “I’ll be honest here.” Me, especially.  Unless I’m writing fiction, I’m pretty much always honest in my writing.  The one exception being my tendency to downplay M’s faults, but I think that’s only natural.  I am, after all, a slave, and it’s neither my place, nor my desire, to call Him out in public when avoidable.  A more accurate statement would be, “Let me tell you something you don’t know already.” or “Here’s what I’m holding back.” Anyway… As if this needed anymore unnecessary babbling.

I think M and I both occasionally make the mistake of being certain that we are in [insert bad situation here] alone.  We each have our reasons, and we try to recognize the stress [bad situation] causes the other, but sometimes we both see things from our own side, and can’t really see the other’s point of view.  One of the most heard phrases around here, before we fell into this contented bliss, was a variation of “[Bad situation] stresses me out, too!” We’re both making an effort to be more mindful of each other.  And these days, though it took M yanking my eyes open and mashing my face on the evidence, it’s more than obvious that I am not, by any means, alone.  We have each other.  And if all we ever have is each other, at least we have each other!

Maybe it’s because I’ve never had anyone who truly felt this way about me.  Maybe it’s because I’ve always spent my time in crowds, rather than forming one-on-one bonds.  Maybe it’s because I have a handful of absolutely amazing friends online, and I’d rather do what I can to get my finances on track, so I can travel to them, and spend time with them, than get to know the people around me and be disappointed again.  Maybe it’s because I’ve pretty much exhausted my options in our immediate area, and don’t have the time or money to try to make friends elsewhere.

Or maybe… Just maybe… It’s because silences are never empty or awkward between M and me.  Because we’re always comfortable in each other’s presence, no matter who else is around, and even when we’re arguing.  Because we talk about anything and everything, when ever and where ever we want, even if it’s in hushed whispers.  Because we like most of the same things, and are willing to try most new things, so it’s not a hassle trying to talk each other into doing things we’d like to do.  Because when either of us has a problem, the other is right there to help, no matter what it is, even if, for some reason, it’s by phone.  Because I never have to worry about Him walking out on me, or disappearing, or giving up.  That’s far more than I can say for most of my family.  And I don’t have that with very many friends, either, which is normal.  It’s where the concept of having a “best friend” came from.  It’s what should be the basis for marriage, in my opinion.

I guess we’re just not interested in wasting the time we have left in this life on people who aren’t going to put as much effort into it as we do.  I guess even I have reached my limit of bullshit.  And I don’t really see that as a bad thing, honestly.  I see it as growth.

<3
rayne

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  1. November 30th, 2010 at 01:37 | #1

    This was a really deep post. i find it interesting because i’m happiest with just Master. Most content. Best behaved. But i haven’t given up on this whole idea of being close to my family and i tend to become this obnoxious, anxious, stress-ridden brat-creature around them. (Or maybe that happens around everyone but Master. i don’t know.)
    i make an effort almost daily with my mother, and each conversation, she says something that makes me want to break something, or wring something, or scream that she doesn’t know all the answers, the universe and the divine are bigger than she is… She goes off about everything under the sun, from religion all the way around to how kink is evil and people who think that way are monsters (she has no idea about Master and i)…and i wonder why i try with her.
    With my dad and brother, it’s kind of effortless, just that quiet contentedness, no pressure to believe a certain thing, be a certain way. With everybody else, i’m on my guard. Not sure if i’ll be up to the task of verbal sparring so that things don’t wind up leading to manslaughter or some crazy-ass screaming match…
    i guess, in my own rambly sort of return, i’m saying: i get that. i don’t feel alone with Master, either. Still love parts of my family, but alone with Him is way better than being around the whole family and feeling alone. And the friends who swear you can count on them only to find they aren’t? Ugh.

  2. November 30th, 2010 at 09:53 | #2

    @jenpet I don’t think I’d truly given up on my relationship with my mother until a few days ago, when M said to me, “Rayne, I’ve been with you eight years. You’re not the same person you were even two years ago, much less when you were a kid, and you’ve tried every which way to fix and maintain a relationship with your family. Your mother’s just a cunt.” It got me thinking, and I guess I’ve just come to a point in my life where I’m done shouldering all the blame for failed family ties. I mean, I was a kid, for Christ’s sake.

    Crowds sort of freak me out, these days. I lose track of conversations, and say the wrong thing, and… I’ll take a cozy group of friends, and a couple bottles of wine, and some candlelight sconces over a night out on the town wading through crowds any day.

    Thanks for the reassurance that I’m not alone in this. 🙂

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