All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
I am writing out of pure emotion right now. I may have reason to regret the public airing of my own state, so I won’t mention names. Nor will I draw attention to specific details. I just don’t want to feel this anger anymore.
It is not acceptable to say, “I don’t care” or “Fuck them.” But I am pissed. So pissed. Angry over how family history is repeating itself. Furious that the middle generation of cousins and siblings have let a situation escalate to a crisis point. Now we have factions. Now we have “sides.”
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. As children, we saw what happened when pride and spite created a divide large enough we didn’t see each other for years.
Bearing a grudge is such low hanging fruit to me. But amazing how it nourished some of our kin with its attractive pettiness. We gained nothing from this period. We only lost something that could have been so wonderful. Was it a misunderstanding? Was it jealousy? I just remember hearing the anger pour forth from people that we loved and supposedly loved us back. I was under our dining room table, scared and surprised over what was happening. A door slammed that day, one that didn’t open again until I was in high school.
Now, I realize the long term effects of that horrible day. Not only did we gain the knowledge on how to stir the pot, we learned how to scorch the entire set. And I worry there is no repair this time. That pride and spite have returned in worse forms. Even more, I can’t help but think that the increasing visibility of our anger is paving the way for the grandchildren to take up the cause.
“Family quarrels are bitter things. They don’t go according to any rules. They’re not like aches or wounds, they’re more like splits in the skin that won’t heal because there’s not enough material.”
Do we even know what “the fight” is about anymore? If we have a conflict without context, then who really “wins?” We are aware multiple perspectives and truths are required to create a complete narrative. I know a lot of information is missing here. I have so many questions, yet I know I may never get the answers in return. How can one person’s rage be held so long? Why would anyone desire to create misery? To assuage their own guilt? To remedy what they feel has been denied them?
If all of this adds up to them saying, “Fuck you! I want nothing to do with you anymore,” then say so. I would respect that. At least it is a declarative sentence. It is the resolution of this ridiculous conflict and we can all move on with our lives. But as long as it remains a game of chess, of moves and countermoves driven by smugness then the silences, it will only add further layers of confusion and emotion. Or, as in my case, a chance to remedy it by finally speaking up.
People know I can’t leave things alone. I need a resolution. I firmly believe in the innate good that exists in us all, especially within a family. If we let any one member walk away without a fight, we stand to lose so much, especially when we are dealing with only wounded pride. That’s what fuels this entire conflict. Hurt feelings and what appears to be misplaced blame. Guess what? We are ALL to blame here.
What is saddening me even more is how this toxic cloud of shit has spread into other areas of the family.
No family member should ever wield enough power to become a horseman of the apocalypse against their own sibling. No one parent should allow their children to hurl brutal recriminations for sport. It’s like a deep rooted scab that’s been pulled because there was nothing else to do that day. Is it possible that we confuse ripping each other apart as being a sign that we truly do care about each other?
I realize that families aren’t perfect. I’ve joked that I like stories that put the “fun” in “dysfunction.” And maybe, there is an element of my own frustrated writer at play here, though some think I am overreacting. I know I’m the last one to even give a shit. And phrases like mosquita muerta or la cara de yo no fue are not funny to me anymore.
What motivated this rant is knowing we are losing one of our most treasured family members to cancer. Fucking cancer! That’s real life and death at its purest and most enraging. How can we allow for any family wars when we are already faced with a casualty? And believe me, there will be consequences to this loss. And there isn’t time to get in those last power plays to make a point, either.
Since I first started to read, no other narrative has resonated with me more than that of the family. From novels to novelas, you can be cradled and nurtured in its bosom or you can wither under its fire-breathing rage. It should be so harmonious, this grouping of genetics. Most of us are brought into this world to represent a legacy of good. It is not just the end result of procreation. It is the want to leave something better behind, to make up for whatever didn’t go right when our parents were young.
Maybe I’m still a child in wanting things to better, naive to think that any of this sound and fury will go heeded. Is it a written tantrum? Perhaps. But there is so much air to clear now. No one has bothered to sit down and try to reconcile, negotiate a truce, remedy the hurt. No one.
I didn’t grow up with grandparents. But I grew up with a history, one that embraces two cultures. Ours is a narrative that understands loss and hardship, like so many other families through the ages. Our hurt is not the first to be felt, nor will it be the last. But I have always taken solace that I am part of something so powerful and ageless. Dammit, I know we weren’t put on this Earth to destroy! So many of us have opted for lives where we can create, whether by having children or simply maintaining a blog as a record of who we were in this life.
Now, life is claiming those we love and need so much of late. Once all the members of the group give up, can anything ever go back to “normal?” I don’t want “normal,” that wouldn’t be “us.” I just want to know we will endure, that we will emerge united and stronger than ever. That we broke this horrible cycle once and for all.
I don’t give a shit if the world implodes on itself. I only care that we will stand together, as a family, when it does.
“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”
Tuesday, September 23. Written and posted from Wayne Avenue Manor in South Pasadena. CA