What is a family? How does a family come to be a family? Who is responsible for keeping the family together?
To me, the point of family is to nurture, protect and support people and in exchange these people accept certain common ‘burdens’ such as doing tasks and looking out for each other even if it means not putting yourself first always.
My birth family (cousins, aunts and uncles)are normal people. They seem to get along well. They don’t particularly dislike me but I am not particularly welcome either. They can take or leave me, like an extra potato chip left in a bowl.
As I was neither born nor raised in the same country as my cousins, it seems I was expected to take the steps to reassure them that I am grateful for their ‘support’ and acknowledgement of my existence. It has always been like walking in the dark, never knowing if I was going to get it right or not. Unconditional love was not a given. Furthermore, there are many unwritten rules that everybody seems to know, agreed upon stories that, if questioned, relegate you to outsider status. This has taken me years to comprehend and I still don’t quite grasp it entirely.
I suspected early on that I was an intruder of sorts and that I couldn’t rely on my family except for emergencies, that I would not be welcome to just stop by for coffee and a chat. I tried and the outcome left me numb and out of sorts.
It is unsettling to be made to feel out of place in the one place where you should be accepted just because you are YOU.
Whether for this reason or not, I seem to be incapable of creating a sense of family. By this I mean inspiring those closest to me to be close to each other and to me. It seems I am good at fostering independent individuals but not a group identity. This would be less important if I had a group of my own, a tribe of sorts, made up of friends and neighbours. But again, I seem to not know how to do it. I have few friends and more often than not they are far away and we do not communicate frequently. While I treasure these friendships which have survived decades and distance, it appears that the universe conspires to leave me without a support system nearby.
I have this theory that I must have belonged to a big family in another life, a rather nondescript child, neither the youngest nor the oldest; nor the most beautiful or the most hideous.
I have always been adrift on the sea of life, understanding deep inside that I was perhaps the odd one out for a reason, unrelated to the ones I should be, unaccepted, unmoored from the safety of the family dock.
This also reflects on my friendships. I wouldn’t call myself shy, although I am an introvert. I am comfortable in my own company and find small talk only acceptable in equally small doses. I have never had more than one or two friends at a time, in spite of hanging out with larger groups at certain moments of my life.
Is it just me? I often feel like a balloon floating in the sky, something that people point to but doesn’t really matter.
Can anyone relate to this in any way?