i’ve had to think a lot about family today. not that i wanted to. instead, i would have rather focused on the course i am creating on global feminist activism or the paper i’m writing on indo-caribbean feminism. i have such reduced office hours, now dependent on when someone can look after Zi, that when I have time to work, I want 100% of my mind to get the most done in as little time as possible. I was like that before, but i have less time to be like that now, so it’s much more intense.
but back to family. i’ve experienced no small amount of family dysfunction. out of that, i’ve developed an unyielding commitment to setting boundaries at the same time as i continually compromise them with a compulsion to be there for my family. sometimes, at my own expense. it’s not a linear journey.
because of my experiences growing up, i’m totally dedicated to honesty, openness, sanity and functionality in my own relationship and little nuclear unit. i’m incredibly proud that stone and i have had these things for the whole time we have been together. breaking family patterns can be very hard to do, but i’ve done it with the help of good friends, stone, good metaphors, lauryn hill songs, and the forgiving universe.
amazement at our relationship is, in fact, one of the reasons why i love staying home, why i’m trilled by mundane domestic bliss and why i can never get enough of this quiet happiness. i’m filled with joy that Zi may experience having a family life with two parents. stone and i like each other, like spending time together and almost never fight. peace and love and stability between us is what i want for her as part of my life achievement.
to achieve this so far, i’ve had to develop clear-eyed understanding of what unhealthy family relationships look like. doubtlessly, there are unhealthy people in my family. the question is what do i do with them?
i want to just cut them off, but i know i would regret it one day far in the future. i’m not an enabler, but i’m not an abandoner. i want to demand honesty, but i’d rather things be unsaid just to keep the peace. i feel great compassion and love, but also anger and disgust. i’m so done, yet without a doubt they can count on me. i’m already exhausted and just dealing with them makes me tired, but somehow, if that is what it takes, i will find the energy.
so, while balancing baby and work, i’m also trying to figure how how to balance their needs from my own need for self-preservation, stillness, safety. so many families are just like this. complicated and messy, happy and hurtful, full of truth-telling and lies, wrongs and acceptance. in the mix, things that shouldn’t happen do and people say nothing and the most vulnerable have to find their way on their own, in full knowledge of everyone else. we tolerate so much that shouldn’t be in the name of family. and while i’m not an abandoner, i’m not a rescuer either. i’ve learned that i can’t be.
i lost crucial time at work today, distracted by these thoughts. how much do i take responsibility for others who won’t for themselves? how much can i help? when do i say enough? can i live with untruths and unsaids and unfixed pasts and presents and futures? what is the priority around which all these decisions should be made?
all i want for Zi, Stone and me is a quiet life, together. exactly what we have now, but forever. i’d like to not deal with anyone else’s unworked through issues and karma and chaos. sometimes its enough trying to be the best person i can for my own life, and i dont always succeed. i could do without having to be the best person i can for another person too, someone i can only approach with ambivalence.
but here i am, and i have no choice but to try…perhaps because of who i am or because i have something to learn from this situation or because things are unfolding as they should or perhaps just because this is my family and my role is to breathe, be grateful and give.