Family is most likely the strangest social group our culture embraces. And I do mean, AMERICAN culture. We are already selfish, self-centered, self-indulgent people as a whole - in fact, we are self-named these things. That's right, we know we are and we are disgustingly proud of it. We continue to breed more selfish Americans by the millisecond. And then we get the idea that we can all come together and get along.
In a culture where everyone is taught they are unique and what they have to say matters, nobody actually listens to what another person has to say. It is especially true in the American home.
I love my brothers. They love me. That's not to say we don't have harbored resentment toward one another. For the longest time they thought I was stuck-up, snobby, a stick in the mud. Then suddenly I was a silly slut. I don't know what the older one thinks of me now; I do know we're back to where we were when we were little kids, friends. The younger one of course just thinks I'm old. And I am old, older than him anyway, and old enough to have a child of my own. I've thought many of the same things of them, maybe because they are boys: They were both troublemakers, rude, loud, annoying, dirty, into illegal activities, smelly, irresponsible. Okay, so one of them is still like that. The other one, I respect and admire, he turned out really well. Sometimes I even envy him, but mostly I miss him because he's always working.
Now let's throw in stepsiblings. Officially, legally, they aren't my steps, but they have been a part of my life now since I was eighteen. They have thought many of the same things of me that my brothers have, and I of them. There is a girl, my stepsister. We are both the eldest in our biological families, and I am older than her by about eighteen months. We have a strong bond now, but that's only because we went through the "hatin' stage" with each other. We did the REAL growing up together. And you know what - we're very different, she and I. In our details. But when it comes right to it, we value the same things.
I have often harbored the suspicion that my family - certain members of them - believe me to be the following things: humorless, ambitionless, flaky, irresponsible, dishonest, a follower, of less than average intelligence. Talk gets around in a family. This is why gossip in high school is as cruel as it is - we learn the rumor system from our elders in our home lives. It's worse with family, though. You have to LIVE with them. You have to see them and wonder if that's how they really feel about you for the rest of your life.
Time for in-laws! I love my in-laws. I truly do. But mixed with my family, it was like a landmine field. Every five seconds someone was stepping on a mine and it was exploding while they were here - be it me, them, my father, my mother, my grandparents, my siblings. It was a very hard time for everyone, when it was meant to be a joyous one, and I often worry that they came away from it thinking: OUR SON MARRIED THE BITCH QUEEN OF FAKE.
For some reason it isn't enough for me to know that I'm really pretty awesome. Just because I know that, doesn't mean everyone else does. I generally like people, and they generally like me. Sure there are some people I'd love to slap into the next Ice Age...but then I step back and realize there are people who think that same thought when they think of me. Kinda sucks, doesn't it? Especially when some of those people are members of your family. Trust me. It isn't only me. You've got that problem in your family too.
Sometimes I feel like I'm all twisted and tangled in this ridiculous net of family ties and I'll never get out. I'm knotted up tight and anxiety gets the better of me, and suddenly I'm fighting, straining to prove myself to these people. These People. Who they hell are they anyway? Where did they come from? Where are the ones who loved and protected me? Sure I'm an adult now. But sometimes I really feel as if I'm facing off with my family.
And then there are, increasingly now, more times than others when the net is like a gently swinging hammock, and all the ones I love are nestled in it with me. Because when it comes right down to it, I DO love every one of them. Everything is full of life and light. We're quiet and happy because we're together. I understand that the best thing about embracing yourself is looking at those you love and seeing yourself in them, that maybe being a little engrossed with who you are isn't such a selfish thing after all. We're all in this hammock, this life, together. And I look up at the sky, and all I can see is blue.