More Family ≠ Better Family (Part 1)

Reaching Out for Love by kjherstin on deviantART (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Reaching Out for Love by kjherstin on deviantART (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

My family tree is a mess. I couldn’t explain it well enough to be understood unless I had a dedicated website JUST for that. Ancestry websites get confused and give up. It’s quite fun to try to get them to represent my whole family. [sarcasm]

A lesson I learned early on is that adding more people to your “family” just waters down the term. I have more siblings than I can count on both hands. (And another person would have their hands full with the rest). I have aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, several step-moms/step-dads, and all that jazz. I tried counting them once. And then, half-way through, I got an update on Facebook saying that another of my cousins was pregnant. I gave up.

The thing I never understood back then is that my mother was (to be quite blunt) batshit crazy, and universally abusive. You could say she was an equal-opportunity villain. She used my family up. She took their money, their love, their time, and more. And you know what she did with every drop of it? She threw it out. My aunts and uncles withdrew. They would throw out a helping hand here and there, but they couldn’t risk sending us money, because they knew that she would take it. Probably to buy drugs.

Each time one of my parents got married, I was excited. The new spouse brought a line of family members my family hadn’t used up yet. This made them warm and welcoming. They were often kind and generous, because they weren’t out of money yet. I cherished these people. Then my mother would use them up. They would withdraw, and we would be confused. It was neverending.

My mother spent her life chasing from one man to another. My father spent his time in a cycle of: get her pregnant, go to jail, get her pregnant again, go to jail, she leaves him, he starts over by getting the next chick pregnant. Throw in a marriage here and there, and you basically get the 20+ years of breeding that my parents participated in. Each baby brought family members close for a short term, before my mother ran them dry and they retreated again.

I think it came down to a simple fallacy my mother clung to: If you want your family to love you, make more family. She thought that having children meant having more people who loved her. My father subscribed to much the same thought, I think. They kept searching for people to love them, never realizing that they were the ones breaking the cycle of love. They blamed others for being spiteful, mean, jealous, even evil. They never internalized that they were the common denominator.

I don’t blame my extended family for their distance. Hell, I applaud them for their love for me as an adult. Many of them have reached out. When I was hospitalized last year, they were among my most vocal supporters. They truly love me. I trust even the most distant of them more than I trust my mother. I never needed more family. I needed more of my family. Getting to know the people who already loved me meant that I have more love than I ever thought I’d have. And I didn’t need to get pregnant every second year to have a huge, loving, family.

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  1. Jake

    I share similar frustrations of your upbringing for you and your siblings. I love u cousin! I have plenty to share with you…

  2. Dood! Good to hear from you. What has it been, 20 years? 😛 Happy Thanksgiving to you, as well.

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