Disclaimer: I am no expert on this topic. However, you’re welcome to take a peek into my mind.
Context: Ma Familia
I think the unconditional love lesson hit home when my elder brother stated that his main reason for moving out was because I was the most toxic member of the family.
I’ll let that sink in.
Fast forward, now that it’s out of his chest and we can agree we aren’t each other’s favorite sibling, I know for a fact that we love each other. He moved on to start his own family, but if something was wrong with me, and vice versa, we would show up for each other in full support. Once in a while, we’ll trade drunken catch-up phone calls that typically end with “I love you.” Do I think he was right? Perhaps not, because I also thought he was a failure as an elder brother. People see things differently. HOWEVER, we can only speak of our reality.
*He doesn’t read my blog, so this is between you and I, okay? 😊
Yes, that is the type of family I hail from.
Is it the norm? HELL NO!
Do people understand it? HELL, to the NO!
And that’s fine.
Here’s the thing about us. We are zealots when it comes to calling out each other’s bad behavior, whatever the hierarchy. I have swallowed some significant Ls myself for my actions. Somehow, my parents managed to produce three children with no filter and boldness to call a spade a spade. I love my dad and mum, but the epic showdowns we’ve had in the past have made our current conversations so much richer.
What is the recipe?
One more time for the people in the back-
In a group chat with my siblings, not sure what prompted it, I wrote, “we have white parents.” Have you watched those clips of white kids acting schupid, and they aren’t whooped to near-death? You know, those videos that we African kids watch in disbelief because we know if we tried something similar, we’d be dead? Like literally?
Don’t get me wrong; my parents weren’t always liberal. I have been beaten with a mega torch, slippers, a hose, and, yes, a banana. My mum was next level Rambo. She could throw a slipper across the room at a moving target, and it would hit you smack in the middle of the back.
That aside, Wambaire developed a mouth in high school. I’m sure you can tell from the posts I put out. Actually, the mouth was there long before. As a kid, I remember visiting my grandfolks and saying one of the uncles had brought cheap biscuits. He was so offended he told his mummy, LOL! That said, he is the uncle that we as cousins pay the least attention to. Oh, and my aunts choosing not to share a bed with me when visiting because I was used to sleeping alone and made that clear. Ah, and that time I told my aunt to vacate my folks’ house because she was a selfish- she was making things to be about herself. The apology after was cosmetic, because… because. I have a Ph.D. in putting people in check. Is it a good thing? *scratches nose* Bitchness has been strong in me since childhood.
Okay, you know what. I am the problem, just that I am okay with it, as long as I call out bad behavior. If I have ever said something to you, analyze it. If I was wrong, let me know, I will apologize. I aspire to peace, love, and unity. If you’re not inspiring that, then… well… it might be a YOU problem that has me at a “no fucks given” me problem.
But the meme below summarizes how my dad didn’t summon the clan and our ancestors for a lynching when I talked back. Because, my word! If my life is short, I won’t even complain because of that 5th commandment. I pray that Jesus fulfilled it, meaning I get to 100, with a tot of gin in my hand.
The bottom line was, while my siblings and I stormed the entity of parenthood and had what we can call an insurrection, we were looking to be treated with respect. Not as equals, but with respect. This thing for African parents talking smack to you because they born you wasn’t something we were going to live with. The respect we had for ourselves was so strong that we had to get it from them too.
There’s a counseling psychology term for this type of shift in the family dynamics, but it’s not coming to mind at the moment. I know that a lot of families don’t get past the tipping point to positive change. They resist it, and the status quo, dysfunctional as hell, remains.
I thank God we moved past it. Was it messy? That’s an under-question.
I recommend revolutions in families. Conversations with my parents is sooo muuccchhh richer! They see you as a whole and as an independent person they can have a meaningful conversation with. You learn from each other, bounce off ideas, laugh about the past… it’s beautiful. What’s even more fantastic is if you have differing positions, WE BOTH stop and try understand where the other is coming from.
Yes, my folks are better than yours.
And then there’s the rest of the world
I know if I have a fight with my folks now, where we exchange words calling out each other’s behavior (yes, the behavior, not the person), if I was to collapse for whatever reason, they would go above and beyond to be there for me. They have left the house at 3am before to take me to hospital. At 2am to retrieve me from a fucked-up situation.
My parents put the ride in “ride or die” lol
I realize that other families out here, based on the stories my friends give me and what I’ve heard, love is VERY conditional. Apparently not meeting a certain standard gets you talked about negatively and basically treated like a non-human. Where, when you make one mistake, you are no longer liked, especially if you’re an outsider. I don’t understand that structure but it’s the reality.
I am living with bipolar. My parents have seen it in its full glory (banging their door at 11pm- demons don’t know time smh!) but love me none the less. “But it’s their job!” Sorry? Have you seen how some parents treat their own children?
So, for me, stepping out into the world, I expect a level of understanding especially when my moods flair up. It is not a license for me to be schupid, no. I only expect a level of understanding when I mess up based on factors beyond me, e.g my mind, and my mood, BIPOLAR. That said, not everyone has the patience for it, and that is okay.
My love language is following up. “How are you doing? How are the meds taking you? Were you able to get out of bed today? What about the nightmares? Also, what is bipolar? You know what, better yet, let me google it for myself.”
Just like racism, it is not my job to educate you about it. We live in an information age; your ignorance is a choice.
So now, what do we do?
I lost fucks. However, they do tend to creep in once in a while. This is how I choose to look at it.
Not everyone is equipped to handle the levels of “emotions” I have. Emotion is a lazy term for people who aren’t capable of understanding the complexities of the human mind. I have also been lazy in some contexts, so I get it on a larger scale. Personality and experience can also be a huge barrier to embracing other people.
The next is working on self-love to degrees that people’s inability to understand you won’t hurt you. And here’s where I say, “How I feel is a me problem. How you feel is a YOU problem.” I can be hurt by someone’s reaction to my essence, but at the end of it, it’s me with the feelings, not the other person. So, I will sit with it until I have moved past it. A recent realization is “If you liked me so much and I fucked up this one time, and you withdrew your affection, did you even like me in the first place?”
Note: There are a lot of people I love, and would wish to talk and hang out with, but. Being compatible, come rain or sunshine, is not something we’re all blessed with. Friendships and family can survive some things, others can’t.
What is my point?
One: Not everyone was Jesus’s fans. Who am I?
Two: Love manifests differently based on your essence and background. However, there is true love, and there is “you must” love. Example is people with abusive parents and still say “I love my parents”. That is fear laced with perverted societal expectations. Call a spade a spade.
Do you REALLY love your parents?
Call to action
Want to have a conversation? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you do have the energy, and we can take it from there.
Until then, hydrate, wear a mask, and love yourself.