“For all those I hurt while I was figuring myself out and those I may still hurt…” – Me, May 2019
I found it daunting to send out this blog to expose the deepest and darkest parts of the way I feel, the way in which my mind processes things and the way I see different situations but in all honesty the hardest part was speaking so openly about my family. I have been told my whole life to ‘keep it secret, keep it safe…’ not to talk about anything that happened behind our closed doors, outside. And being a private person I completely understand that. Why would you want these judging eyes given any form of view of the way you live? But what I have found is that by being so innately closed has meant I always felt like I was alone, like it was always just me and no one else felt a certain way or thought certain things. That whatever happened in the family was just us and it doesn’t happen anywhere else. But the more I discuss things with friends or have random conversations with people, I realise that people feel the same. They can relate and they also feel like they were the only one. And so for that reason I will continue, so, I can make someone not feel alone and so you understand it did happen to someone else.
I love my family, they are my whole world. Despite the anecdotes, I mention, they are the best people I know. And I hope you don’t pass any judgement on them, they like you and I, are a product of society and their experiences. So please be kind and have the capacity to cherish them.
My father and I clash more than anyone else. He thinks my passion is shouting, he thinks my opinion is me disrespecting him. A normal conversation about a toilet roll holder will finish in a verbal brawl because for some reason we just can’t get to the grasp of each other. I wanted to be respected and my opinion valued, he thinks he’s not because I don’t think the way he does.
I have completely and totally digressed from my original trail of conversation about not living in any form of a nuclear family. The other part of the Indian culture my father was so desperate to hold onto was the ‘community’ and living in an extended family, he wanted everyone to live together. Luckily my immediate family isn’t massive but it’s still more people than can breathe in a 3 bedroom semi-detached. They started off as any immigrant family in the 60’s living off any means possible. A house in which there were about 4/5 beds and having a ‘sleepover’ every night. Even when I was born it was this way. I still have the images in my mind from all those years ago, I remember this bed set up (as many beds in one room as possible). But then my uncle moved his family 4 doors down the road. We….well my father had already purchased another house opposite my original house. So, I have moved in my life and it was once when I was around 13 months old, about 100 ft away. What can I say? I started off as a creature of habit.
And so I was, in the actual terms of the phrase, brought up by a ‘village’. And to this day I still am. I will never want to change this about my life, it completely made me who I am now. The chaotic way in which all the personalities became building blocks in the pyramid of my life was just the way it was meant to be. There was always someone to talk to, if I wanted, in various capacities. We became a really close knit family and this was seen as abnormal to other families but this was us. We were the weird ones but I own this now. I never wanted to be like anyone else and this was a big part in that happening.
There is always some down side to everything. I did find this whole thing pretty suffocating as I became older. After years of my father trying make sure I was constantly obedient, well it kind of all fell to the way side when I started in a mixed sixth form. I had become feisty after being bullied in high school, I had met boys and started peacocking in my own way. This is something my father could not control, he had curfews (which were 10pm *rolls eyes* – I had left the house at 8 – how is this even reasonable?!) and I started spending more and more time in Starbucks and Nando’s. Coming home late and rebelling…..come on it was bound to happen. I hadn’t even had a detention before this. My mother never really and still doesn’t really say anything to us, she is the most passive, chilled out person I have met. Except for the one time I was told ‘There is a time a place’ after I decided to get drunk with my cousins at a family friend’s wedding. So by the time I was 20/21 my parents just dealt with what I was. And it was nothing more than a standard 20 year old, except for the fact I already had quite the moody and self entitled attitude. Then add Roaccutane to the mix (for my acne). Well ermmmm I was a handful, when I was in a mood which could happen at any time, anywhere but asides from that I wasn’t out causing havoc in the streets and I always managed to get home. I am quite proud that I am the only sibling that wasn’t caught ‘drunk’ by my Father.
However for some other members of the family this was an issue, I was inundated with judgemental comments, constantly being told I treat my house like a hotel. Was always getting into arguments with them as I was trying to get my own opinion out. I also didn’t help these arguments because I have an aggressive way of giving my opinion. And this naturally will get the other person more angry because it’s seen as a lack of respect. For me this is not the case, I am just really passionate…..but I have had to understand how this is perceived. I was always looked down upon as I stopped cleaning as much or being as involved with the family at home. This has transitioned into my adult life. I need you to realise I completely appreciate the untold number of things they did for me and will forever be grateful but trying to grow in your own skin is hard enough when already feeling self-conscious and not worthy. So then just coming out and being your own in an environment with many personalities, it was hard. There wasn’t much room for trying to be outside the ‘norm’ I had to keep pushing myself out, with the constant looks and comments it became harder and harder. Especially when I didn’t have the confidence to just own it. Its been hard to ignore comments or feeling bad for being the person I want to be and I am still doing it….but sometimes you have to keep going. I am not malicious in my actions, I don’t do it to hurt anyone intentionally but not everyone will understand. Just keep shedding your skin, snakes do it many times in their lives….
Being the family that were always seen as the ‘outsiders’ because we didn’t follow the traditional restrictions placed on us by everyone else. However even with this we still had spats of times where it was about ‘What would the others say?’ Honestly who the hell cares?! I say this in this context but my whole life I have always pandered to other people and cared what they thought about me. I spent each day painstakingly remembering the stupid things I said, how I may have come across, how they may have taken it……and always being so aware of how I never felt included. I always knew when people were talking about me……its just so clear in their eyes and body language. These days I try and ignore it.
After a while all these things just made me became self-reliant, which is probably the best thing you can do for yourself. Relying on other people or having some dependence just causes too much expectation and need. And the more I felt that I was an ‘outsider’ the more my independence grew.
I only realised how independent I was recently. Up until 30 and even until I was around 31, I was hell bent on making sure I was married. Coming out of a long term relationship and then realising 30 was in my eye line, I said to one of my friends – “I need to get married right now!” How ridiculous does that seem now? To just get married because that’s what I should have done by then. And this was encouraged as arranged marriages were the norm and my parents were married through the same process and so the idea of being married to someone because they understand you and what you are, is not the goal. Being married to someone because it worked for the family was the only reason….the only reason.
Even though it wasn’t driven through my parents, the idea that marriage was when you had ‘made it’ was filtered into my life like drops of rain, you know the annoying one when you can’t really feel it but then all of a sudden you are soaked. That’s exactly how I felt when 30 came around.
As much as I adore my grandmother, she only knew marriage to be the reason she would then be happy. When we are settled then everything is done. Even my mother said to me the other day, ‘Your dad and I want to go travelling and we will when you are settled’ – I had to respond and say ‘ I am settled, I may not be married but I don’t need you guys to be around for me to be OK. I am happy and I am an adult. You guys need to live your life’
If I think about all the weddings and parties I attended and would have people come up to me and say….
‘So when is it your turn?’, even once when I responded and said ‘Not yet’ it was met with ‘Well you should do soon’
And this was from someone who was no close relation. Now, I would respond differently but you are brought up to think people can just ask these personal things and try and burrow into this life you are so badly trying to hold together. You are figuring out where you stand in this world and you piece together these fragile pieces and someone can come in and ask you a question you are not ready to answer. They demand an answer to show that you are a product of a ‘good family’. It’s all a form of competition, who’s child is married first, who has the nicer car…who has the first child.
Trust me I have been in situations in which a male family member was going around asking all the newlyweds when they were having children…..It disgusts me that this is seen to be OK. No one seems to consider the mountains you have to climb to have children. And, yet its asked as if you should have already been done and in this case it was a form of gloating. Which I didn’t understand because he himself had a daughter who had her own problems. This notion of being the first or having it all seems to have driven people crazy.
They also do not understand the impact they have on the people they ask. People are finding their feet and they just rail road in and make you feel even more unworthy than you already feel. It baffles me why people are not kinder…why not ask about things which also matter…career….ideas…..life. This is my point it’s so based on the above checklist people have forgotten that we are on this Earth because all elements worked in our favour for life to form and we should be questioning how we got here or what we are doing here, instead of being so involved in the monotony of the life people are expected to fulfil. We are all individual miracles.
People haven’t seen the wonders of the world but are so involved in what’s happening with others. Shouldn’t everyone try and immerse themselves in the beauty of nature instead of being narrow minded? This feeds the behaviour we see today of people abusing each other and the world which is their home.
The questions people ask are personal……yet so expected
I think I now have become the person who doesn’t get asked, I consider it to be because I give off the ‘Don’t even think about it vibe’ but in reality it’s because I am older than 30 and
- I have been ‘shelved’ and am no longer a viable option for marriage as I am older than 30 and my eggs are probably dust now
- People think my family is somewhat cursed because my father’s younger siblings also didn’t perform the sacred act of matrimony
- They find it awkward – which is probably not the case as (some) Indians have no shame