Tag Archives: childhood

Family Is Not Flesh & Blood

Family Is Not Flesh & Blood

I did not grow up with a lot of family. My dad only had one sibling and my mother was the only child so any “family” we did have were not blood and just really close friends of the family. It certainly didn’t help that we moved a lot due to my dad’s position in the Navy or that his sister waited until late, late in life to have a child (in her forties), so my dad did feel any obligation to have his kids get to know his side of the family. Not only that, he was raised in South Carolina in a time where racism was rampant and he just did not want to expose his children to that, so we basically had very little, if any ties to his side of the family.

With that in mind, we learned to make family. What I mean by that is I don’t consider someone who has a blood relation with me to automatically be family. Blood is not thicker than water in my eyes because it certainly does not make an individual that less likely to hurt, betray or use you. Blood to me are the ones in my life that I can rely on, that are present, that I can call in the middle of the night and know they will be there without the expectation of something in return.

Basically to me family is more than just sharing blood. You have to earn the right to be called that.

And that of course is where Robby and I clash. Family to him is blood relation or proxy blood relation (spouses, specifically). He grew up in a household very different from me and with parents who had several siblings, which meant aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. He also for a time was raised Mormon so that also fed into the whole concept that blood automatically equates to family. family

As a result, we often have conflicting views. I do not feel obligated to extend our home to someone who has barely shown any interest in our well-being over the course of 10 years, whereas he does. I do not appreciate said individual trying to insert herself into our lives, for instance, wanting to come to the baby shower, because she’s suddenly decided we are worth interest, and I’m sure now worthy of gossip that she can pass around to other members of the “family”, whereas he does.

He often claims that he cares more about family than I do, which is infuriating, because of my view. I often have to remind him that isn’t true, I’m just not willing to let blood relation define any type of relationship I have with someone, especially when that person has a history of taking advantage of the people who’ve allowed entry into their lives.

As much as I adore him for how much he does care about family, as he’s shown it time and time again with mine, I also can’t help but begrudge him for not understanding where I am coming from. I had a mother who walked away when I was a very young age and would only reach out when she wanted something, so I do not have the capacity to welcome or entertain any type of relationship with individuals who seem to have the same track record.

I make no apologies for how I chose to repair what was broken by the one person I should have been able to count on the most, and I certainly won’t let my family suffer for the ideals and naivety of a man, regardless of how much I love him, who doesn’t understand that the 90% of world is populated with people who wouldn’t hesitate to bleed you dry, blood relation or not.

So I guess when it boils down to it, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

The Faceless Man: An Art in Hiding

I spent the majority of my life believing something was wrong with me because I had very little interest in participating in activities those my age were interested in. This was further compounded by a father who thought something was wrong with me because I constantly chose to spend my time indoors, on the computer instead of interacting with people in the “real world”. In fact, he believed so strongly that something was wrong with me, that he would frequently push me to go out and do things despite my protest, and so I learned to appear to be more outgoing and social then I felt. I learned to adapt to my surroundings, fake it until I made it, and ultimately I learned the art of hiding.

It’s an interesting art to learn, somewhat similar to the Faceless Man in Game of Thrones. You learn to strip away your identity and to become what those around you want you to be, what they need you to be. I mastered the art so long ago that sometimes I find myself slipping back into and not realizing it. It’s so easy to fall back on old habits and so easy to pretend, at least it is for me. There was never anyone during my childhood or adolescent years that truly knew me. I was who I needed to be to survive and ultimately it served me well. After all, no one can hurt you if they don’t truly know you, so I made sure no one did.

I can’t say when I started to become more accepting of who I was but I know it was something that happened gradually. I could say that my first love is what changed it all but I’d be lying. If anything my first love was what forced me to see just how much of myself I was hiding. I wanted to be the person he needed and wanted and so I disregarded the things that made me an individual. I put him above anything and everything, most especially above me. It was he and I against the world until it wasn’t. To Be Yourself

And then my world imploded and I was forced to figure out who I was without him. I was forced to really see me and what I had become, and while at the time I felt like my world was ending, as I got stronger and pushed myself up from the rubble left in his wake, I looked in the mirror in disgust. This was not who I wanted to be and somewhere down the line I let a man, no, a boy define me. I become that girl, you know the girl, the one who makes a boy her world not realizing that boy will never do the same for her. It was in the wake of that destruction that I started to change. It fueled me and pushed me to learn what made me, well, me.

Now that I’m older, I have a better understanding of who I am. For a long time during my early twenties, I was often described as an extrovert by those who interacted with me and I was always proud of that fact. I thought it made me a better person and I went out of my way to epitomize everything I thought that meant but as the friends I had in high school started to go their own ways and get involved in things I had zero interest1 in, I realized I was still hiding but to a lesser extent. I was still acting in a manner that people wanted, hiding my less desirable counterparts2 because I wasn’t sure there was anyone in my life that would stick around if they actually knew me.

Ultimately, as time went on, the people that I considered friends become few and far between and my circle of friends dwindled drastically, though if I’m honest, completely. Once I stopped accepting last minute invitations from “friends” who’s plans fell through, those “friends” made less of an effort to keep in contact so I turned to the internet where I found solace, first in the anonymity it provided and then in the connections I made with those that had similar interests who readily embraced the introvert that I spent more than a decade trying to hide.

Now, nearly 2 decades later, I’ve come to accept that I am more introverted than I am extroverted. I no longer force myself into interactions that make me uncomfortable and I have since stopped being what people want me to be. I will never be the girl who enjoys parties, large crowds, or small talk. I won’t ever be the girl who prefers going out drinking during the weekends over staying in to play video games or read.

I am the girl who seeks meaningful conversation over superficial bullshit. I am the girl who prefers to have a small handful of friends I know I can count on over many friends who aren’t reliable. I am a geek who enjoys gaming, web development and design. I am a girl who found herself and learned to embrace the quirks that some may find weird. I am not easily understood or easy to befriend, but at the end of the day when I lay my head down at night, I AM ME.

Take it or leave it.

  1. Drugs and partying.
  2. The geek in me is still angry.

Identity Crisis: A Childhood of Racial Shame

Despite the fact I was born in the mid 80’s and racism wasn’t as prevalent during those times, as a child I still faced it every day.

My sister and I had to walk to take a bus to school which meant waiting at the bus stop and dealing with the Mexican children who thought they were better than us because we were black. Add that to the fact that I was mixed and had a hard time identifying with either of my racial backgrounds, being happy with my racial and cultural background was quite difficult, so difficult in fact that most days I wished I was white.

Identity Crisis: Racial ShameIt’s true growing up during those times was significantly easier than what they were in the 70’s, but having to deal with kids throwing rocks at you because of what they perceived you were racially, made it difficult to be proud of my heritage.

It didn’t make it any easier to know that I just wasn’t black enough and I was considered ugly to my Asian relatives because my skin was too dark. As a result I spent the majority of childhood trying to fit in and desperately wanting to be accepted, even if it meant kissing ass or committing heinous acts because one of the “cool” kids told me I should.

Half of my childhood, I can say I don’t recall and I wonder if it’s due to the fact that my mind needs to repress memories that hurt too much to think about.

Now as an adult, while I can understand that as a child, mentality, I would never have been able to grasp that I was selling my soul and trading my dignity for a fleeting moment of bliss, I can’t help but be ashamed of who I was.

In some ways, I wish that I had been stronger and more courageous, but in other ways I know those trials helped me to be who I am today: strong, resilient, unwavering.

I can’t say that if I have children their trials will be any easier nor can I say that things will be different and the racism I faced will no longer exist. I can’t even promise that they won’t face the identity crisis and racial shame I experienced, but what I can say is that despite how they feel, what they think, or what they face, they are not alone.

I only wish there was someone who was around to make me feel the same.