Self-righteousness drives us to change the world around us. We become blinded by a greater sense of obligation to the world in which we occupy that we lose sight of the world that occupies us. Perpetually running away from home towards a future that grants us no solace, we can’t escape from the confinement that our insecurities create. We chain ourselves to demons but renounce their existence, praying that they’ll go away on their own accord as long as we ignore them. These wounds are self-inflicted, but we point the finger at those who will always be there. These bruises serve a purpose; they push us closer into the arms of apathy, making it easier to cut ties with those who love us more than life itself. The blind lead the blind as we lose ourselves to the convenience of detachment. It’s much more comforting to forget and rewrite our past than to confront and accept it. It’s so effortless to ignore and criticize our family than to reach out, rekindle and salvage all that remains. We drown ourselves deeper into the waters of oblivion and have long since forgotten that blood is thicker.
My grandmother raised me for the majority of my upbringing and for many years thereafter. I loved her more than life itself; I am in many ways an extension of her. She was the kindest person I have ever known; to this day I have yet to come across another whose unwavering purity parallels hers…though I remain patient and steadfast. When she left me, I succumbed to anger and escaped into the arms of withdrawal. I became numb to the world around me, and grew deeper into solitude. My relationship with my mother became damaged during this time. I judged her based on the relationship she had with her own mother, which was toxic to my juvenile eyes. For my own emotional catharsis, I blamed my mother for much of the pain that my grandmother endured in her last days. I, like most delusional youth, assumed that I could somehow “improve” my mother…in a process that was unbeknownst to me, I used precociousness to disguise pompousness, and personified a holier-than-thou complex that kept me antisocial for the remainder of my adolescence. I acted as if I roamed this earth longer than my mother. As if I carried her within me for 9 months, sacrificing my own aspirations to work 2-3 jobs to provide food and shelter for someone who couldn’t even value or appreciate such sacrifice.
Dysfunction is inherent to every family – this goes without saying. How one handles this dysfunction speaks volumes of their inner and outer workings. Those who avoid their family at all costs are only running away from a past that they will surely perpetuate in their own lifetime. Peace and closure can never be obtained in the absence of forgiveness or understanding. Animosity is toxic and contagious; holding on to it was destroying me from the inside. I have learned to let go of resentment and have grown to accept people as they are, not as they ought to be in my eyes. I have learned to refrain from judging my own kind to some higher order of conduct that I set for myself and project onto others. Only he who is without sin may cast the first stone, and I am far from virtue. My condemnation, my naivety, my immaturity…among a plethora of other characteristics rooted in weakness…stunted my growth as a man. As secure as I led myself to believe, I was too lost to comprehend the true meaning of family and everything that it stands for…loyalty. The unconditional commitment to the livelihood of another, loyalty is the most irrational, unexplainable and yet fundamental oddity to every family. Understanding and appreciating its worth is pivotal to developing a strong social support system. Our family exposes us to it, but it is entirely up to us as individuals to internalize it.
I would like to think that my family has changed significantly over the years, and that I was the catalyst for such change. The truth is that my family hasn’t changed at all, nor will they ever. It was I who changed; I have learned to forgive, to accept, and to respect. I have learned to appreciate, to cherish, and most of all – I have learned to love. I see now that they did the best they could, and I couldn’t be more proud to carry on their legacy…our legacy. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all merely seeds in our family’s garden. No matter how far our branches may stretch, we can never escape our roots.
“A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”
– George Moore
I have found what I was looking for in the home of my upbringing; I have discovered what I need above all else. Always and forever, my family is my everything.