They say you can choose your friends, but you can’t shoot your relatives. This of course is untrue.
Every week a different a colleague walks in with a huge, stressful personal problem. He or she invariably proceeds to tell a story about an exchange in which a sister-in-law said something surreptitiously nasty to their mother on a Facebook photo of their child on a bike which that family shouldn’t be able to afford anyway.
These stories are always related with passion and great emphasis on the cruel injustice as it applies to the story teller, who is generally in no way involved. This seems to be the greatest source of stress in the lives of my colleagues.
There is, I think, some small justification for this. The scariest and most damaging place in which to find bullying is in your own family. A family is a large, unruly thing, growing and evolving outside all control. Feuds and alliances seem to change without reason and tiny events somehow hold enormous significance (I never know why I’m not being talked to by whom, I just enjoy the quiet). A bully is also a strange, fluid creature. Every one of us has been victim to one and every one of us has been one (then denied it and blamed someone else so we could sleep). The tight, dirty, petty pleasure of sneering at others is a feeling known to us all (particularly those on committees) and family feuds seem to bring out the urge in the most angelic of people. The bully is not one person, to be shunned, it is one small part of all people, especially people who didn’t come to your birthday and somehow ended up with nanna’s silver.
There is in fact, a small insight in this rant, and it is this:
You CAN choose your relatives. My family, made up of a nauseatingly adoring couple, two thick spaniels and an apathetic rescued cat, is mountain ranges and oceans away from all its extended family problems. The worst they can do is snigger at the inaccuracies my self-aggrandizing blog. Let them enjoy it, why not?
So think about your family dramas, and ask yourself how much time and energy they are worth to you. Don’t give them any more, and don’t get swept up in waiting, white knuckled, for the next passive-aggressive Facebook notification message. Buy a good book.
Yours rediculously honestly,
I can see every family member everywhere in the Southern Hemisphere, slowly going red in the face, assuming that this article is a direct attack written just especially for them. They are drafting sarcastic emails to each other, but only to those took Jack’s side after that nasty letter Mildred got last Christmas.