The last time I met up with some of my relatives from my paternal side a few weeks ago at my uncle’s birthday, I had a hard time bonding with some of them because whatever came out of their mouths was infelicitous as usual. One of my cousins approached me asking, “Where’s the baby?”
I was in the kitchen when she came up to me. With an eyebrow arched I was like, “Seriously? What the F…?” Only I was courteous enough not to say it out loud. Lifting my head up I smiled at her, “Why do you ask?” I already knew why she was asking that-another one of my cousins had asked that same question earlier-but I just wanted to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.
“Well, you’ve put on so much weight,” she explained, “the last time I saw you, you looked like a stick.” Such polite words you have there cousin, I thought. I would be lying if I said those words didn’t irritate me, but knowing she was just being herself- failing to be courteous and all-I calmly reminded her the last time we’d met was about three years ago. My sisters and I had deliberately skipped all family functions; it takes so much energy pretending one’s happy when they’re not, putting up with crap when one feels like they would explode. We didn’t have the grace to turn the other cheek, so we avoided attending the functions entirely.
Like I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, this ‘funny’ relationship we have with them dates back to when my parents were dating; dad’s family was rich, mom’s was poor, so we automatically earned the ‘poor cousins tag’. Even when God bridged that gap the tag still remained. Initially I used to feel bugged by it, but as I grew up I realized judging people based on what they have/don’t have, or where they stand socially is just tacky.
“There’s no baby, it’s all food,” I added, straight-faced. I let it pass without making a fuss.
I wouldn’t take any offence if I thought she only asked that in jest, because honestly some people have a ‘painful’ sense of humour, but I could tell, it was actually sarky.
That’s one of the reasons I hate attending any family get-togethers; from my paternal side especially, because it’s like every one of the members has been gifted in offending others, and we (my sisters and I) always have to play it cool; taking it all stoically. With my cousin for instance, I was so tempted to give her a piece of my mind, but I didn’t see the point. I didn’t want to be the better villain. It’s something I’m trying to overcome, given the circumstances-my ‘violent’ childhood. I chose to take the high road.
The last time I saw my cousin and the rest of the family, I really had lost too much weight; the job I had at the time was too strenuous; it was actually one of the reasons that made me opt to quit. I remember one of my uncles asking me why I looked that scrawny. “If it’s the job that’s taking such a toll on you, just quit,” he’d told me. I understood his concern.
Now three years later, a few of them found it an issue that I looked bigger than the previous time. One thing I’ve learnt in life is that it’s practically impossible to please everyone. If I decided to dance to their tunes, I’d lose myself, suffering from eating disorders because I’m either too big or too small for their liking; just not the right size. Good thing is, I couldn’t be happier with how I look, and to me, that’s all that matters; how I feel.