Friends are important to us. In cases like mine, they feel closer than family. In many of my posts I’ve mentioned how I’m not close to my extended family because they regard people based on how much money they have and for the longest time my family has been holding the last position on the ladder so needless to say we’ve always been treated like pariahs.
When I look at the things they have done, they feel somewhat petty, but it’s the implication of their actions that make it really painful. I remember this one time we attended a get-together party and one of my paternal granma’s sister was the one serving food. Somehow she managed to serve all the people sitted in the same table with my small sister and I but ignored us.
We didn’t want to create any commotion so we just let that one slide. It was awkward being sitted amidst people who were eating while we weren’t, but since we didn’t feel free around them (based on previous meetings) we kept mum, even though we were extremely famished after travelling for hours to get there.
Later on when everyone was leaving, she invited all of our cousins to go spend the night at her place but again, she failed to invite my sisters and me. It couldn’t have been a coincidence. Devastated, and feeling rejected we drove back home. After holding back tears the whole day, when we got home, mom, who hadn’t attended the get-together opened the door and I just broke down in her arms.
I was a teenager, an age someone might consider old; nonetheless, rejection hurts. Almost all family gatherings I can remember have always left me feeling rejected; and basic conversations are usually targeted at my family, degrading us, making us feel like we’re simply nothing.
Based on this very wanting relationship, I’ve always felt disconnected from my paternal relatives. The cousins I have are the very condescending type, who only focus on one’s lows; what one doesn’t have and those little blasts from the past that make one want to cringe. Someone might disregard their behaviour citing frivolity, but what hurts is that they’re mainly inspired by disdain.
If for instance I have a phone that seems really beautiful, someone will point out it’s nice, then add, “But it only costs…” So if I was really confident I have a nice phone, I will leave feeling like it’s just a cheap phone. Normally what bugs me isn’t the fact that they only see bad things, it’s why they do it. They do it to hurt; to scorn, and that’s what I always find trouble adjusting to. Most of the times I just ignore them but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.
And just to prove the point, they will come with new phones the next time there’s a gathering. So basically at the end of the day our relationship with them feels like a competition. I must admit, I do feel envious of big happy families; families where people love without discriminating; where one isn’t hated or loved based on how much wealth they have.
Last weekend, my cousin invited family members to introduce her fiancé. We only live a few blocks apart, but my sisters and I weren’t invited (not that we would have gone anyway, because our encounters always end up badly). We didn’t even know there was any gathering until one of my mom’s sisters-in-law called her to tell her how it went.
Later, my cousin’s mom told mom that my cousin had only invited people who are close to her. That statement hurt for two main reasons: Firstly, we’ve never had any particular disagreement with her that would make us apparent enemies. If we’re not close it’s only because she has always felt her richer cousins were better.
Again, that sounds petty but her actions have never proven otherwise. Secondly, she got pregnant a few years ago and since most of my extended family members are the judgemental type, they shunned her as they didn’t want any embarrassments. At the time her own mom wanted her to get an abortion but because she wanted to keep the baby she was kicked out and we took her in.
The entire time she stayed at our place we were very close. When finally mom managed to talk to her mom, she went back home and even after she gave birth we were still close. When she gave birth, everyone fell in love with the baby and all those who had abandoned her came back. The instant they did, she pushed us-my sisters and I- away.
Everyone was invited for her daughter’s first birthday, except us. We felt used, and ever since, we’ve never been close again.
Owing to that strained relationship I have with the rest of my extended family, I feel closer to some of my friends. Though we’re not related by blood, I feel they are my family, because they don’t judge me and are always there when I need them.
‘Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are.’ That’s a quote I heard some years ago and everytime I hear it I know just how true it is. My friends are my family.