If you look at some desi people’s social media posts, they will have you believe that their family is straight out of the movies. Each person is this perfect character who does no wrong and oozes empathy through every pore. While the reality is that many of them don’t even talk to each other, and the resentment runs miles deep. But for the “likes” in the online world and to impress those who don’t matter, they curate a production of deep connections, powerful feelings, and meaningful emotions.
Then there are folks who enjoy victimizing themselves. Their posts will create an illusion that they are the only saint amidst demons. Every single person in their family belittles them. These misunderstood, broken souls battle cruelty every day. What they don’t understand is that a large majority of people consider their posts about familial bickerings as daily entertainment. Five, heart emojis and hashtags aren’t proof of people truly getting your story or being in your corner.
The main problem is that desis rely a lot on external validation and miss deep connections. From the time we are born until our last rites, every second is curated keeping others in mind. The brands, the vacations, the shopping, the accolades, the houses in many cities are part of the approval-circus. What people think, say, feel, believe preoccupies a big part of our day. Instead of all this materialistic nonsense and impressing others, what if we spent that energy getting to know ourselves and our family members? What if we shared what’s bothering us? Our bonds would be so much more profound, no? There is something grounding about family.
No family is perfect. Each of us individuals are flawed in our own ways. When there are a dozen brains, varying emotions, and people from different families involved, flare ups are bound to happen. Differences make us real. Relationships are like sinusoidal waves. There are highs and lows. Expecting only good times is a little unrealistic. You can’t choose convenience over confrontation for any long-lasting connections. You can’t live in denial and expect issues to sort themselves out.
I have seen men pick sides and not visit their families because the wife and their mom had an argument. To use difference of opinion as a reason to disengage with your family is so immature, and something that will haunt you as you get older. It’s OK to not like everyone. It’s absolutely acceptable to communicate what doesn’t sit well with you. You don’t have to sacrifice who you are and what you feel. But to feel connected with no one and find faults with everyone tells us that the underlying problem might be with you.
I am not commenting on people dealing with real trauma. In many instances, there is abuse, violence, and other reasons why someone doesn’t want to stay in touch with their blood relations. There are genuine, uncomfortable situations in people’s lives where they have been deeply hurt by a family member (physically or emotionally), so distance is the best medicine. I respect self-care. My two cents are about people who get so caught up with living their lives (or showing it off on social media) that they forget what and who really matters.
My mother would often say, “Beta, unless you learn to not take everything personally and make the effort to embrace the boy’s family as your own, they will always feel like outsiders. In Indian marriages, families are at the core of relationships. When you accept the boy’s family, he will also see us as his own.” I used to think my mom was being anti-feminist (Oh, you had to meet Sweta in her early 20s). But as I got older, I understood what my mom meant. She was 100% correct. Life and relationships become meaningful once we stop personalizing every word and start loving others without conditions.
I was in India a few weeks ago. After I returned, my father fell critically ill. With my own autoimmune and time-off situation, I couldn’t fly back right away. Guess who was there to help my dad? First, my brother’s wife and then my husband! My in-laws and my brother’s wife’s mom have been equally invested in my father’s health.
Don’t for one second believe that we are the Brady Bunch. We are unique individuals with strong opinions and personalities. But in moments of crisis, we try to have each other’s back. That’s what’s most important, no? Because we all realize now more than ever that time is running out. Our parents are getting older. My generation is stressed and dealing with their own health, family, work, and other issues. People won’t be around whatever.
Are you willing to look at what works in your family? Or will you harp on how distant you have grown and not try? Are you willing to focus on the light that shines through the fractures, or will you obsess about the darkness? Remember: Life is short and unpredictable.
“Being a family means you are a part of something very wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life.” ~ Lisa Weed
For more of The Balanced Life on SEEMA.com, check out The Power of Stories in Healing