The Bride of the First House (bride) wrote,
The Bride of the First House

Socially Handicapped

weather: mostly cloudy
outside: 5°C
mood: disheartened
My [maternal] family is a surreal experience. I have to learn that no one else's family is like us. I have to learn that we are an anomaly that doesn't exist anywhere else.

I have a family that will beat down my door to help me and provide for me at every opportunity. I have to strenuously reverse bargain with them to let me help them out and to take less from them than they want to give me.

Whenever we make food, we always make enough for each other. We all take turns making cool new food and sharing it.

Whenever we go out (grocery shopping or whatever), we deliberately ask if there's anything anyone else needs. We don't put everyone's stuff on separate bills and when we come home, we don't ask for the money back because we know that the next time they go out, they will pick up what we request and not ask for payment either. That doesn't stop us from trying to pay someone back for our personal stuff and making up lame excuses for giving them extra ("It's for gas"; "You paid for my stuff last time and I've been busy, so I'll pay you back to even it out"; "I won't have any money next week, so you should take this now"; "Nono, keep the change, I don't want to carry around heavy coins"... it was a $20 bill for a $1.25 thing).

Whenever we go out for dinner together, we fight to pay the bill.

My wedding was the first time I stood up to them like a Big Girl™ and refused all monetary help. I still had to let my Dad bail me out because the restaurant forgot to tell us that they only took bank drafts or personal cheques(!) and we were stuck there at the end of the night with a $15K bill to settle. I paid him back the very next day though. But I'm glad they were there. =P

That is my family. This is how I was brought up. I have learned this behaviour and I naturally expect it from other people, that it will be reciprocated in time. And when I realize it won't, I'm disappointed and disheartened.

At first, I was amused at how incredibly easy it was to take the bill when I went out with other people. I only now understand that most people will never pay unless I discreetly refuse to. I now understand that true friends will have the decency to at least try to take me on. *wry grin*

I've never had the problem of having my family refuse me money, refuse to help me or pull any crap on me over money. They'd never demand payments and surcharges for completely fabricated and unreasonable items. Nor have I ever had to deal with emotional blackmail or extortion(!!!) from them. It nearly killed me to learn that immediate family members could do this.

Much to the contrary, my family keeps offering to do so much for me, but they have barely enough for themselves. This source of income will be gone next month. That source may or may not be there anymore. There's that other huge thing that needs to be paid for in a while. The way I see it, they could use the money/help that I give them. I've recently had to comfort and reassure a family member when they* broke down in tears because they genuinely thought they should have done much more for me "that one time" ten years ago. I know they love me, but I don't see how they can possibly have the resources to offer me the things that they do. This is why I'm so uncomfortable accepting their help.

* — I'm purposely using "they" as a gender-neutral, third person singular pronoun.

Tags: reminiscence

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