Reflections on Buffy Episode s05e06 “Family”


I wrote this post at the same time as “Et tu Tara?!“, but I went on a long tangent; I decided to separate the topics. This is the product…

I mean, every parent threatens to beat their kids in anger. My parents spanked me as a kid, but that is not the same as abuse (hitting or beating). I’ve been hit before, but a couple of mistakes does not equal a pattern of abuse. Monsters are evil. Therefore, in essence, my dad called me evil. Blah, I make them sound awful! They aren’t bad people! They love me a lot! I love them! We get along well. People get angry, especially when they have stupid kids like young me, and say things they don’t mean. Too bad kids are impressionable and if they hear something enough, sometimes they start to believe the words. It wasn’t like they were mean to me; I just did stupid things a lot.

My brother doesn’t thinks “blood kin” are important. He thinks the emotional bonds you have with people, regardless of blood, is what makes family. I’m not sure why. In Tara’s case, when family completely rejects you, finding your own “family” makes sense. Sometimes it hurts my feelings that he doesn’t view us as important. Well, he views us as important but not necessarily important. In other words, our place in his life is replaceable. I think except in cases of out right rejection, abuse, or other extenuating circumstances, blood family always has a place in your life. Sometimes family is unhealthy to be around. For example, I know a woman recovering from her eating disorder who refuses to see her family because they trigger her so much with incessant body shaming of others, etc. That to is a different case. In my opinion, barring unhealthiness/abuse/rejection, just because you don’t care for or dislike certain members does not mean the family ceases to hold value in your life. Fyi, I like everyone in my family! I think my brother hold himself at a distance because he is afraid of true open communication and he learned as a child that voicing his needs and emotions was not okay. To be fair, non-violent communication rarely occurs in my family.

I’m not sure where he learned that. I learned it to, but differently. I attributed my interaction style to teachings that nice people go along with what others want, good people don’t make a fuss, etc. Taken to the extreme, you get children who don’t know how to express emotions because you punish them for it.

I never saw it with him. I thought it was directed at me because I was overly emotional or bad. However, it is possible that by the time I was old enough to understand these messages, it was already ingrained in him. Therefore, the stoicism I took as inner strength, which I lacked, was really a learned behavior.

Furthermore, I’m a submissive masochist, but he is a Dominant sadist! So, it would not follow that our upbringing influenced my submissive side, unless there really was a difference in their attitude towards us because I was overly emotional, bad, or female. My parents made adhere to some gender roles (nothing inherently wrong with that!) and they do treat us differently in some ways. For example, my mom told me she would disown me if I lived with someone before marriage…while my brother was living with my future sister-in-law. She explicitly said as a female, it would be worse for me to live with a man, than my brother living with his girlfriend. However, my parents never said or implied women were less than men or incapable of anything, just different. In fact, since I can remember, I’ve been told I can do anything I want in life and it is important to be able to take care of myself. Haha, I guess that means I can’t be a painter!

The problem with this theory is that we were never punished for minimal expressions of emotion. So, I’m not sure where we got the idea. I know my dad’s family does not express emotions or needs because my aunt is overbearing, temperamental, and abusive when angry. (Yes, that is right, I said abusive. I can recognize abuse even in my family. My nuclear family is not abusive though.) Therefore, the other kids learned to never express their desires for fear of setting her off. This interaction style persisted in adulthood. My mother on the other hand, has no problem expressing her desires. In fact, I’m envious of her ability to sway people’s decisions with reasoned arguments. So, maybe our dad was an example of non-adaptive communication, but our mom was not. In that case, why didn’t we learn from her? She certainly did her best to course-correct us both prior to middle school.

Maybe I am over thinking things. Maybe my emotional issues are only mine. That is perhaps no matter how I was parented, I would turn out the same way. I’m jealous of my brother. He grew up in the same home and came from the same gene pool, yet he has no diagnosable mental illness. Why am I so weak? Why could he adapt, while I could not?

Dean--WTF photo dean-annoyed.gif

I wonder how my brother views our childhoods. Does he see any maladaptive interactions? If so, what? Did they affect him? Is that why he never calls/ returns calls? Or is there another reason? Does he think we were treated differently? Regardless of our upbringing did he notice different attitudes toward gender? Did Mom or Dad ever hit him (spanking doesn’t count) or was that just me? Did they ever threaten to hurt him? Did they ever call him names?

Most of the hitting and name calling occurred after he left for college. He left for college when I was 13. I don’t remember any hitting or name calling before age 11. So, he was not around for most of it. Mostly, he stayed in his room. So, he wouldn’t be present anyway. Also, this wasn’t frequent by any measure! The hitting and name calling I speak of are isolated incidents, arising from specific behaviors on my part. In fact, the only reason I remember each time so clearly is because it was rare!

I think we were treated differently, but I think it was because he was the first child. Therefore, in general, they were tougher on him and more relaxed with me. If there were any negative messages, he heard them louder and more clearly. As a result, he should be worse off than I am, if our upbringing had anything to do with who I am. At the same time, since I was about 11, my parents said certain things about me, but only after I did inexplicable things. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…

Meh, I’m over thinking things again. Every family has foibles. No person, and parents are people, is perfect. My family is no better or worse than any other non-abusive, healthy family. I take that back, my parents were fricking heroic when I was born early. Family is not to blame. No one is, this is just me.

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