Our Family Sticks Together

When we were growing up, we heard that all the time–“Our family sticks together.”  I would venture to guess that you don’t often hear that in families where the sane aren’t looking to flee.


Ha.  No.  Maybe that’s not fair.


I remember when my cousin M. got married, how she took me aside right before the wedding and said, “I cannot wait until I don’t have our last name any more.”  I was so hurt.  I can’t even tell you.  Because as shitty as things got, I always felt like at least we had each other.  That eagerness she had to slip out of our name into a new one made me feel like she was eager to slip out of her ties to me.


It’s not so easy as that, of course.


But I was thinking about that when I was sitting next to my cousin A.  I have no idea what her last name is.  I went to her wedding last year and I don’t think I ever bothered to ask if she was staying with our last name or taking his.  In the important ways, it doesn’t matter; she still is my relative.  We still went through similar shit for similar reasons.


I love my last name; it ties me to my brothers, who I love more than anything on the planet.  It’s a constant acknowledgment of our shared history and our obligations to each other.


And, also, I kind of refuse to give up on it.  Why should it just be a word that mean big fat narcissistic fucks who beat the shit out of their kids?  It can also mean houses full of wild absurdity and deep conversations and all night cribbage games.


It can be a word that means how people learn to stop carrying their terrible shit around and throwing it in each other’s faces given the opportunity.


I don’t know how it will come to mean that.  I sat next to A. all night and I couldn’t think of anything to say to her.  I just wanted to sit near her and for it to be calm and not hurtful.  I wanted to just have her near me and for neither of us to feel bad about all the things that seeing each other reminds us of.  But that only sort of happened.


And only sort of for me.


I don’t know how she felt about it.  She seemed skittish in a way I hope I don’t any more.  Still, it looked familiar.


I don’t know. I do believe we can find new ways to be a family, if we all decide that it’s worth it.  But I’m also starting to think that there may be no shame in switching our family motto from “Our family sticks together” to “I’m here if you need me; it’s okay if you don’t.”

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My Big Fat Family

The Butcher and my cousin A. were sitting around this weekend comparing the ways our bodies betray our heritage.  My brother, bless his heart, is going bald in almost exactly the same way that my dear Uncle B. went bald, which is very similar to the way that my cousin A.’s dad is balding.


A. sadly, did not get that fun family trait.  Instead, like most of the rest of us, she got fat.


She was telling the Butcher that a little bit of time had gone by since she saw her dad and the first thing he said to her was “Are you pregnant or just fat?”


Ha, maybe today is the day of men I would like to time travel back to kick in the nuts, because I tell you, I would love to time travel back and kick every single person in my family who ever dared sit there in all his 300 plus pound glory right in the nuts when ever he said something about how fat any of us girls had gotten.


Maybe you skinny people don’t quite get how cruel this is, because lord knows you’ve gotten whole cultural memes out of how being fat is so unhealthy and how fat people are disgusting and slothful and gross and deserve your pity when you’re not shaming us into trying to do better–perhaps you think our fathers are just being blunt because sometimes you have to be blunt in order to get through to the unhealthy.


Fuck you.


Trust me.  There is not a fat person alive who does not know she is fat, who doesn’t every day feel the pressure of a whole culture hell-bent on making her feel shitty for being fat.  And when you come from a large family of fat people, most of whom struggled their whole lives to lose weight and never did, at least not permanently, you kind of hope for at least a little respite.


But no, even in a family of big old fat people, we still dog on the girls for being fat while the men sit around and laugh about how big their bellies have gotten.


So, yeah, just like it is out there in greater America, in our family, “too fat” is very much gendered.  It just pisses me off, this big old mountain of a man mocking his own daughter for being too fat.


My family is fucked up.  The Butcher told her how much he thought that sucked and she was all like “What?  That’s just how he is.”


Because, of course, isn’t that the other fun little secret of how that dynamic works? 


The men do all the bossing and horde all the privilege for themselves and the price they pay is either the women who are supposed to love them really hate them or figure they’re too fucking stupid to act any differently*.


I don’t know.  Maybe other families where the men have a lot of privilege work differently, but in the “traditional” families in my extended family, the love the men get is mixed in equal parts with hatred and fear and an assumption of idiocy.


I just don’t believe that’s any way for a family to operate.  I mean they can work that way–mine does.


But it sucks for everyone involved.  We can treat each other better and we should.


 


 


*I keep hearing about how feminists are man-haters and I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, you have not heard man hating until you’ve sat in a kitchen full of good “traditional” women.  We feminists get called on the carpet for man-hating because we’re the only idiots who believe men can actually change and say so to your faces.  Most everyone else is just sitting in the kitchen complaining about what fucktards you are behind your backs and playing all nicey-nice to your face.