I get irritated whenever I have to interact with my family members, especially my brother and father. My mother, nevertheless, has no opinion of her own. Her life revolves around her children and husband, like a typical Indian house wife’s.
They don’t seem to be so dysfunctional upfront but they are. They just try to play it all safe by indirectly making me do what they want while making me think that it is what I desire. If you point out their mistakes, you either don’t have the manners to talk to elders or you are framing them as bad people.
They distort my memory and discard that anything bad has ever happened to me because that makes them come in the safe zone. Leaving them will, too, make me seem like a ‘bad child’ and they will prove themselves to be the victims. Also, they themselves don’t trust people and expect me to do the same. They think that just because they are my parents, they ‘should’ know about everything that happens in my life. They have stopped portraying this as much and as outwardly as before now but it is there in their personality.
I feel asphyxiated in my parents’ home even if they don’t bother me because it is their home. Here, I can never freely be myself. I have a constant fear of judgement attached to each big and small decision I take, even the kind of videos I watch. But if you talk to them, they will say that they provide me freedom in all senses and that I am the one who is exaggerating things and making up stories, that it is me who is dysfunctional.
This is what they do. They know what is real and add up elements in the story which makes me seem biased and them as good parents. Then, I start to question whether whatever that I had suffered, did I make it up in my mind? (while I know for sure that that is not the case). This is also know as gaslighting. They pretend to be the best parents in front of others and then don’t give me freedom and support. Also, my family knows that Music is something that I can never leave and which has always been my priority yet they keep talking about how it is not a ‘real’ job and will be a trouble.
It is very tough to recognize dysfunctional family members because they don’t openly practice their dysfunctionality all the time. Some wait for the right time to ask their child to pay back for what they did for them as parents. Some guilt trip children if they want to be self-sufficient. Some make their children their doppelgangers. Some seek to be validated in society by the deeds of their children so they try to regulate their work and career choices. Some guilt children for choosing their own romantic partners. Since to those children who have a mind of their own, they are unable to do it directly, they try to do it in very subtle ways. They despise children because they could no longer practice their control over their minds.
But identifying such people is very necessary. At times, it makes me question my own sanity. If you are doubtful, just believe in your intuition. If you have ever felt a threat or unsafe while your parents or family was at home, it is certainly not a healthy relationship, even if it is not dysfunctional. If they don’t give you your personal space without demanding or keep a track of your movements and what you talk about to people, chances are they are very toxic. Toxicity is like sweet and slow poison—fatal but hard to recognize until you suffer the symptoms.