When I see a Facebook relationship status that says ‘It’s Complicated’, I scoff.
It’s because I don’t think a relationship can get any more complex than one that is of a family tie. If there is one thing I do not like about growing up, it is that as you grow older, the relationships you have had since you were a kid tend to grow too, usually into something even more complicated. I once had a conversation with a middle-aged woman, who told me this – “Kids, when they’re young, you’re physically exhausted from looking out for them. When they grow up, you’re emotionally exhausted. Given a choice, I would pick the former every time.”
A family can be either a blessing or a test. Sometimes, they’re both. But either way, it’s a good thing. Loving a sibling, for example, is the strangest thing. You would kill them but you will also probably kill for them. There are days and situations no one else would understand except for your own family. Similarly, in most cases they are the last ones to leave, if ever at all, when things go bad. But unlike spouses, or friends, you don’t get the luxury of picking who gets to be your parents or your sister or your brother. What you end up with sometimes are people who you love but are also the complete contrary to who you are or what you like. You either love or hate a boy, but with a family it teaches you these things; that it is possible to love so damn much and dislike at the same time, there is such thing as having hope while being disappointed, and feelings don’t get as genuine as wanting somebody in your family to have the best that life can offer.
These things act as great training ground for when you go out into the world. With other people, you can choose who you keep. But families, especially ones where everybody has grown with different personalities and motivations, will train you to accept. Not everybody fits into your small little box of ‘required’ lists, but you learn to accept them all the same. The patience to be a companion through life even if you don’t see eye to eye on things. The obligation to push your way out of anger and help because of this connection you’re blessed with. The understanding that it is no coincidence that this person is your brother and that person is your aunt, and that everything was part of a meticulous plan to teach us, show us, something.
When I was younger I had friends whose families went through a great deal – divorces, fathers having affairs, disabled siblings, early deaths. I used to watch them and thought to myself that I was lucky to have such a perfect family. As I grow older, I realised that there is no such thing as a perfect family. A perfect family requires perfect people, and newsflash; nobody is perfect. Later I came to an even bigger realisation. It is never meant to be perfect anyway. In fact, it is one of the great big tests in life, and how you tend to these relationships will determine whether they will be your saviour, or your curse.