As in, made of the same stuff as you are, with the same fears and doubts and hopes and crazy bits and squishy bits?
Not just ‘Mum’ or ‘annoying brother’ or some sort of muted or better version of you. Actual individuals, with thoughts and emotions that go beyond what you see and who they were when you were growing up. People with interior worlds and a life that you don’t know about ( a sex life for starters. Sorry – we’ll never speak of it again).
People like -well, like You. All complicated and messy. Much more than the tags we give them might suggest.
I think I know my family better than they know themselves. I grew up with them – and seems to me that I can see things about them that they just can’t. From where I’m standing, they’re pretty straightforward. I may even have diagnosed a few of Their Issues, (lovingly of course). And yet – when they do the same thing to me – when they simplify me or give me a label or caricature me or think they know what’s best – it drives me completely mad.
How can anyone – least of all my family – understand? Surely the complicated splendour that is me, goes well beyond the limits of ‘eldest daughter’ or ‘over-intense’ or ‘religious but otherwise ok’.
I’m nothing like what they reflect back – both good and bad. NOTHING. LIKE. IT.
Which is why I’m shouting and jumping up and down.
Protesting, just a little too much.
Turning back into the teenager I thought I’d left behind.
I don’t like other people knowing me. It’s hard enough when it’s just a chance meeting and I’ve got my war-paint on. But family – well they’ve got your back catalogue. They’ve seen it all. Good stuff and – more often – bad. They’re not fooled. And whilst they get a lot wrong – there’s the tiniest possibility that they get some bits right. Which is very, very worrying indeed.