So yesterday was Easter Sunday which meant: Family Time. I married into a huge family. I come from a very small family who have not been close for many years. I would love to say that I was welcomed with open arms into my husband’s family but I would be lying. They adore him and in all honesty I feel that I have never been deemed ‘good enough’ for him.
My husband is the golden boy. He was Mr. Popular at school and oozes charm with all those he meets – why he ‘chose’ me I’ll never quite know. He walks into a room and can make small talk with anyone in there. I am quite the opposite. Unless I know you really well, I probably come across as withdrawn, shy or maybe just damn rude. I don’t mean to be, I really don’t – I just don’t know how to make small talk in social situations when I am forced into a situation I would rather not be in. If I know you, I am the life and soul, the wild one. The one who you would never, ever believe suffers from social anxiety.
I have always felt inadequate in the company of his family. Growing up, I was always a child who should be ‘seen and not heard’ and was taught, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” My husband’s family do not embrace this mantra. Not one little bit. They are blunt, they are brutally honest and they gossip. I’m all for an honest opinion, if I ask for it but someone giving their opinions without being asked, in my opinion is just plain rude.
It’s not unusual to hear the women of his family say to each other, “Change your shoes, they make your legs look fucking awful!” or “What the hell have you done to your hair? It adds years to you!” I sit there mortified – I would never dream of speaking to people like this but in his family it’s just how they are.
So yesterday meant a massive family gathering at a local-ish restaurant. I had been dreading it for several weeks, as I always do when I learn that ‘family events’ are looming. I constantly feel that I am being judged at these occasions and just the thought of them puts me on edge. My husband being the social butterfly that he is, flits around the room leaving man-hugs, back slapping and charm in his wake. I sit there, glancing surreptitiously at the clock, willing the time to pass. I can honestly say that the only members of ‘the family’ that I can hold any form of conversation with are those that have ‘married in’ and even then, I struggle.
It was announced at the beginning of the meal that there was to be ‘No Facebook!’ as not all members of the family had been invited, due to yet another rift! *insert eye roll* This is a family who has more fallouts that the characters of Eastenders – I really cannot handle the drama!
Like all social situations that make me feel awkward and uncomfortable, I turn the situation into an opportunity to people watch. I love to observe people and pick up on the little nuances that others may miss.
I watched the latest addition to the family laughing alongside ‘The
Bitches Women’ of the family. She was joking about how uncomfortable she felt when she first met the family. They laughed hard and loud and I watched with dismay at this poor woman who sat nursing her baby with a smug look of acceptance on her face. She really believes that having a baby with a member of the family has brought her acceptance. This woman is lovely, friendly and seems genuine. She also has mental health problems which is no secret to anyone in the family. I watched with disgust as the women laughed along with her, knowing full well that their nickname for her is ‘One Flew…’
I have avoided people (mostly women) like this my entire life, yet somehow I have managed to marry into a family full of characteristics that I despise. I could jump on the bandwagon and fit right in but to be honest I’d rather rip out my fingernails with pliers.
As if 3 hours in a restaurant wasn’t enough, it was decided that certain members of the family would travel to the family pub for further socialising (oh joy!)
As we sat about in one of the small snug rooms with us all crammed in, the headache that had been growing all day was intensifying. I sat sipping my drink, half-listening to the conversation when I realised they were discussing another ‘shunned’ family member’s mental health – “Well, what do you expect, he’s bipolar!” said one of them. I smiled politely, wanting desperately to leave. They are all fully aware that I have bipolar disorder.
At this point, one of them looked at me and piped up, “Fucking hell you should all form a bipolar club!” *cue cackling* I laughed and looked at my husband for help. It went unnoticed. I swear to God for the next hour, they sat berating various members of the family (who weren’t present in the room) and said no less than 5 times, “Perhaps they’re bipolar!” followed by raucous laughter.
Once, I can just about tolerate. I am not precious about my illness but 6 times over the course of an hour – you can go fuck yourself. I promptly left. Oh well, I’m sure my exit gave them plenty of material to pick and gossip over.
I aim to please.