Letting Go of Family (Dis)honour
I cannot imagine a family member saying ‘I love you, but I do not like you' and that being OK. It feels like the equivalent of cultural suicide!
In my Lebanese culture, paradise lies under the feet of my mother while family honour towers above my head. My social standing is judged and determined by the surname I labour under. My skies are both limitless and bound by family ties. I can ask the world from my parents and yet my universe must accord with their sensibilities. Rejection of family is almost a sin.
Don’t get me wrong, I love (and not just like) my immediate family. Even though we often have different views, there is more that unites us than divides. No one can take their place without a serious fight on their hands!
But what if I had been born into a violent family? What if they hated women, especially independent ones like me? Would I accept my fate and suffer, just to appease the culture I was born into? Nope, no way! I’d give them up as swiftly as Paul did his blood relatives in Illinois. Sometimes, despite what our culture tells us, letting go of destructive family ties is the most responsible and honourable thing to do for all involved.
Letting go of family does not always mean losing family. Like Paul, my definitions since moving to Australia have found new meaning. My late auntie Mary is of Scottish origin. She was the first Aussie friend we made; the one who took us on our first ever library trips and taught us how to make chocolate eggs. My sister Sarah is of British origin. She is my closest Canberran friend, the one who understood my chronic pain like no one else; holds my hand when words grow too heavy; frets over me if 2 weeks go by without a call. My brother is John, of Greek origin; the one who has a kind word, a hug and smile for every event and outing; the one who makes sure I’m safe to get home.
I try to think of how the last twenty years would have been without my ‘also family’. How lonely my life could’ve been had I stuck to my culture which tells me to value the thick ties of family above the softly woven threads of friendship.
Without them, I’d have fewer reasons to hope; to smile; to dream.
And above all, to stay.