Dysfunctional families

“War doesn’t determine who’s right. War determines who’s left.” Unknown

Watch enough – read enough – live enough. At some point it becomes clear that most of us are the products of dysfunctional families.

My youth defines dysfunctional.

My father graduated from Yale. My mother, a product of the depression, never got the opportunity to finish high school.

My father, at best, was an agnostic. A true Wasp.

My mother, at her worst, was a radical Catholic. All non-Catholics are going to hell. If it feels good, it must be a sin.

The clash of these two disparate backgrounds never coalesced enough to raise the four of us with one definitive sense of direction.

For me, it is still a great mystery why these two ever decided to cohabit and pro create.

About my 13th birthday I began to realize that my parents were different. I didn’t understand how or why, but I just knew something was wrong.

They didn’t physically abuse us. Emotionally, they crippled a few of us and absolutely destroyed one of us. Three of us are still alive. Each of us, to some degree, still suffer and we always will.

I finally made peace with myself and my parents. I came to realize they were merely the products of their own dysfunctional families and that they absolutely did the best they could with what they had. Can’t ask for much more.

One thing I can’t make peace with is the human fault that perpetuates dysfunctional relationships. My God, don’t you think that as a species we should have figured it by now.

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.” Mark Twain

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Dysfunctional families

  1. Bob. Your blog really struck a nerve with me. You know, as we have talked, the only difference between family and friends, if you can dump your “friends” if they turn out to really not be friends. (Or just occasionally ‘break up’) …..inside joke, folks. Family, however…you are kind of stuck with, to an extent, but the same problems exist.

    I was talking with my wife about this, this morning and she said something very astute, for which she is known. She said….”You know, all human relationships are pretty complex, and unnatural.” And, it is true. We are not born to understand others behavior, etc. Unless we were taught, at some level, to respect another’s opinion, or show some respect, courtesy, etc., then you have…..well, Chicago, and anyplace with a large population of Asians. (that’s another subject and I shall refrain due to your racism filters.)

    So, if relationships are complex to begin with…then, we have the situation of a family, where everyone is in the same place a lot, and if you have a couple of Nazis at the helm….it gets pretty close up in there. Now, that I have rambled…….

    My upbringing had similarities to yours in that my parents were fundamental Christians. Nazarenes. No dancing, no movies, darn is a bad word, no Sunday purchases, no sex until marriage,( and sometimes after, I hear) basketball is out because of the skimpy uniforms, public swimming pools verboten with all the scantily clad folks. (can you imagine it they had seen some of today’s thongs???) It makes my head swim to think of it……ooops get that picture out of my mind. Anyway, growing up, we all knew we were going to Hell every week, and every week brought on more guilt, more pain, threats of dismemberment…… Religion sucks. I am a believer in a Creator, because I just can’t swallow the “happy accident” theory, but do NOT believe in organized religion of any kind. Most of the world’s problems right now have some basis in some kind of religion, don’t they? So, I share your pain, my friend.

    And, yes, at some point, we do like Vickie said, and we get past it, and try to forget it. But, bits and pieces are there to crop up at the worst times. Whether we like it or not. I raised my kids differently, so they hate me for different reasons. 🙂

    Summing up your theme….dysfunctional has one definition which says (from Dictionary.com) “behaving or acting outside social norms.” What the hell is a social “norm?” My opinion is there is NO functional family, in the truest sense. Some are just more ****** up than others. With that, I must go try to do something “normal.”


  2. Vickie says:

    I understand completely what you are saying and I’m amazed (and, then again not since we’re the same age) that you reached the same conclusion that I did many, many years ago to just let it go and redefine myself. They did the best they could with what they had. I guess that’s our reward when we get to be adults…we get to make our own decisions that work for US. With my family, you were an outcast and a horrible person if you didn’t play their games. I still see people like that and just shake my head. Conclusion: Some of us are making it past those times and enjoying life. Hopefully, others will stand up for their rights as a person.


  3. harry bellerby says:

    I just thought my family was crazy, dysfunctional was a step up. I have given up all hope for a better past.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.