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Cisi Eze: Family Is Overrated

Cisi Eze

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Lately, I have had conversations about family with people, and one thing I have come to realise is this: “Family, as it is, is overrated”. Sounds weird, aye? Nevertheless, this is a thought to toss around in your mind. It is often said that blood is thicker than water; however, different things like hate, resentment, anger, envy, to mention a few, can dilute it.

Family comprises of people we survive with… when surviving is the only choice we have. Family does not judge us. Family is loyalty, not necessarily blood. Most of us are in abusive, parasitic relationships with people all in the name of blood ties. Most of us are stuck with psychic vampires, and whenever we try to break free, they find the right words to blackmail us emotionally. They toss in guilt, fear, and obligation. “We would cut you off,” they say, to put us in check.

“Four walls do not make a home.” Family is home. Home is emotional, not necessarily geographical.

Home is that place between harsh society – the place you are compelled to bite more than you can chew, and the confines of your mind – the place you take it easy, one sip at a time.

Home is that place you take off uncomfortable shoes and itchy masks without the fear of being judged – it is a safe space. It is a place where you feel accepted without anyone judging you. Love makes it home. And “love makes your soul crawl out of its hiding place.”- Zora Neale Hurston. You display those parts of you society has branded ugly without fear. You have nothing to hide at home.

It is that place you can take off your wigs and belch loudly. At home, you can wear your boxers around, even when there are holes in it. If you do not get this in a house, you might not call it home.

Sometimes, home could be drama, because life has its vicissitudes.

Because home is mostly emotional, anywhere can be home. Anyone can be home, too.

Those people who see us for who we are – flaws, errors, faults, beauty – and go on to love, respect, and accept us are home. Those people who do not judge our innocuous choices are home. They are home because they are family. As I tell people, “It is not love when you need someone to change for you to be accepting of who they are.” Love does not come with a clause. Love does not come with terms and conditions.

Loyalty, love, and mutual respect makes us family, blood means we are “related”. If you are not getting these, it only makes sense that you leave. Never hide your pain. “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” – Zora Neale Hurston. We should not be so loving to love people that hate us. We are under no obligation to endure toxic relationships because of blood ties.

Many people out there share similar perspectives with us. The Universe has a way of bringing them our way. All we have to do is put ourselves in positions and situations where they would find us. The moment we are with them, everything we thought was weird about us would become normal, right even. What is normal is a function of consensus. Normal becomes right the same way a lie becomes true when it has been repeated many times.

P.S. Some of us claim our parents whooped us to the point we wondered if we were adopted. We must not repeat this mistake. Whatever we do, we must remain friends and confidants to our children. Let them trust us enough to talk to us, not “outsiders”. As Pythagoras stated, “Every relationship without friendship is bondage.” We must not be abusive parents. Domestic violence is domestic violence, regardless of people involved.

P.P.S Family as a social institution is bound to evolve as society evolves. Once upon a time, polygamy, having a large family, was the norm. But here we are today – most of us are subscribing to monogamy with two or three kids, not even four or five as some of our parents. This alone proves social change is real. Gladly, we have been logical and honest to the point of admitting large families are not beneficial to us in the 21st century. If the size of family has can evolved, we should expect family structure to evolve. Family could be father and father, with their children. It could be mother and mother, with their children. It could be father, with his children. It could be mother, with her children. It could be that older man or woman, with those children. It could be a group of people who have come together to support themselves because they truly love themselves.

Photo Credit: Noriko Cooper | Dreamstime

Cisi Eze is a Lagos-based journalist, writer, comic artist, and graphics designer.She feels strongly about LGBT+ rights, feminism, gender issues, and mental health, and this is expressed through her articles as a guest contributor on Bella Naija, her blog – Shades of Cisi, a podcast she co-presents – We Said It, and an online radio show – Stirring the Waters. Aside these, she has works on Kalahari Review, The Rustin Times, Outcast Magazine, Holaafrica, Mounting the Moon, 14: An Anthology of Queer Art Volume 1 and 2.Cisi’s art challenges existing societal norms.

13 Comments

  1. Nonso

    September 20, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    I totally agree! I have always said that if we pour out the same amount of love we share with our family members to our friends, our world will be a lot more peaceful. That cliche “Blood is thicker than water” is getting increasingly irrelevant today (see what’s happening with the Psquare brothers). While I believe family is an important social institution and a good place to experience love and affection, Siblings can be wired differently sometimes. It’s okay to have a friend that sticks closer than a brother or sister or father or mother. Nice one Cisi. Looking forward to reading the reactions to your wonderful piece.

  2. Ezinne

    September 20, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Family is indeed overrated Cisi. I have been stuck with one of such family and I know to cut off any “family” that doesn’t make me happy- Brother, sister, cousin 10 times removed or what not. Family is indeed home. Sometimes you find that you do not share a close bond with a sibling, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. We will all have to make our different ways in life and our family, whoever they are, will always be our solace. There”s no recipe. that blood we so talk about is actually not that thick.

  3. joan

    September 20, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    I totally agree.some friends are more family than actual family members.I’ll choose the few friends I have over family any day.sad to write

  4. artklub

    September 20, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    I agree. They say you can’t choose your family (even though I actually believe that we do choose our family before we are born so that our souls can evolve to the next level – whether good or bad experience). However, you can choose your friends, and create the kind of relationships that suit you best. Nice article.

  5. Sunshine

    September 20, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    I have been musing about this all week. I feel disconnected from my family. They don’t treat me like I am part of them. Yet my mum emotionally blackmailes me by saying that I have to keep seeking their attention and approval when I try to speak up about this. It is not healthy.

  6. bitumen

    September 21, 2017 at 8:29 am

    I see your point and i have also read somewhere that friendships become more important compared to family as people age but i think it depends. My family for example has a strong bond and even though we are all older now, we still find time to meet once a month for laughs and lunch/dinner in my parents place and we hold an annual family Christmas party every December in my parents place.

    However, i truly believe that regardless of DNA or blood bond , ones true family are the people who stand with you without doubt when everything goes wrong in your life. In my case, the people who stood and will stand by me are my family, in some other peoples case it may be their friends. There is no almighty formula to this thing. Its personal.

    Anybody who loves you for who you are and has your back no matter what is your family. Embrace them, love them, cherish them, and never ever let them go. In my case, my family is my family, in some other cases, friends can be family.

  7. Nicolae

    September 21, 2017 at 10:48 am

    I really don’t know how to relate to this article albeit let me tell my story. My mother has consistently frustrated my efforts at finding a partner. I turn 30 in a few weeks and I seem to be finding it difficult to forgive her for this. Its one complaint or the other. I have a lotg of bottled up emotions as I almost cannot discuss this with anyone. I understand her need for companionship but I cannot shut down my life and be with you forever. She says the guy will just come and marry me. Starting a friendship at 30 is quite challenging as I spend most of my time at work, let alone starting a relationship. If you try to have a decent conversation with her , she gets defensive and starts shouting. The few guys who have even attempted to come visiting were a bit frightened with the reception they got. as it was a bit hostile. I’m a very very patient person but I’m gradually being pushed to the wall. One of her friends tried asking her why I’m single and that she should give her my number…she has distanced herself from that friend. Someone with a similar experience please advice. I am recently considering moving to Canada because of all this however ill still prefer living here in Nigeria…..

    • yaga

      September 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Hi Nicolae, Your messages suggest u might be living in the same space with ur mum.maybe you should consider moving into your own place. We don’t get to choose our family, i also experienced a different situation with my mum. Growing up, she seemed very selfish and i felt she was particularly uncaring to me and neglected by her. Fastforward now, i am doing very well at work and she always calls to check up on me, like everyday telling me she has no one else(note that i am not the only child ). At first i was bitter abut it, but i have made my peace with it and come to accept her for who she is.I have come to realize that Everyone can’t be the way we want them to be (family and others alike), the best we can do is to accept them the way they are, try to make them better if possible,if not (let go of the parts of them we don’t like) and forge on. Some people are naturally selfish, seeking their own at the expense of others(some parents are this way), learn to stand ur ground especially if they are being unreasonable. Like children, parents will also push far with their behaviors to test how much you will take. I think at 30, you are grown enough to tell them off politely.

    • Jay

      September 21, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      You don’t have to move to Canada because of that, especially as you’ve said you still want to live in Nigeria. I suggest you tell her how you feel, if it makes no difference; quietly look for a bachelor or 1 bedroom apartment/condo and plan on when you’ll move out. You can spend a few months looking for the perfect place (location, price, etc), just start the process. I know for a fact moving out usually eases this. Just take your time and ensure you find the right place you’re capable of. Move out and you can visit your Mom during weekends. Don’t let stress and pressure from anyone force you into making a decision you don’t wholeheartedly want to make.

    • naima

      September 21, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      Hi
      Do yourself a favor!!!
      Move out and limit interactions with your mum.
      She is nothing but a selfish toxic being.

      And no,i am not saying this to just be a cyber rat.

      I wish i’d had people to advise me at your age.

      Until I woke up at age 40,single and realised that i’d allowed that selfish,cold,mean,horrible,manipulative woman called mother to control my life.

      I moved out at age 40. Got married at age 42. I didn’t even realise how emotionally battered I was by that woman.
      I only see her twice a year now and life couldn’t be sweeter.
      She is not allowed in my home except by invitation.

      Hmmmm…

      Family sha?

      One day I shall tell my story.

      Move out and start afresh.

      All the best.

    • Osa

      September 22, 2017 at 6:21 am

      @naima. I can relate. My mum is just a frigging bible bashing pretender. Really dont want to have much to do with her.
      She abused me emotionally asa child ans is just a horrible person.

  8. Yugo

    September 22, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    I beg to differ but I’m saying this from my admittedly limited perspective of my own family. My family has been with me through everything and I mean everything.

  9. Linda

    September 22, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    You write so beautifully, you know?

    Family really is who treats you like family not just blood ties.

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