Yesterday I posted this as my Facebook status:
With so many postings on social media about perfect lives and perfect lifestyles, today I break the mould. I’m an independent lady with self respect (and cats). My family by which I mean my parents (one deceased) have failed to support me from childhood. I have gone through the diagnosis of idiopathic primary pulmonary artery hypertension, I have failed at ivf, I had to take a break from medicine to hold it together. I have been blindsided by my 17 year old marriage breaking down. I have turned to alcohol and yoga. I took an overdose when my marriage ended was admitted to a mental health unit for 10 weeks, I have had a 15 year break from medicine and gone back as a compassionate and competent GP , as I know what it’s like to be told the damage to your body is irreparable, I know what it feels like to have nothing when all hope is lost. I strive to be honest, not to convince you I’m perfect. I strive to say this is me and I am enough. Disclaimer: I have been honest and open about every medical problem I have and have been extensively evaluated to say I am safe in practice to make a difference. I’m grateful to so many here on fb Claire Workman and Ren Slaven, who were there for me at times of crisis whilst my blood family just did nothing, said nothing. I’m not a trouble maker, just troubled I guess. But I have beat the odds and if I can prevent one human being going through the crisis I did, it’s worthwhile. Strength comes from within as does validation. Dig. Dig deep.
The events that led up to this post started mid-week with stress at work whilst feeling unwell from a combination of menopausal symptoms and side effects from my pulmonary hypertension medications. Still I struggled on. At the weekend I reached out for support to be subjected to one word responses, when I directly asked for advice it was refused and I was, unintentionally comically, referred to speak to “a nurse.” Please note this exchange was with a close family member, not a doctor involved in my care nor someone who works in the healthcare system.
Basically the support I was seeking was being outsourced. Why? Because of selfishness, apathy, and laziness. What do you call someone who is devoid of feelings or attachments beyond what you can do for them?
Ironically my Facebook post was liked and commented on multiple times. The energy and outpouring from fb friends was heartening but made me sadder that my own family are incapable of showing me compassion and empathy. Something I do day in day out for strangers, my own blood just don’t have it in them to do the same for me, to find a few kind words of support. This has been the way for years. My feelings were never valued imagine being savagely told off when you’re blowing candles out for your 6th birthday. I have the photos. I still remember what I was thinking, what I felt.
Every major moment in my life is marked by unrelenting indifference from my family. Admissions to university and hospital, marriage breakdown and more recently work stress. I have spent years in therapy wondering what is so wrong with me that they feel nothing for me but contempt. I finally realised it’s not me, it’s them. The overwhelming misogyny of my culture and poor parenting over generations has produced a cohort of insensitive, self-serving and indifferent people. They do not care about anything unless it directly pertains to them. They will take whatever support and affection you have to offer, say the words they’re here for you and then turn their backs. I’m not a frequent visitor or caller, I live miles away from relatives. I’m not the kind to drop in or even call on the phone and bother them. Yet my existence is too much for their busy lives.
Criticism and running other people down dominates over love and support. There is no understanding or compassion. I come from a terrible family. At least I used to. I have untethered myself from them. I want nothing but distance.
If you cannot show compassion to make things better for someone who is your child/sister then at least don’t make things worse. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t lie about being there or providing support. I would appreciate it if my presence was in the past tense. I am no longer part of your legacy. It’s easier to handle the bad times without your condemnation, criticism and judgements. I am more effective, successful and stronger without you, all of you.