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My family. I blurred my face too because I was 15 and looked like shit.
I'm in my mid-twenties. Since the age of 18, I've probably lived at home for around a year. And since moving out, I've probably only returned to the fam for the odd religious holiday.
Like a lot of lads my age, I rarely feel any compulsion to visit to the house I grew up in. The family who raised me may be blood, but apart from a last name, we don't really have much in common. Our relationship sits in a vague hinterland, and, when I really think about it, it kind of bums me out.
I never had many problems living under the same roof as my parents. Like a lot of shitty teenagers, my Mum used to grill me for not having a job and playing Battlefield in my pants, but that was about it. Time took care of that one.
Eventually, I secured gainful employment and moved out. My Mum was happy. She gets to go on day trips to the North West where I promise her dinner but then make her pay because I've spent all my wages on beer that's definitely giving me tits.
As for the rest of my family, for as long as I can remember I've always looked for just about any reason to not spend time with them. I've battled with the idea that maybe I'm just a terrible person who pushes people away, and I'm sure my Mum has too, but when you have a job, a good group of friends, and a flat that's not got newspaper covering the windows, it's easy to dismiss that thought.
But in quiet moments, when I do think about it, I get worried. I figure I should be past this stage. It was supposed to be an angsty adolescent thing; something that went hand-in-hand with being an introvert with a floppy fringe and a Taking Back Sunday t-shirt. But I stopped being a teen seven years ago, so now what's my excuse?
Me, face unblurred, getting pissed in a field.
I guess it's that I don't really care.
I have nothing in common with them. The majority of my family have worked adult jobs for 20 plus years and even the younger members have started their own families. They talk about mortgages while I'm more concerned with who will let me use their Netflix login. I seem to be part of a demographic who won't, or rather, can't, grow up, and it's distanced me from all the relatives who have.
The only reason it doesn't get to me is because I know I'm not alone. I speak to friends who also rarely return to their family. All of my mates feel they have no chance of owning a house, nor do they have any immediate plans to get married or have kids. Our economic prospects are bleak, unmooring us from careers, long terms homes and even our families. By 2025, over half of 20 to 39-year-olds will rent. That's pretty bleak, so I guess that's why we'd rather get pissed than worry about putting our meagre wages towards a mortgage.
And when you don't worry about that, you don't worry about all those other markers of adulthood. Like not being a dismissive prick to the people who raised you. Still, some people think this is perfectly normal. Writing on Psychology Today, Carole Bennett said:
"It is taboo thinking that one should not like their family. We wouldn't dare tell anyone that we feel this way as...nothing is more important than family. Yes, maybe in the big, fairy tale picture that's true, but ask this simple test question: If they weren't your sister, son, father or whomever, would they be your friend? It's OK if the answer is no."
It's a fair point, but also kind of depressing. I'm not sure I want to keep ignoring my family just because I don't really 'get' them.
So what's my solution? Well, I guess I'm going to force myself to visit them; to talk to them, to turn our differences into topics of conversation.
Or at least I'll give it a go. And if you're struggling to connect with your family, you should give it a go too. And if you fail miserably, it's not the end of the world. At least you'll have your mates. After all, they are *vomits* the family we chose for ourselves.
And if I fail to re-connect with them, I still don't think I'd ever totally cut ties. However, if they read this, they'll probably make that decision for me.
Words by Matthew Cooper
Chosen for YouChosen for You
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