Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Weird Families

I didn't get to post yesterday because I got home so late, but what I learned was that there is nothing more interesting than other people's weird or tragic family stories! I was at dinner with a group of ten people I had recently completed a months-long work project with, we all got along very well and the chatting was loud and congenial. It was a long table, so it was hard to talk to everyone at once; there were always between three and five conversations going on at any one time. Until, that is, someone near me mentioned obsessive behaviour and I revealed that my brother has obsessive-compulsive disorder. Suddenly I had everyone's undivided attention. All other conversations stopped as I was questioned about the manifestations of my brother's disorder and what caused it and how it affected me.

I used to think that I was the only one with a weird family and tragic childhood, but the more you get to know other people the more you find out that just about everyone has something. A mother lost to MS after years of slowly losing control of her body and mind. A cousin dying at 24 of anorexia. Years of sexual abuse by a family member. A father who threatens to shoot you if your mother leaves him. A father who turns out to be not your father after all. Most people have had something strange and horrible happen in their family, and I think it is quite normal that other people are fascinated by it. It makes them feel not so alone.

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