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Antagonizing One Self

I’m tired, I really am. This definition of being family has really changed drastically for me over the last couple years. It’s still something I find myself conflicted with even at this age. Even though, it’s probably not as harsh as others familial relationships it is still something that crosses me as a struggle from time to time. I’m still not sure where I want to start with this, but it’s a history…

Today, I get a phone call at 10am from my uncle asking me to go fix the internet at his place. My response to him was, “I’m busy, I don’t know when I’ll be free” I know that my grandma will come later in the day and ask me to go over there and fix her granddaughter’s computer. My response would be a verbal onslaught of, fuck no, get someone else to do it, I’m busy, I want to rest, and tell that bitch (my aunt) to get someone else to fix it because I don’t have the time of day to bother with them. I already gave them some face when I went over and fixed it for them last week, the computer was hit with a worm. I didn’t live up to my last statement, prior to fixing their computer last time, “If it breaks again and you ask me to fix it, I’ll fucking it break myself so no one needs to fucking use it.” I gave them more than enough of my time and respect.

I don’t hate my grandma or anything, but I’m tired of seeing her own family expecting her to do all of the leg work, for god sakes she’s an old lady. My mom’s older sister always having my grandma come over to pick up her family’s mail, even though my aunt no longer works anymore. My cousin’s (daughters of the same aunt) still has their shit mailed over here, which are normally packages and my grandma has to pick it up. Yet, in the end I feel like I’m the bad guy for telling my grandma I don’t want to fix their problem. In case you’re getting confused it’s two different aunts I’m talking about. The one with the computer problem I’ll call A and the one with the one having my grandma doing chores for her will be B.

At one point in the distant past I did get along with my mom’s side of the family not so much now. I realized my outlook in life is a lot different then theirs and that their “use” of me is just “use”. I’m guessing now that I’m older I tired of the BS of translating everything and fixing everything for them. They’ve become solely dependent on me, a total of 4 families that I have to help. None really has shown me gratitude or has taken my advice seriously and still expect me to be respectful of their wishes. When they migrated to the US I realized their priorities of quality time was never spending it with family, it was always about mahjong and money. It was always about money and nothing more complex about it. I remember one time I was so fed up with it I flipped the whole table over while they were playing a game.

When they first immigrated over to the US. I got along with them fine. We would talk and chat; it was fun. When they started working more and on their off time they would gamble. Even the kids my age would take a swing at the table. To me this is just a waste of time, day in and day out they just wanted to play and win some money. This is what they considered passing time. This model is extremely prevalent in aunt B’s family. When they moved out, I noticed she worked all the time. Her daughters worked all the time, not because they needed the money, is so they can gather more materialistic things; it sickened me. Their definition of success is the procurement of fancy things and I realized how shallow my cousins really were, they had to have the nicest phone, get a new computer, and spend their money partying. All of this they got, but at the same time not a sense of decency to every pick up their own mail (they still have their mail directed to my address) and everything that’s needed to be done in the house has to be done by my grandma. I told them time and time again that she’s our grandma and not our maid. I once told my aunts that her daughters were wasting their time working restaurant jobs for scrap money when they should be putting their time into school and networking to find better prospects after work. Right now my cousin is out looking for work and my aunt keeps asking me to hook her up with something. My answer to her is, I don’t, we’re in separate fields. She should have spent her time networking oppose to waitress tables for money for trivial things.

While getting to aunt A, she immigrated here later than my other aunts. She and her daughter migrated here not too many years ago. She was married to my uncle (my grandma’s only son), in case you’re not familiar with Chinese culture, sons are important as they carry on the family name. My grandfather treated his granddaughter with much more esteem then the rest of us all cause she carried the family name. Though the granddaughter at the time age 7 didn’t really care for my grandparents, she was pretty much a little brat. She will tell my grandmother to go away whenever she’s trying to help her, but when’s scared of being home alone or hungry she would call her over. After my grandfather passed my aunt was a complete bitch (not like she wasn’t before) to my grandmother, always yelling at her, finding any reason to yell at her really. Even though she’s hardly around to take care of her daughter cause on her free time she would go to the casino or do something else, while leaving her bratty daughter in the care of my grandmother. I think my grandmother has put up with a lot of her shit and still don’t get much respect for her. At the time my uncle and aunt A, after my grandfather passed she basically kicked my grandmother out and now she’s living in an old folks home.

I guess my grandma is more mature than me in most ways because she still cares for them, me not so much. I feel bad for telling my grandma I’m not going to help them because I don’t respect them. There is a fine line between, helping someone and basically just doing something for someone. I even told my mom, I don’t get respect much from her family, they just expect me to be some kind of dog and do their work for them. I might sound a little demanding here, but one reason I don’t like helping them anymore is they don’t have respect for me, they’ve never seen me as family, I mean what kind of family member only talks to you cause they have something that needs to be done? I often just stay quiet and indifferent around my mom’s side. Maybe, that demeanor has pushed me away from them, even more so for my cousins. I don’t think these bounds will ever strengthen, at least I don’t see myself putting the effort into it. I’ve seen to exhausted all that.

When my grandma told me today, “but they’re family” to me today. It struck a cord in me. I use to say it a lot when I was younger, “don’t worry about it, we’re family” and then I’ll do things my jolly way, but not anymore. So much has changed then.

As a child I grew up mostly around my dad’s side of the family. They didn’t hold me to such high esteem because I wasn’t really anything special. Some of the adults thought I was mildly retarded or something, lazy, will never amount to much. This was when I was basically ten years old. It was when I was twelve, when I was in China and met my mom’s side that I had the influence to make more of myself. They didn’t care for what I was really, I had fun with them and I thought, I had people in my life that I can make proud, something to that nature. That was when my confidence started to grow. My dad’s side took noticed and I was praised and a lot of things they thought became irrelevant. Not like they tried to get themselves in the good with me and I never really felt bitter about about their take on me. However, as I got older they treated me more of an adult, whenever I visit my uncles will come out to greet me and actually have a conversation with me.

I wonder how my familial tides shifted like this at times. My cousins on my dad’s side will not hesitate to say hi to me, ask me if I want to hang out from time to time, forget that we’re family and act like friends. I really don’t know how my views have change since then. I really don’t know how all this came to be. I really don’t know how things will be in the future, will I be somehow trapped into this weird cycle when I have my own…

-David M.