If you came from a happy family, I don’t think we’re going to get along very well. We might as well be speaking different languages. Or wearing different gang colors. Or living on different planets.
Here’s my problem with you: You came from a happy family and I didn’t. Yes, honeybunch, I realize that it is not rational, mature, nor healthy for me to resent you because of this, yet I do—with every howling cell of my tortured being. It is a deep, instinctual, animal hatred that transcends the boundaries of logic like a randy tiger busting out of a cheap bamboo cage.
I’m also painfully aware that it’s not your fault that you came from a good family and I didn’t, but it doesn’t matter—I still hate you and consider you to be unfairly advantaged. If there was a legal way for me to extract reparations from you, I would not hesitate to bleed you dry.
Despite all the pampered, sheltered, delicate, frail, insta-triggered, special-snowflakey, microaggressive whining I constantly hear from spoiled bougie brats about “privilege,” I never hear about how having a good family is the highest privilege of all.
This chafes my white male cisgender ass because like many others—far too many, I regret to say—I did not enjoy the privilege of coming from a loving, supportive, cohesive family. Mine was hateful, combative, and ultimately fractured beyond all hope of repair. That’s not your problem and I don’t expect nor want your sympathy or assistance. But if you keep chattering about my theoretically easy life, every so often it gives a guy the urge to rip your tongue straight out of your throat—theoretically speaking, of course.
For most people, depending on their family for emotional and financial support is as familiar as breathing. It is the default mode. That default mode was robbed from me. I’ve been a one-man tightrope act walking over an abyss during a blizzard my entire adult life, and frankly I resent that fact.
I can remember both parents yelling and screaming and hitting, but I don’t ever remember either one of them making me laugh.
I didn’t talk to my mom for the last five years of her life. When she died, my brother, sister, and I all agreed that the only thing we didn’t feel bad about her death was the fact that we didn’t feel bad about it.
But that was ages ago. I haven’t talked to my brother in four years and my sister in seventeen. They hate me and I hate them and we’re all broken off and split apart and atomized and separated and incommunicado.
When I see a happy family in real life, it still has an air of unreality to me. If you came from a happy family, everything that seems “positive” and “inspirational” to you seems “fake” and “dishonest” to me because it doesn’t reflect my experience. And when I tell you about my life it seems unrealistically “depressing” and “angry” to you, while it merely feels “normal” to me.
I resent the untold millions of people who are unexceptional or even subpar in every possible way, yet they had a lavish family network propping them up like a scarecrow through every financial and emotional storm that life threw at them.
I resent the ones who’ve been junkies for 30 years and whose parents still pay their rent.
I resent the ones who are able to couch-surf between relatives for most of their adult lives.
I resent the ones who got the free houses and the free cars and the free tuition and the free inheritances.
I resent the ones who fucked up a million times more than I did yet whose parents bailed them out every time.
I resent that you go to family reunions while I count the years since I last talked to my brother or sister.
I resent the fact that you have the luxury of becoming emotionally immobilized by things I can’t even afford to let upset me. I’m sorry you broke your fingernail this morning, darling, but I’m dealing with a severed limb here, and it’s bleeding all over the carpet.
I especially resent the ones who act shitty toward their great families and don’t realize how lucky they’ve been. I am often tempted to slap them silly—again, theoretically speaking.
I suppose it may be simultaneously inelegant and juvenile and unmanly to be griping about these things at this point in my life. What use is it to pick forever at scabs? Then again, I suppose it may merely be a sign of how deeply it all affected me. There’s an evolutionary instinct still tugging at my innards, telling me that a basic need remains unmet. Imagine telling someone to “just get over” being hungry. It’s not that easy. I’d like to think I’m above it, but it’s like trying to defy the law of gravity. I will be dragged down by it anyway.
So I still carry the resentment around inside me like emotional shrapnel, my voice still raspy from choking on tears that dried long ago.
You cannot be blamed for having no idea what it’s like to endure not only a bad Christmas, but a bad rest of the year. You can’t relate to living in that one house on the block where the parents were always yelling, especially in the summertime through screen windows so that everyone can hear. You have no sense memory of tensing every muscle in your little body just to endure the hatred that pulsates through your household like an electromagnetic wave.
Try not to hate the fact that I hate you, because either way I’m going to hate you anyway. Don’t take it personally. It’s a bad-family thing. You wouldn’t understand.
So don’t resent me for resenting you. If you were me, you’d resent you, too.