You Can Love Your Family But You Don’t Have To Be Defined By Them


I come from a culture that puts family first; above all logic, above all personal needs and desires, pretty much above all practicality because that’s just how it is and how it’s always been.

They’re older. They know better. They brought you into this world, they pay for your education and a roof over your head. They own you. You’re nothing without them.

I come from a culture that also gives more right to men than women and gives more respect to ‘older’ siblings than younger siblings — of course, I’m the youngest and I happen to be a girl — which in my family is the epitome of double-standards, repression and zero common-sense.

My dad has always been a very traditional and controlling man, very prideful of the fact that he’s a ‘man’ and loves enforcing ridiculous rules on the family just because he can, just because he knows no one can tell him no. He would always remind us of all the favors and all the things he’s doing for us as if it’s not normal for a father to take care of his own family.

My brother definitely had more freedom as a child because he was a ‘boy’ and he could get away with more things. Like dating, like speaking up, like traveling with friends, like smoking, like asking for space when he needs it — all these rules never applied to me because I’m a girl and I’m young and I’m not allowed to date, try new things or ask for my space lest I do something that’s frowned upon, lest I do something that could aggravate my dad.

I grew up living in fear and with a family that made it okay for me to be mistreated, a family that made it okay for me to always come second and accept it gracefully. I grew up witnessing so many conflicting behaviors that never made sense to me and I realized that I was being manipulated, forced to live a life I don’t love, asked to be someone I’m not, forced to be perfect in a house full of imperfect people.

There comes a moment in your life when you realize that you don’t have to be like your family. You don’t have to listen to them and you don’t have to believe them.

There comes a moment in your life when you realize that they don’t know better, they’re not wiser and they don’t know what’s best for you.

There comes a moment in your life when you have to be okay with being associated with your family but not necessarily connected to them.

Family is important but so are you.

Your voice. Your needs. Your freedom. Your dreams. Your desires. Your future. Your life. They’re yours and yours only.

They can’t take that way from you. They can’t force you to be like them. They can’t make you someone you’re not.

It’s time to stop feeling guilty for detaching from your family if they’re not helping you grow. It’s time to fight for your freedom, for an exit, for a life where you can redefine everything they’ve manipulated, everything they took away and everything they told you that made you believe that you’re not good enough.

Your family will always be your family, they’ll always be a part of your life, but it’s okay to think of your family as a house of memories as you continue to look for the home they couldn’t give you. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Rania Naim

Writing makes me feel alive. Words heal me.

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