Friday, January 6, 2012

A Is For Ancestors

Ah yes, where to start.

I don't think I like most of my ancestors. I mean, I can't help but acknowledge that they are my ancestors, I mean duh. And while the fact that I am here can tell me some things (like for example somewhere along the line they survived the bubonic plague long and successfully enough to keep the line going, as I am of European descent and I simply wouldn't be here if they hadn't), I've never really understood what the fuss is about. I think, most people just automatically, of course, how could you think otherwise, honor their ancestors because they come from decent people.

My family isn't close. I realized for the first time not that long ago that I actually have three Cousin Toms. The generations are skewed, and long, and so growing up none of my cousins were any where near my age. That also means that I have pretty much no experience of grandparents, besides maybe a single blurry memory of my mother's father when I was very young.

If you have been over to my other blog, Tetanus Burger, you know that my father was a hoarder. You will also know that that was caused by what can only be a serious case of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, which, before you go thinking you know what that is, is most emphatically not the same thing as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCPD is a personality disorder, which as far as I can tell, pretty much just comes down to a fundamental brokenness in the brain. The person with it cannot see that they have it, and in fact, a lot of the time, will not only deny that there is anything whatsoever wrong with them, but will also adamantly insist that it's the entire rest of the world who is wrong. And they believe it. With my own eyes I have seen my father confronted with a reality that did not fit with his belief. He looked at that reality, and then repeated his belief, over and over, louder and louder, though the proof that he was wrong was right in front of him. In his world if reality and belief were in conflict reality lost. This also means that people with personality disorders kind of don't get that the people around them are people and not extensions of their own world, or rather their own selves, since that is the same thing to them. And when you come right down to it that rather precludes empathy. Don't forget, other personality disorders include things like narcissism and sociopathy.

Speaking of narcissism, yeah. That's the other one that runs in the family. It's been fun here, lately, and the word that keeps coming to mind is unfortunately toxic, as in, my family is toxic.

So, if you're a family member and you're reading this, well, that's what you get for snooping on a Witch's blog, isn't it. Well, unless you're Cousin L, you're cool. You're about the only one, though.

What I know of my grandparents isn't good. I suppose I should confess straight up that I have no problems speaking ill of the dead. I've been rather enamoured of truth, lately. My father's father, well, he might have been all right, but he died young, and by that I mean in like 1934. My father's mother, well, I'm pretty sure I know where the hoarding gene came from. I've heard some atrocious stories about the state of her house.

On my mother's side I don't know much about my grandmother, though I have the impression she was pretty controlling. As for my grandfather, well, I don't really care if it was accepted practice at the time to hit your children with your belt, or to give your daughter bread soaked in milk for dinner, while you sat there eating steak; I consider that abuse and neglect, and so I consider you a bastard.

So really, I don't want much to do with them, my literal ancestors. I certainly am not inclined to put up an altar to them. In fact, my father in particular (though he's not technically dead yet) was such a miserly bastard that I really don't want anything to do with him again, ever. Not in this life and not in any other lives. I've considered, even, some kind of ritual to sever myself from him, karmically, I guess you'd say. I don't want to bump into him ever again.

I don't care if that's harsh. It's true. One of the things you don't get growing up in a hoarder's house is space, not physical space, not personal space, not emotional space; there is no ease at all to anything. It is all, always and entirely about the hoarder. And so there is certainly no space, none at all, for a voice.

I've found mine now. And I will scream and curse if I feel like it.


Rose said...

I guess the best thing about my Ancestors is that the truly disfunctional ones are back a ways. My Great Great Grand Aunt set fire to a house - with some one in it.... Her brother my Great Great Grandfather had a nice long list of criminal behaviour and was a rat catcher. i can laugh that his children changed his profession on their marriage certificates, the most amusing being the one where they turned him into a Gamekeeper... I feel proud that they moved on and did well but I also feel pity for the abject povery my great great and his siblings lived with. The case notes where his brother stole bread because he was starving and had had no work in 17 weeks are heartbreaking.

Time and distance is a good thing when dealing with Ancestors...

John Webb said...

I've recently been finding Ancestry quite fascinating, and have actually been keen enough to cough up a subscription to the website of the same name.

You must have seen the TV programs, 'Who Do You Think You Are', now screened in several countries. There are also similar programs, on satellite and cable, such as 'Find My Past'.

When you start thinking about it, there's a lot more to it, and you begin to notice how widespread, and universal, these ideas are.

Many 'primitive' religions incorporate types of ancestral worship - in various forms. Some families, even today, name children after a deceased grandparent, following some kind of belief about reincarnation.

I've even come across some research done at Oxford, by psychologists, asking why people are fascinated by their ancestors - they claim the fascination may come from deep questions we all have, wondering about what death is, and what lies beyond - what happened to our ancestors will eventually happen to us.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

"Family" is overrated, I've always found. Treasure whichever ones are genuinely nice to you. Don't give any place in your life to the ones who are bastards. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to figure that out.

Anonymous said...

My mother's a hoarder, my grandmother was a hoarder, and guess what I'll be someday. I hear ya on the no space, no voice thing big time.

I get tired of how we are supposed to utterly revere our family. How our family is the only people who will be with you forever. How family should be like a snuggly warm blanket filled with puppies and love.

BAH. I'm sucked dry and I'm tired of it.