Here is something I wrote a while back, but never got around to posting. It’s very personal and it’s partly just me venting. I don’t always feel this way. I do care about my family and feel relatively close to them. Still, I’m uncertain what I want or can realistically expect from family. Since writing the below comments, my parents have moved back to the town I live in. But I’m not sure how much that changes things. I feel that with 20 years of long distance relating there just has been an opportunity lost and I don’t know if it can be regained. I know that maybe from an objective standpoint I shouldn’t be so critical of others, but when I’m really depressed this is just how I feel. So, this is me being emotionally honest.
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This post is more personal than what I’ve recently been writing about. I’ve been feeling somewhat disconnected lately or rather I’ve been feeling more disconnected. It’s partly just depression, but it goes beyond that.
On the personal level, I’ve had a growing sense of disconnection in the past 5 or so years.
An aspect of it was that my oldest brother moved away seeking a career and then my second oldest brother moved away because of family. As the years have gone by, my connection with them has grown less and less. They both have their own lives and family seems secondary. I understand that and I’m not blaming them. I used to be angry at my second oldest brother because he started becoming distant as soon as he married and his wife was jealous of the close relationship we had at the time. I still have some bitterness towards her, but now I mostly feel indifferent. Whatever connection I had with him is mostly gone and isn’t likely to ever return.
Added to this is the fact that my parents have lived halfway across the country (in South Carolina) for the last 20 years. I’m living in the Midwest which is where my parents are from. We moved around a fair amount growing up and the reason was mostly for my dad’s career. That is how they ended up in SC. Talking on the phone and seeing them a couple times a year doesn’t really create a close bond. I feel like I barely know anyone in my family anymore. Years of distance aren’t easily bridged.
Another aspect of it was that a few years ago I was trying hard to connect. I dated some at the time. Despite my serious intentions, I seemed to meet women who either were unable or unwilling to commit. I also made a new friend around that time. I connected well with him in many ways, but it became clear that he didn’t fundamentally understand me. I realize fundamental understanding is rare. I have another friend who is from my childhood and we have a very strong connection. I suspect most people go their whole lives without ever having a deep connection of any sort.
This brings me to the less personal level. My depression makes me very sensitive to all of this, but my experience doesn’t appear to be atypical. People seeking careers and constantly moving around is quite normal as far as I can tell. My second oldest brother’s lifestyle also seems normal. He got married and had some kids. His immediate family became his life and everything he does revolves around it. This isn’t how traditional cultures worked. People didn’t move around that much, and so one’s immediate community and extended family were as much a part one’s everyday sense of family.
However, America was built on a very transitory lifestyle that demanded a more transitory style of relating. The conservative ideal of family values focuses solely on the immediate family and this is the social structure of our society. The immediate family is required to be the glue that holds all of society together. Sadly, it isn’t capable of serving such a function on its own. Older people still remember a time of community and extended family. For instance, my parents grew up amidst close relationships of family and neighbors. My parents are of the generation that helped put the nail in the coffin of America’s dying sense of community, but what they don’t realize is that the idealization of the immediate family was the very nail. Of course, it began before that generation. I only point them out as they like to blame the younger generations for the problems they helped create.
My not being married basically means I don’t even have an immediate family to feel a connection with. I grew up with little connectioin to extended family and have lost my connection to my immediate family. My main connection in life are my cats and my one good friend. In the process, I’ve also given up on any notion of being a part of a community It feels like our whole society is in a stage of change. If our society is to avoid collapse, then a new structure of family and community will have to form, but that is for the future to decide. I’m not hopeful about it… certainly not in my lifetime.
Back to my personal experience… basically, I feel apathetic about it all. I don’t feel like trying anymore. I don’t feel like trying to connect. I really just don’t care about the superficial relationships that have developed between my family and myself. I hate superficial relationships. This brings me to a deeper factor. My family has changed, but more importantly I’ve changed. There just isn’t much that I have in common with my parents or with my brothers… other than distant memories. The subjects I spend my time studying are of practically no interest to most everyone I know. Also, my personal life is in an entirely different reality from the personal lives of my family.
I have to admit that I really don’t care about what is going on with my family. There is no connection there that would lead to me to caring. I just want to live my own life and do my own thing. Life could’ve been different, but this is how life has turned out. Family only feels like a burden I’d rather be free from. I’m tired of pretending that I care about them, and they don’t know me well enough to really care about me. There simply is not much connection there. It’s a simple fact. I can either accept it or not, but it doesn’t change the way things are. Anyways, my family apparently is content with the way things are or else it wouldn’t have turned out this way.
Besides depression, there is another reason this is on my mind. I was talking to someone about the suffering that is life and why people choose to bring children into this world. It’s certainly not for the sake of the child. The child has no choice in the matter, and when that child grows up they very well might resent having been brought into the world. So, this got me thinking about my own parents. My parents intended to only have three children and I’m my mom’s fourth pregnancy. It’s arbitrary that the child before me was stillborn. The main reason my parents tried for three children was that my mom wanted a daughter. As I’m of the male gender, I’ve mostly failed in being a good daughter. Anyways, there are only two reasons that any person has a child. First, it’s a biological urge which is largely outside of conscious control. We’re animals and we do what animals do. Secondly, to the degree a person does make a choice, it’s entirely projection. The parent has their hopes and expectations. If people were capable of making purely rational and objective choices, then there’d probably be very few children if any children at all.
So, I’ve thought many times in life I’d rather not have been born. My reason for existing in the first place are because of the biological urges and psychological projections of my parents. Those are the reasons for my existence and I really don’t care about either of them. I don’t feel the desire to follow my biological urges and be a good evolutionary agent of the species. Nor do I feel any desire to live up to my parents expectations. When I really think about it, there isn’t much point to my existence which isn’t to say that I want to kill myself. I do at times have a deeper sense of meaning and even occasionally I have a sense of purpose. That said, life in and of itself seems pointless.
I don’t want to play the game. I don’t want to be a good son, a good brother, or a good citizen. There must be more to life than that.