Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Respect

I quite often struggle with respect. Being a third child - the baby of the family, there is absolutely no chance that I might get a little bit of respect from my family.

It doesn't matter just how much I may sacrifice or do for those other members of the family. It's the same old story. Today my sister came around. She started off with a classic "you should have done X". She had brought something for my mother before they left for India. I was to:
  1. Somehow know that she had brought it and know exactly where she had put it.
  2. Know to take it out of it's packaging for my mother.
After that, she'd gone out of her way to insult me. This is the same sister which I had put my life on hold for. The scenario is this:

When she gets stressed, she gets migraines which exhibit stroke like symptoms. Loss of speech and if pushed far enough, loss of control of one side of her body. I think I've mentioned a "family issue" that came up. With her husband working 2 jobs there was no one to look after her. So... it was left to me to essentially babysit... for a couple of months. Yep. Months.

Fast forward to her being in India and instead of letting me know that she wanted me to deal with her travel insurance when I had asked, she left it to the day it expired. i.e. I was expected to drop everything to go running after her. When I had said that I had lost an entire day from it, the comment came up "but you're not getting paid right?".

Does money equal respect? Is my time less valuable than everyone else's because there's no money involved?

No tokens of thanks. There was talk of one but nothing ever eventuates with her.

I've also said that I don't speak to my other sister. It's for the same reasons. Despite the amount of money I've "loaned" her (I was well aware that I was very unlikely to see that money again) and the sacrifices I've made to help her out, it's the same old story. When she was getting divorced the first time, she rang me asking me to come down to Wellington. Put a bit of a damper on the day given that I was best man and my best friend's wedding on the day. A couple of days later she's telling me that she thinks I should leave.

This seems to me to be an extension of the youngest child syndrome. The most infuriating bit about it though, isn't so much my sisters, but my parents.

While they see exactly how my sisters treat me, I'm always berated for getting angry about it. If not berated, then they find ways of justifying my sisters' actions. It's expected that I should make amends. If my parents are reading this, it's not going to happen. It's a long established pattern. I can't control other people, but I can chose how I'm treated.

It's really hard to build up your confidence when your family are constantly reinforcing a negative image of yourself. This is where that Nilesh/Nevyn bit comes in. To my family, the place where I can not get any respect, I am Nilesh. A sink for all of their negative comments about me. Insult Nilesh all you want. Nevyn is allowed to be awesome. Nilesh was never afforded that luxury.

Compare that to how I'm treated outside of my family. While people may take advantage sometimes, they always show some respect. Things that I haven't thought of about myself.

For example, it didn't actually occur to me that I might have higher than average intelligence until after I left high school. Sure I excelled at a few things but everyone's good at something. It's not something that made me special. To my family, my cousin was the intelligent one. Or some other boy within the Indian community. This is despite me always getting awards during my prize givings and doing fairly well in science and maths competitions. If you're told something enough times, you really do start to believe it even if you see evidence to the contrary.

I guess this is why I'm surprised by this blog. I have a fairly good readership. Sure, it's struggling a little bit over the holiday season, but 600 hits in a month isn't anything to sneeze at. Considering that I've only really advertised it as a signature on the bottom of my emails, it's a wonder how I could have gotten that sort of readership within... 3 months. I've since printed up bits of paper (sort of a poor man's business card) with email addresses and the address for the blog but not many of those have been handed out. The point is, people wouldn't be reading this blog if it wasn't about things they're interested in hearing about. People give me the respect to read the blog and even tap me on the shoulder to talk about one point or another.

I guess this post is really a great big thanks to those who show me some respect, a great big finger to those who don't and a call to perhaps consider how you see yourself.

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