Keep It In The Family!
Family is always a hard thing to talk about for me being that mine is, for lack of a better phrase, dysfunctional. I’m sure you have now asked me in your head:
Aren’t ALL families dysfunctional?
My answer would be YES but I don’t want to assume so I only talk about mine. There are some great things about my family as a whole just as there are some not so great things, however, the not so great things tend to overshadow and outweigh the things that make me smile. In almost every community or ethnic culture there is a level of privacy that is said to be the ultimate “Don’t Break” rule. That is, the thing that you must always do when matters of dysfunction occur: Keep It In The Family!
This is the rule that tells us that when dysfunction of any kind happens that the world at large doesn’t need to know about it; it can all be dealt with (or not dealt with) from within the family structure. Much like how the world feels about Solange, Jay Z, and Beyonce's elevator debacle. However, in this case, this rule, this family law, was one of the major reasons why I was able to be molested for three years of my life and no one know or suspect. Why throughout teendom I was abused emotionally, verbally and sometimes physically by a live-in alcoholic and no one ever said or did anything about it! It was this rule, this idiotic and protective rule that made a child and a teenager look at his situations and say absolutely nothing from fear of what the outcome might be for the victimizer. NOT me, the victim. All because I was told KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY! Don't go airing out dirty laundry!
I understand as an adult that “airing out dirty laundry” can be detrimental to any family structure. Causing chaos and accusations that can be terminal for an already critical situation. However, what happens when (like me) nothing is done? What do you do when keeping it in the family doesn’t work? Or get results? I find that the proverbial airing out of dirty laundry is, in its entirety, a fallacy that NEVER seems to work. It is a broad rule that negates specific reasoning’s to actually help a family issue/s get resolved.
If I can be literal for just a moment; I find it hilarious that the very thing we do for actual dirty laundry is the thing we’re told NOT to do with the proverbial load! When laundry is being prepared you generally separate the laundry, shaking out things and “airing” out any extra smells or attached items you don’t want in the wash. So how come (within reason) we don’t apply that to our own family lives of dysfunction. I have found that not “airing out” said laundry along with “keeping it in the family” really means:
Let’s not discuss it AT ALL with ANYONE who doesn’t live in this house. And even then we’re not allowed to talk about it! PERIOD!
As I agree that with ANY family structure (whether by blood or by bond) there is a level of privacy that should be kept and respected, I don’t agree that issues need be ignored and neglected under this idiom aforementioned. I don’t have a problem with keeping things in the family if we’re going to sit down AS a family and talk about what the issues are and how we can heal, restore and move passed them; understanding that it might get irrevocably worse before it gets prayerfully better. Yet, to know that an issue exists and not talk about it or sit idle and hope that things work themselves out, all while people are getting hurt further, is inexcusable!
I know that I risk standing alone in thinking that sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get results. Even if that means laundry gets aired in order to force the “family” to address important and dire issues that are affecting and damaging the people therein, then so be it! We can’t be so private that issues of abuse, neglect or just emotional detriment go unfazed. If silence and secrecy were always the answer (and in almost every case I can think of NEVER really is) then this world would be perfect! Lord knows our communities and families are riddled with them!
Keeping it in the family might save you some public shame, public humiliation and may keep your pride in tact as to not be ridiculed (yet again) by the public. However, when your family’s dynamic is dying from dysfunction what’s more important? That you work things out? Or that you keep things private for sake of keeping face? If more people would SEE the problem and FIND the solution there would be LESS need for this rule, this law, this unspoken commandment to be such an elephant in so many of our rooms; breathing and living and eating us all out of proverbial house and home. If we kept it in the family and ACTUALLY took the time to DEAL with it as a family maybe, just maybe, that elephant might pick up its baggage and move out on its own.
**Photo courtesy of PQLiving.com