L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 885, August 14, 2016
What My Family Doesn‘t Get
by Nic Leobold
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
Our family is no more. Too many people did too much stuff to others, and most of us don‘t talk any longer.
It used to be a lot different. Thanksgivings, Christmases/Hanukkahs, birthdays, and frequent dinners out at gourmet restaurants, Super Bowls, trips out to Westchester, New Jersey, Long Island, back yard barbeques and days at the pool, sailing and leisure at Martha‘s Vineyard, our family had a lot, and the elder family statesmen and women shared everything with all of us.
But there were darksides.
There was always hurt, slights, and insults passed around by many family members. That led to resentments, blowback, psychological reprisals, which led to more bad feelings, misunderstandings, things never said or explained, eventually a complete breakdown of most relationships.
Things sometimes even got very ugly.
One of my uncles was estranged from the family early on. He felt insulted by his brother not contributing sufficiently to his congressional campaign, and he avoided the whole family for 25 years. When he rejoined contact, as a lawyer and Democratic Party apologist, he displayed a brutality of spirit and intolerance that alienated younger nieces and nephews that he wanted to reconcile with. He thinks he tried to impart life lessons to us, but his roughness and lawyerly lack of trust and wariness was always a negative experience for us trying to relate to him.
Another lawyer uncle of mine was “the family basket case”. Everyone was constantly fed up with him. After promising career tracks with top-10 corporations like GE as an international lawyer, he had overreached both personally and professionally, never marrying the foreign girl he loved and trying to parlay up to mega-prestigious overseas positions unsuccessfully without maintaining a safety nest egg. For the last 35 years, while he was mooching off of family members, boarding in our homes, and asking for continual favors, he never stopped resenting everything and everyone and spreading gloom and stress wherever he was. Rather than being appreciative of all our help, and rather than try and contribute something back to family members who were helping him in very substantive ways, he acted and assumed the attitude and demeanor of the entitled, spoiled narcissist, who needs to judge and correct others rather than improving and correcting himself.
My third uncle had also kept at a distance from most of the family, but with some limited contacts. A former radical communist member of Democrat Youth movements in his college days, he knew how to play dirty and was fine doing it even to family members and friends. Whether it was welching on bets, borrowing cars and property from the family and not returning them, or merely being a prick tossing around a vicious insult or two, he never managed to fool anyone in the family and was eventually let go by his major league fundraising job gig, probably because his bosses were as fed up by his obnoxious behavior as the rest of us. He wound up relocating down to Maryland near his real estate agent-wife‘s family, and is now supposedly “cash poor” while they try succeeding in the real estate reflation crack up and he tries to learn golf.
My last uncle, the one I looked up to as the head of the family because that‘s the role he assumed as the eldest son, had a long varied career making and losing several small fortunes before losing everything playing the stock market. Despite what he and others believe and portray him as, he wasn‘t always kind, generous and loving, he frequently tried to retaliate against family members with crude, childish attempts at insults in retaliation for what he perceived as slights against him. His antics, low self-esteem, and desperate need to feel recognized as important and successful continued to alienate people around him, including his wife and daughters. He now lives on the West coast relying on government food stamps and the house his daughter had to buy him to keep him sheltered. I called him several times when I returned from Europe and after 8 years of not talking with him, he was still lecturing me and trying to convince me to follow his bad advice.
My aunt, my mother‘s sister, is probably the most deluded one in the family. She had personal tragedy because both her husband and one of her daughters tragically died in their mid 40‘s. She successfully raised her 3 children to have successful professional lives, but she never psychologically accepted the loss of her husband, and clung to the tragedy for the rest of her life. Rather than accept that all people suffer losses, she acted as though her losses were unique, didn‘t open herself to the possibility of having a new relationship, and allowed herself to feel victimized all her life. While she shared her home with family and friends, she never stopped being judgmental of everyone, and still believed she had a right to insult people she disagreed with. A practicing therapist, she routinely violated doctor-patient confidentiality and took on the role of counselor and psychologist even though her advice was not desired and despite that she was not a licensed psychotherapist and could never manage to earn such licensure.
My cousins are idiots as well. Two of my cousins have very prestigious careers; one a partner in an investment M&A bank and the other a female senior editor at The New York Times. What both have in common is a disdain for sharing anything with the rest of the family, including knowledge, beliefs, opinions or experiences. They also have in common using/abusing other family members‘ hospitality, time, energy, and efforts without compensation or reciprocation as long as it furthers their objectives or needs.
The investment banker used to be my favorite cousin and an older brother figure I worshiped. But as his career developed and he had a family, moving to Europe with his French wife to manage his firm‘s international divisions, he and his new family drifted further and further away from everyone else. It didn‘t help that his French wife hated our family, hated his mother, and wanted to separate him from everyone else in America. She is a spoiled and impetuous, imperious girl from near the Swiss border, and she had no understanding, empathy, or desire to be kind or supportive to anyone else in our group, even though it was her mother-in-law, my aunt, who had matched her with my successful cousin. While my cousin was advancing swiftly in investment banking, she was struggling with fad diets trying not to be obese, and the closest she got to having her own career was decorating her new houses when they traded up in real estate every five years. She felt entitled to be cruel to people because we looked up to them and their success, which was solely attributable to my cousin‘s career. She has accomplished nothing for nobody. So they live their life apart from everyone else. But it doesn‘t stop them from trying to exploit others including my mother to babysit my aunt. When I asked my cousin to reciprocate and help us out as we were helping his mother out, he completely blew me off and bullshitted me; just as his spoiled French wife had taught him to do to others. So my previous hero, my dear cousin who was almost like a brother to me, had become just another Taker.
My journalist cousin, the female New York Times senior editor and Harvard Crimson former editor-in-chief, is similarly egocentric and self-serving. Along with her former journalist husband, who is now a professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism, these two career hack journalists put on a haughty air of statist superiority, but cower and hide when their corporate-welfarist cover is blown. Apologists for the establishment, and collaborators with it, they can‘t openly admit that they aid and abet the immoral, guilty welfare- warfare state, so when confronted with their culpability, they pretend to be offended that anyone would want to disturb their tranquility and harmony. Rather than engage with our family as passionate journalists and purveyors of philosophy and progress, they hide behind their “professional codes of conduct” from The New York Times and Columbia which they insist precludes them from sharing their opinions, thoughts or feelings about anything in society or politics or international relations whatsoever, insisting that they must maintain strict Confidentiality and Classification, even to their family. Of course the notion that they cannot share their opinions, knowledge and information even with their family is nothing more than an elaborate conceit, a simple, blunt way to project their desire for superiority against and onto all the rest of us. Eventually, their need for exclusivity and superiority pushed the rest of the family away. Everyone basically hates them, despite their respectable careers, because they always want to feel better than other people. In addition to losing family friendship, they also lost close friends because of their egocentric obsessions. And until we put our foot down and said no, they were still trying to use my mother and I to board my aunt and uncle during their visits to New York, despite having their own apartment and having plenty of income to rent them a hotel.
My other cousins, too, were always hung up on asserting their egos, judging others, and trying to feel superior. It seems endemic in our family that individuals think because they are kind in some ways, it gives them the prerogative to be mean in other ways.
As I grew up, my aunts, uncles and cousins were not particularly concerned with being thoughtful or sensitive to how others were feeling or how their actions and words and attitudes could cause serious long term harm to others. They always gave themselves credit for every time they shared, but thought it gave them license to break the things and feelings of others. It didn‘t.
Then there‘s my parents. What a sad affair.
For my father, all I have left for him is a prayer that he will wake up and his eyes will be opened. My father left me when I was five years old, after my mom requested separation and divorce. For the rest of my life, my father has basically completely neglected me. My dad has consistently refused to communicate with me, teach me, share with me. He gives more consideration and care to the daughters of his latest girlfriend, than to me or my half brother. My father doesn‘t seem to think he owes me anything at all, but he still thought he had the right to judge me and criticize me. My father is a sad case. He still works at his dilapidated, ancient book shop in Paris, stuffed ground to ceiling with books, the opposite of a comfortable Starbucks or Barnes & Noble. When I ask him what he is doing, or point out how his store could be comfortable with a sofa and chairs and open space, he doesn‘t respond. He once told me he wants things to get very bad in the world. I perceive that he was hurt in his life, and he wants to get back at life, by refusing to make things better, even for himself. I view that response as a sad case, as a basket case even. He‘s actually so dumb that he refuses to make his own life and shop better? I have given up on my father.
My mother is also impossible to help. She blames all my challenges and problems on me, and actually refuses to cooperate in defending us against the bad actor companies, corporations and banks that have wronged us. She insisted all my life that I work to make it on my own, but ignored all our other friends and family who actively helped their kids to get a head start on life. She has a psychological dread of spending any money whatsoever, which is a severe handicap considering almost all of life, society, daily activities, hobbies, work, and study involves trading and spending money. She has never really left me alone, constantly nagging me, interrupting me while I study, read, study my beloved movies, or anything else I am doing. She considers herself an expert authority on everything where nagging me is concerned, but she‘s actually an expert at nothing, besides reading books by statist apologist authors like Maya Angelou, and reading statist toilet paper like The New York Times, The Nation, etc. She also says she voted for Barack Obama twice, and is openly defiant about it. Despite being a critic of corporatism and crony crapitalism when I was young, she now swears by big government, the “reasonableness” of taxes, the need for the nanny state, and her monthly Social Security check. Like most older elderly Social Security recipients, she dislikes being bothered or inconvenienced with the Truth, even if it means having to blame me when things go wrong in my life because of the misbehavior of corporations, banks, people who abuse their authority, and other bad actors, because if she had to accept the truth that my problems were a result of their bad behavior, she would have to take action and make efforts to fight them, and she would have to suffer the discomfort of acknowledging that everything is not right in the world, and as she always says, all she wants is peace, quiet, and she wants her books and her food; if blaming me for everything makes it easier for her to enjoy those things, she will blame me for everything and leave me holding the bag.
When I think about my family nowadays, I regret that I ever wasted any time or feelings on them at all. I see clearly now that all of them are hopelessly self-centered and selfish, to the point they are willing to hurt and slight others to feel better about themselves. Most of all, I will remember their cruelty, their quiet, relaxed savagery, and the cold, selfish desperation to hurt others in order to bolster their shaky self-images. I will remember all the love, tranquility, confidence, self-assurance, and approval they denied me, merely in their petty attempts to score a small put-down or insult. Most of all, I‘m grateful to be rid of almost all of them, permanently, and triply grateful that I was still clever and smart enough to always enjoy myself and my life despite their desperate attempts to belittle others.
I know the difference between people who have integrity and people who don‘t; between people who believe in being decent and kind to people, and people who don‘t; between people who believe in greed and people who don‘t; between people who believe in a positive, friendly approach to others versus an approach of judgmentalism and disdain for those who are different.
My family are vicious, obnoxious bastards. I will remember their viciousness, their meanness, their emotional greed, as individuals, for the rest of my life, and for the rest of my life I will remember to avoid them.
I‘ll remember what small people they are, and I‘ll always seek to be around different people than that, people who are big enough in spirit and mentality that they don‘t feel a need to try and make other people small.
I‘ll always believe that lifting people up, being friendly, being faithful and being loyal are qualities I strive for. It‘s a big part of why I self-identify as libertarian and Free Market Anarchist and Voluntaryist. I really truly believe that by being good to people, doing good by people, and interacting on a Voluntary, Cooperative basis, Great Things happen in a tolerant society. My family would scoff at those sentiments, and say I‘m a fool, and all of them will probably be voting for Hillary Clinton this November, because that‘s the type of people Democrats are.
I know The Best Revenge is Success. I don‘t even want to dirty my hands trying to reconcile with my family. They‘re not worth it.
I‘m almost all alone now. But I have my Integrity, and I‘m still full of Light. Their hatred didn‘t kill me, I just turned my back on them and let it roll off my shoulders.
I feel proud, oh so proud.
I can make another family, and choose the people I want to Associate with. That‘s what being Free is all about.
And I don‘t hate my former family, only because I don‘t really think or worry about them. They‘re not worth it.
My family never really “Got” the most important things in life. Like just being happy, and making other people happy, just for its own sake. Most of them are now alone, with the same old family and same old friends they long ago chose.
I‘m an Optimist, Open-Minded, Learning, Experiencing, Trying to Share, Trying to Make a Difference. When I said goodbye to my family and their hang-ups, resentments, bitterness, I said hello to My future and my life.
It‘s tragic to live in a family that needs to eat their own. It would be even more of a tragedy if I let them succeed with their meanness and brutality.
If anyone is mean, vicious, brutal to you, don‘t fight them, don‘t help them create more heat, more fire. That‘s what bad people want.
Just leave them alone to themselves and walk away.
Into Your future.
I wish you All the best.
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