I just got a Facebook friends request from someone who I assume I'm related to based on who our mutual friends are, but whose name I don't recognize. Since they were also "recommended" by my cousin on that side of the family, I'm guessing they're legit. Fine. I'll friend 'em.
But it made me realize... I dunno if I'm more sad or frustrated with my extended family for exactly how I get treated by them. Almost all of my family just kind of, well, ignored me for a good 20 years, and even today most of them outside of my grandma and my cousins really still do. Honestly, I didn't enjoy really ANY family gatherings growing up (to be fair, I didn't enjoy much of growing up...), but at most it was "oh look at how fast you're growing up. Now shoo." At first I chalked it up to being the kid, but then I watched how my cousins got treated, and realized that "yeah, it IS me, not that I'm a kid."
I can accept my family not wanting to be around me, or not taking an interest in me. Quite frankly, most of them have given me little reason to take an interest in them. So live and let live, right?
Apparently not, as most of these people have this opinion that I should (1) know who the hell they are, (2) care, and (3) be happy they're gracing me with their presence. I've never been good at following the family tree, and over the years I've had zero incentive to get better at it. I mean, really, how interested were you in finding out more about the people in YOUR life growing up who patently ignored you.
It didn't help that my childhood life could easily be summed up as damn near miserable, and thus I often had more fear for my parents than love (Mom in particular - Dad more by proxy because he'd back Mom on the "unified front" principle). I don't know the conversations my parents had with my family, though I know that since I didn't have any chance to tell my side of anything, and I know my parents (again, Mom in particular), would "tell how I was behaving" to them, I had it reflect badly on me (Grandma explained it to me at one point - and she's pretty much the only one - that I would get railed on in these conversations, and at least Grandma thought Mom was way too hard on me... I didn't learn this til after I was out of high school). So, the more time that passed, the more I was just "this awful kid that my parents had to deal with," because even if that's not what I was - most of my friends' (few as they were) parents would have killed to have a kid as well-behaved as I was - and even if it's not how my parents actually viewed me, it's how I got treated and painted as, and well, perception takes over.
Now I get people in my extended family who suddenly want to be in contact and act like we're supposed to be all chummy-chummy and I should behave like it's all good? REALLY?!! You take zero interest in me, you blow me off at BEST, and now, NOW you give a shit? With a few exceptions, I have rarely felt like a part of this family. The immediate extended family on my Dad's side has been a bit better the last few years (my grandparents on my mom's side passed on years ago... I think I was in high school - to be fair, Grandma was a total sweetheart, and Grandpa cared, just didn't know how to show it), but for the most part, I see or hear something about my family and all I can think is "and I care... why?"
I get why my mom might care, or why other people of my family might. But I have a hard time feeling the same. I mean, really, get left out in the cold enough, and you just don't get excited when the door opens now and then, and you sure as hell aren't interested in the new human who claims to want to pet you. Especially when you've been punted for your trouble enough times.
*sigh* And my family wonders why I hate family reunions.