When Your Family Lets You Down: Chin-up

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you will know that my family is very important to me and we are to a large extent, as close as any family can be. But I have to tell you that there have been many times when my people – the ones I love most have let me down. They don’t do this often but when they do it can be rather brutal.

As you all know, I have been ranting along here on WordPress since 2012. Since I didn’t have an editor, my family were forced to read/listen to me reading long polemics about the state of the world, black people, my heart or both. They wouldn’t openly admit to this but I know they all secretly wished they could disappear each time they’d see me walking in their direction with my laptop in hand.

“I promise it’s not that long!” I would plead as they scurried behind their bedroom doors telling me that they were busy with something.

Usually I would not take no for an answer. I would insist on reading my blog articles out loud right then whether they liked it or not. One day I walked into my brother’s room and found both my brothers chatting animatedly.

I had my laptop in hand and asked if I could read them my blog post. They looked at me with vacant pleading eyes which said “No, not now Jedi”.

As usual I wouldn’t take no for answer: ” I promise it won’t be long” Okay they said, defeat written all over their eyes.

I started reading enthusiastically, emphasising all the points I wanted them to hear. After a few paragraphs into my article I looked up to find my youngest brother’s mouth wide open, his head was leaning dangerously against the chair. He was fast asleep. As was my brother who’d been leaning next to him, he was sleeping against the wall holding on to his chair. I stopped, incredulous. When they didn’t move an inch, I shouted. “Are you both sleeping?” The both woke up with a start and started to apologise saying they were seriously listening.

I walked out of their room in a huff.

Each time I think about that night, I laugh out loud at myself. But at the time, writing my blog was extremely important to me, it was the only thread that stood between me and complete obscurity. So to have my brothers fall into deep sleep while I read one of them was devastating.

Which is why I agree with Paolo Coehlo’s sentiments when he says in his blog:

“I’ve learned that your family won’t always be there for you.”

That moment felt as if my family had abandoned me when I needed them the most. Since then, I have learnt to trust my own instincts and even though I would still like them to read me and comment, if they don’t or are too busy, I don’t take it personally anymore. It doesn’t matter as much as it used to.

Through that experience I learnt that I shouldn’t always take what I do so seriously, all the time.

Seriously, chin-up.

It doesn’t last forever. Last week my brother emerged from self-isolation to question me about certain things in my manuscript. He was reading my book, voluntarily and he even stoped in the middle of the story to call me. He wanted to give me the kind of feedback I had been yearning for, for years about: structure, storyline, angles, links, marketing strategies etc! He was asking why I chose to put this scene here and not there. He said my book read like a movie. After the phone call, I leaned back and…

smiled.

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