DG is usually accused of gender bias towards women’s oppression, her detractors have failed to notice how vociferous she is about the nature and actors of violence in intimate/familial relationships. Many bloggers have lamented based on their personal experiences about desi men’s failure to draw a balance between their mothers and spouses. Some marriages have ended on this point and others are hanging in limbo. Just the other day this comment writer asked if men feel guilty too? This post comes partly in response to that question. Yes, DG will post another post exclusively about your concern.
Familial relationships are very complex, the option of walking out is very limited. A Punjabi phrase aptly sums it
Sharike da kauda daana, pher vi khaana (extended family is nuisance but you have to live with it). Just like the faceless strangers called log we desis lament about.
Women bloggers and otherwise do talk about oppression and discrimination within their natal families and their relationship with their mothers but men rarely talk about how they feel about their birth families and individual members. Both men and women learn doing their gender in the birth families and they become what their natal families make them. In doing their gender they also learn what they can express and what is proscribed. These boundaries on expression never let us know the whole story when courageous few come out and name the game either they are painted black or treated as anomaly. Here is a comment that DG wants everyone to read to see if it is happening in their lives, if yes then what do they want to do about it.
This is coming from a desi dude :
This is very true, sometimes I think about my Pakistani parents and it is unbelievable how incredibly toxic they were. My mother in particular with time became emotionally blackmailing, manipulating extremely toxic. This eventually after many years of blankets of guilt led to my estrangement from my entire family, even on the day I was leaving without telling anyone I was covered with guilt and feelings of selfishness. After years of being torn, guilted and manipulated I felt I had no choice but to go.
It is strange several years ago (before estrangement) on a breakfast table when my mother was having one of her hissy fits my younger brother called out to her :
” What you are doing is just blackmail… “,
My mother’s response was :
” … because it works…”.
At another time I recall her saying :
“.. mardon ko ghumana bohat asan hay …”
which means :
” … it is very easy to manipulate men …”
She had become very skilled at emotional blackmail, using circumstances to her advantage, pumping one family member for information regarding the other and using it against both. The aim always was to get what she wants : control over everyone and all dynamics.
I got into an arranged marriage due to this guilt which was inflicted for several years. During this time all family members had turned against me, my younger brother mocked me behind my back denying that my parents were doing something wrong by guilting me into marriage. The manipulation is so subtle it is difficult to recognize it, difficult to pinpoint and say this is what is wrong. Come to think of I had refused the marriage 2-3 times however my mother refused my refusals by countering them with blackmail, confusing arguments. Her strategy was to inflict the blackmail long enough until I break and give in. After I give in my parents smothered me in an effort to convince this is the right thing to do.
I realized the game too late, after I got married. My wife unfortunately was a product of the same codependent system. She was sweet but under the skin the same blackmail, manipulating personality existed – she just did it in a different way. I realized with time that she would just be a copy of my mother in a few years, be possessive, crazy and toxic. She was also emotionally unstable and was not very good at managing her feelings, having wildly conflicting emotions one day to the next.
So one day I got very angry with myself when I realized the game my mother was playing. The thought of estrangement depressed me, I lose whatever I do : I go I lose, I stay I lose – geez what a situation to be in. Slowly I began to accept that if I don’t go I’ll be stuck in this forever : stuck in my mother’s basement and an imported wife from desi land.
Then one day I decided to stop giving a *hit. I went away (I almost did not) & never looked back, got a divorce, full of doubts although the understanding of my mothers actions had helped curb the damn guilt. It’s only when I went did I realize that I won the desi game. This is the secret to this game : “you can never win, the only way to win is to depart the game”.
One thing to grasp is that people in these living conditions think this is normal. They don’t know anything else but don’t more importantly don’t want to, they are convinced they are right. Then one day they realize life went by them, the outside world away from this mesh of dysfunction did not care about them. All there is misery and regrets, what a waste of life.
My biggest regret was the time I wasted in this and my biggest gain was I got control of my life back.