In 2016 I moved 8,000 km from Canada to Ireland with my Irish husband and daughter.
It's coming up to Christmas and some people have asked me (including some newly found cousins) some seemingly innocent questions such as:
- Do you go home a lot?
- Do your parents come over here?
- Do you like it here?
- How do you about spending Christmas away from your family?
- you married a foreigner. That's... where are you going to live and... family?
- do you go back to your home country a lot?
These questions make my skin crawl.
It says a lot about the person asking them. It says that they feel a lot of attachment to their 'home' or where they grew up. It says that they experience a lot of comfort and joy from their family of origins.
It says that we are different people who might not be able to relate and that the answers to some of the questions might come across as cold/callus to them.
Right. Here's what's going through my mind when they ask me those:
- If I went back to my mother's house she would scream at me about dishes and we would fight.
- Parents plural? My father hasn't come around to see me in over 20 years. Last time my mother came to visit she used my house as a hotel even though I was 2 weeks postpartum and was mean to me and would not help me in any way.
- I've already been living here for 3 YEARS. My son was born here.
- I already have my own children and family. Why would you ask someone that when they know that you have your own family?
- I have only every dated foreigners. I was not able to get a man from my own culture to date me in my entire life. Also, the area that I was living in is a majority-minority area.
- I don't like my home country or where I'm from.
Things to consider:
I have a very non-traditional and complicated family history. I had an absentee father who kept me a secret from his family for 30+ years and my mother was a single mother who resented having to be a parent but wouldn't put me up for adoption either. She often took her resentment out on my grandfather and I.
My maternal grandfather babysat me while my mother was at work but he was old and tired and was hiding some health problems from us (possibly a generational thing as well).
I didn't enjoy growing up in my hometown. I was bullied at school and at home so I basically had a difficult childhood. Mostly my mother's fault. There were a lot of rough, burnt out on life single parents with dysfunctional families in my neighborhood (e.g. families where mom died and dad was an alcoholic who beat his son so his son bullied people at school; dad did drugs so mom was left poor on her own and vice versa)
The only reason why I reached out to the paternal side of my family is because I had a massive falling out with my mother in 2018. They didn't even know that I existed because my father didn't ever mention me to them despite having met me as a child a few times.
I don't like the direction that my homeland is going in culturally and politically. I've been personally hurt by these 'modern values'. They are not for me.
I'm an introvert and career-oriented. I've always been kind of detached and wherever I put my bag down is home.
There's just a whole lot of drama, negative events, conflict, and turmoil here that maybe someone you don't know very well doesn't need to know or maybe it's not something I should have to explain to an acquaintance.
How can I explain this to people that I don't know very well without being off-putting?