This weekend I joined the billions who obsessed over the royal wedding. Maybe I didn’t obsess, but I definitely watched it. And I am not ashamed of that. My love seeker was a little disappointed that she won’t be marrying Harry. But otherwise, I could not have been more happy with the event and the changes it implies. Honestly, it was a nice distraction from the chaotic and unstable world around us right now. It was nice to see a bit of fairy tale amidst the yuck.
My interest in the wedding did not get past Facebook. My feed did what it normally does. All I had to do was click on one article about the wedding and suddenly, EVERYTHING in my feed was about the wedding. I have to admit, it was overkill. But this is Facebook. This is how it works. As I scrolled through hundreds of wedding posts, I did get drawn in to one article. It was an article about Meghan’s half brother and his attacks. It included a letter he wrote to Prince Harry warning him not to marry her. I guess you have to be pretty bold or stupid to write a letter to the royal family attempting to educate them about their romantic choices. And I am sure the royal family is used to that kind of nonsense. I only read the first paragraph before I had enough. I really don’t have any interest in that kind of betrayal. But for some reason, I skipped to the end. That is when the trigger came. I felt the anger build as I saw two words.
I immediately closed the site. I was furious. This phrase is the basis for the majority of the familial abuse on the planet. Abusers rely on the pressures behind “family first” to justify all of their mistreatment and transgressions. Let’s talk about what these two small words do to our psyches, society and the planet as a whole.
“Family first” invalidates anger. When society uses “family first” as a mantra, it teaches everyone that being angry at family members for their treatment is not acceptable. We learn that all family wrongdoing is to be ignored or forgiven for the sake of family. This encourages the acceptance of poor treatment, even abuse. It also negates our ability to be angry at other poor treatment. If it is acceptable within the family, it becomes acceptable in the rest of the world. This is how our trauma patterns are formed. And with our anger held at bay, there is not a catalyst to change those patterns.
“Family first” traps us in a small life. Society teaches us that family matters more than anything else. And this gets translated to mean our dreams and ultimate purpose matter less. We might understand that our life needs to stay small in support of our family. It might even mean that our life can be no bigger or bolder than our other family members. We can’t become who we are meant to be. This traps us in a small life and builds inner resentment over all the amazing things we had hoped to accomplish. And when this happens on a global scale, it makes the world a less amazing place.
“Family first” keeps us in the past. If we have to honor our family patterns, this means we can’t let go of them. We have to perpetuate them in our daily lives. This means we cannot grow out of patterns that don’t suit us in adulthood. We might feel destined to be people-pleasers. We might feel destined to be bullied and abused. We can’t live life from an empowered perspective because we have to honor the disempowered role we served in the family. To break free of this role in society, we have to recognize how wrong it was in our families. We have to put the blame where it belongs. And “family first” tells us that’s not allowed.
The next time you hear someone shouting about “family first”, look for the abuses they are trying to justify. It probably won’t be hard to spot. They may be using it to invalidate emotions or expression. They might be using it to keep another from realizing their dreams. But I guarantee it isn’t meant in a loving way. Loving families don’t need to remind each other to put family first. If family is loving and respectful, we would gladly elevate them to the role they are worthy of. And they would never try to hold us back. Those are families who are meant to be first.