Family. No one can hurt you quite like them. They can do it without even trying. In fact, not trying can be the hurting gesture.

When I was 16, my aunt asked me to babysit my cousin. She was getting a divorce and renting another of my aunt's houses. There was some kind of dispute which I never did fully understand. The next thing I know, I'm 31 and my aunt and my grandmother have barely spoken to me for 15 years. For the last 15 years I've heard little more from them than insults and tight-lipped hellos. My brother and sister get invited over for swimming and chit-chat. I've got cousins who've done plenty of naughty shit, but who, in the eyes of these two, are angels sent from heaven and welcome anytime. Me? I could win a damned Nobel prize and I don't think they'd so much as pick up the phone.

Brian's in a similar boat. His parents have disowned him, for leaving their church. As he pointed out to me today, if we lived in his parents' town, they'd celebrate every visit by his sister and her family and barely speak to us. It doesn't matter if he's a respected man with a family who loves him and an interesting career at which he's respected and admired. It doesn't matter that he loves them and cares what they think, no matter what they do: they don't give a rat's ass because they're family with a bug up theirs. I'm lucky: at least with me, it's not my parents.

But, hey, right? That's just family. It's nothing new. You've been through it. I've been through it. It's just the way things go.

But motherfuck it hurts.

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